The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce. This goal was reorganized in 2021.
Minimum Standards of Performance: Iowa does not set minimum standards of performance for the categories of data that programs must report.
Program Accountability: Although Iowa does not set minimum standards of performance, the state does confer full approval, conditional approval or denial of approval to educator preparation programs based on program reviews. However, the standards on which accountability outcomes are based are not necessarily performance-based criteria with clearly stated minimum thresholds.
State Report Cards: Iowa produces an annual report on the state of teacher preparation, but this report includes data that is aggregated from all programs and institutions. Readers are unable to determine the performance of specific programs or institutions based on this report. Although the state publishes its reviews of each educator preparation program within the state board minutes, the information is not provided in one central location where potential teacher candidates can easily search and review program quality.
Program Approval Process: Iowa maintains full authority over teacher preparation program approval.
Establish the minimum standards of performance for each category of data.
Iowa should establish precise minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data it collects to help clarify expectations regarding program quality.
Ensure program accountability decisions are based on minimum standards of performance.
While Iowa has the structure of a program accountability system, including follow-up actions for programs failing to meet standards, it has not set minimum standards it can use to implement this accountability process. As Iowa further develops its accountability system, it should ensure that the system is sufficient to differentiate performance among programs, including alternate route programs, and that it is clear at what point a program's approval will be revoked. For programs exceeding minimum standards, Iowa should consider finding effective ways to disseminate best practices.
Publish an annual report card on the state's website.
Rather than a report with aggregated data from all programs and institutions, Iowa should produce an annual report card that clearly displays program-level data the state collects on individual teacher preparation programs. This report card should be publicly available on the state's website, at a minimum. Data should be presented in a manner that transparently conveys whether programs have met performance standards.
Iowa was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts necessary for this analysis. The state also noted that a program review report is produced by standard for each EPP reviewed. This report is provided to the state board of education for their approval decision. The full report is published in each state board agenda. The results of the state board decisions, including full and conditional approval, are contained in state board minutes. The annually published State of Educator Preparation Report summarizes the findings from each of the program review reports published on the State Board page of the Iowa Department of Education website each year.
1D: Program Reporting Requirements
The state should examine a number of factors when measuring the performance of and approving teacher preparation programs. Although the quality of both the subject-matter preparation and professional sequence is crucial, there are also additional measures that can provide the state and the public with meaningful, readily understandable indicators of how well programs are doing when it comes to preparing teachers to be successful in the classroom.
States have made great strides in building data systems with the capacity to provide evidence of teacher performance. These same data systems can be used to link teacher effectiveness to the teacher preparation programs from which they came. States should make such data, as well as other objective measures that go beyond licensure test pass rates, central components of their teacher preparation program approval processes, and they should establish precise standards for performance that are more useful for accountability purposes.
National accrediting bodies, such as CAEP, are raising the bar, but are no substitute for states' own policy. A number of states now have somewhat more rigorous academic standards for admission by virtue of requiring that programs meet CAEP's accreditation standards. However, whether CAEP will uniformly uphold its standards (especially as they have already backtracked on the GPA requirement) and deny accreditation to programs that fall short of these admission requirements remains to be seen. Clear state policy would eliminate this uncertainty and send an unequivocal message to programs about the state's expectations.