The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
Illinois's approval process for its traditional and alternate route teacher preparation programs does not hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
Most importantly, Illinois does not collect value-added data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs.
However, Illinois does rely on some objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of teacher preparation programs. Beginning in 2018, all teacher preparation programs in Illinois will be required to submit to the state data regarding performance evaluations.
Regrettably, Illinois fails to apply any transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval. The state collects programs' annual summary licensure test pass rates (80 percent of program completers must pass their licensure exams). However, the 80 percent pass-rate standard, while common among many states, sets the bar quite low and is not a meaningful measure of program performance.
Further, in the past three years, no programs in the state have been identified as low performing—an additional indicator that programs lack accountability.
Finally, Illinois requires each institution to make its pass rates readily available to the public, but it is not clear whether the state plans to publish them on its website.
Collect data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs.
To ensure that programs are producing effective classroom teachers, Illinois should consider academic achievement gains of students taught by the programs' graduates, averaged over the first three years of teaching.
Gather other meaningful data that reflect program performance.
In addition to knowing whether programs are producing effective teachers, other objective, meaningful data can also indicate whether programs are appropriately screening applicants and whether they are delivering essential academic and professional knowledge. In addition to its plans to collect evaluation ratings, Illinois should gather data such as the following: average raw scores of graduates on licensing tests, including basic skills, subject matter and professional knowledge tests; satisfaction ratings by school principals and teacher supervisors of programs' student teachers, using a standardized form to permit program comparison; and five-year retention rates of graduates in the teaching profession. The state is also encouraged to develop more immediate plans to hold programs accountable than its current approach to begin limited data collection in 2018.
Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data.
Programs should be held accountable for meeting these standards, with articulated consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval after appropriate due process.
Publish an annual report card on the state's website.
Even though institutions are required to make summary pass rates publicly available, Illinois should present all the data it collects on individual teacher preparation programs, in order to inform the public with meaningful, readily understandable indicators of how well programs are doing,
Illinois recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state noted a change in the continued program approval process. Illinois can now put programs on probation immediately if the State Teacher Certification Board makes that decision based on data or other concerns. Programs that have problems with submitted data are called before the Board to discuss their programs and possible probation.
NCTQ commends Illinois for its new policy that allows the State Board to act quickly in response to concerns about program performance. This policy would be strengthened, though, if there were clear minimum standards of performance for which programs were held accountable.