Teacher Preparation Program Accountability:

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.

Meets a small part of goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2013). Teacher Preparation Program Accountability: Illinois results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/IL-Teacher-Preparation-Program-Accountability-20

Analysis of Illinois's policies

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.

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, only one program in the state has been identified as low performing—an additional indicator that programs lack accountability.

Illinois posts aggregate and summary assessment pass-rate data per institution on its website; however, the data has not been updated since 2008-2009. 

In Illinois, there is some overlap of accreditation and state approval. Review teams are comprised solely of NCATE/CAEP members, and the state has delegated its program review process to NCATE/CAEP. 


Recommendations for Illinois

Collect data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs.

As one way to measure whether programs are producing effective classroom teachers, Illinois should consider the academic achievement gains of students taught by programs' graduates, averaged over the first three years of teaching. Data that are aggregated to the institution (e.g., combining elementary and secondary programs) rather than disaggregated to the specific preparation program are not useful for accountability purposes. Such aggregation can mask significant differences in performance among programs.

Gather other meaningful data that reflect program performance. 

Although measures of student growth are an important indicator of program effectiveness, they cannot be the sole measure of program quality for several reasons, including the fact that many programs may have graduates whose students do not take standardized tests. The accountability system must therefore include other objective measures that show how well programs are preparing teachers for the classroom. Illinois should expand its requirements to also include such measures as:

1.    Satisfaction ratings by school principals and teacher supervisors of programs' student teachers, using a standardized form to permit program comparison;

2.    Average raw scores of teacher candidates on licensing tests, including academic proficiency, subject matter and professional knowledge tests;

3.    Number of times, on average, it takes teacher candidates to pass licensing tests; and

4.    Five-year retention rates of graduates in the teaching profession.

Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data. 

Merely collecting the types of data described above is insufficient for accountability purposes. The next and perhaps more critical step is for the state to establish precise minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data. Illinois should be mindful of setting rigorous standards for program performance, as its current requirement that 80 percent of program graduates pass the state's licensing tests is too low a bar. Programs should be held accountable for meeting rigorous standards, and there should be consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval.

Publish an annual report card on the state's website. 

Illinois should produce an annual report card that shows all the data the state collects on individual teacher preparation programs, which should be published on the state's website at the program level for the sake of public transparency. Data should be presented in a manner that clearly conveys whether programs have met performance standards.  

Maintain full authority over teacher preparation program approval.

Illinois should ensure that it is the state that considers the evidence of program performance and makes the decision about whether programs should continue to be authorized to prepare teachers. 

State response to our analysis

Illinois asserted that programs are approved using criteria based on the rules, school code and administrative procedures set forth by the state, with members of the State Educator Preparation and Licensure board reviewing program proposals based on this criteria. There is also an annual program report in which subscores are reviewed. 

Illinois added that it is responsible for initial institutional and unit recognition and for the program review process. Review teams are comprised of state representatives and trained review team members. 

In a subsequent response, Illinois stated that great efforts are expended by many people to ensure teacher preparation program accountability is ongoing.  The state cited its rules that explain:

Each recognized educational unit shall submit a separate annual program report for each approved program to the State Superintendent of Education, in a format defined by the State Superintendent, no sooner than October 1 and no later than November 30. Content-specific endorsements shall be considered separate programs for reporting purposes. The annual program report shall: 1) update any information previously provided; 2) summarize data about the program's overall structure, faculty, and candidates, and the results of various assessments. 

Illinois continued that this Annual Program Report is an extensive report that is reviewed for any information that may provide cause for concern about the quality of an educator preparation program.  Each program report is thoroughly reviewed by a team of peers and/or a team of State Educator Preparation and Licensure Board Members (SEPLB).  If any red flags are realized, the program is invited to appear before the State Educator Preparation and Licensure Board to explain and to explain any remedies that may have been or plan to be put in place.  This process has provided the opportunity for the SEPLB to place programs and sometimes units on probation until concerns are remedied to the satisfaction of the SEPLB.  A number of programs and/or units have been placed on probation over the course of the past two years.

Research rationale

States need to hold programs accountable for the quality of their graduates.

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 can be used to provide objective evidence of the performance of teacher preparation programs.  States should make such data, as well as other objective measures that go beyond licensure pass rates, a central component of their teacher preparation program approval processes, and they should establish precise standards for performance that are more useful for accountability purposes. 

Teacher Preparation Program Accountability: Supporting Research

For discussion of teacher preparation program approval see Andrew Rotherham and S. Mead's chapter "Back to the Future: The History and Politics of State Teacher Licensure and Certification." in A Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom. (Harvard Education Press, 2004).

For evidence of how weak state efforts to hold teacher preparation programs accountable are, see data on programs identified as low-performing in the U.S. Department of Education,The Secretary's Seventh Annual Report on Teacher Quality 2010 at: http://www2.ed.gov/about/reports/annual/teachprep/t2r7.pdf.

For additional discussion and research of how teacher education programs can add value to their teachers, see NCTQ's, Teacher Prep Review, available at http://www.nctq.org/p/edschools.

For a discussion of the lack of evidence that national accreditation status enhances teacher preparation programs' effectiveness, see D. Ballou and M. Podgursky, "Teacher Training and Licensure: A Layman's Guide," in Better Teachers, Better Schools, eds. Marci Kanstoroom and Chester E. Finn., Jr., (Washington, D.C.: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, 1999), pp. 45-47. See also No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America's Education Schools (NCTQ, 2008) and What Education Schools Aren't Teaching About Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning (NCTQ, 2006).

See NCTQ, Alternative Certification Isn't Alternative (2007) regarding the dearth of accountability data states require of alternate route programs.