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

Analysis of Kentucky's policies

Kentucky's approval process for its traditional and alternate route teacher preparation programs could do more to hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.

Most importantly, Kentucky does not collect or report data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs.

However, the state does collect other objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of university-based teacher preparation programs. The Education Professional Standards Board's Teacher Preparation Dashboard provides information on each institution's selectivity of candidates, the performance of candidates on required new teacher assessments, the percentage of candidates who achieve full certification, and the results of surveys of candidates and their supervisors regarding the effectiveness of the candidate's preparation. 

Regrettably, Kentucky only requires a summary pass rate on state licensure examinations of 80 percent. This 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.

Commendably, the state posts annual report cards on its website that detail its approval standards and identify programs failing to meet them. However, the institutional data do not distinguish between candidates in the traditional and alternate route programs. Kentucky does not post any data online for its numerous alternate route programs that are not based in universities.

Further, there is some overlap of accreditation and state approval. Members of NCATE/CAEP and the state make up the review team and decisions are made jointly; state members must complete NCATE/CAEP training. Kentucky conducts its own program reviews. 


Recommendations for Kentucky

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

As one way to measure whether programs are producing effective classroom teachers, Kentucky 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.

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

In order to make use of the data Kentucky already collects and publishes for accountability purposes, it is critical that the state establish minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data. Kentucky 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.

Distinguish between alternate route programs and traditional preparation programs in public reporting. 

It would be more useful to the public—especially hiring school districts—if Kentucky's reports on teacher preparation program performance included specific data at the program level.

Maintain full authority over the process for approving teacher preparation programs. 

Kentucky 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

Kentucky asserted that it has the sole authority over the approval for operation of an educator preparation program and maintains full authority. The state also contended that it sets the standards for state accreditation and approval of programs. The Education Professional Standards Board establishes standards and requirements for obtaining and maintaining a teaching certificate and for programs of preparation for teachers and other professional school personnel. The cited regulation establishes the standards for accreditation of an education preparation unit and approval of a program to prepare an educator. Only the state of Kentucky can grant, deny or withdraw authorization for the operation of an educator preparation program in the state. National accreditations are optional. 

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.