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. (2015). 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-69

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, retention, and the results of surveys of candidates and their supervisors regarding the effectiveness of the candidate's preparation. Kentucky does not, however, apply transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval. 

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.

The state posts annual report cards on its website; however, it does not post any data online for its numerous alternate route programs that are not based in universities.

Kentucky maintains control of its preparation program accreditation and program approval


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.

Include non-university based alternate route 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 all programs' specific data at the program level.

State response to our analysis

Kentucky indicated that the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) has been working on a shared accountability model for preparation programs and school districts. As a result of current research and presentations, the board unanimously voted to incorporate work on a model for Kentucky preparation programs as a part of its Strategic Plan modified in June 2015.

Throughout the past year, EPSB staff and educational partners have made progress toward improving educator preparation. Currently, metrics are in development for evaluating educator preparation program effectiveness at both the initial and advanced levels, while evaluating methodologies for innovative public reporting. The shared accountability model linking educator performance to preparation programs and professional contexts is under way, and the EPSB is currently collaborating with the Kentucky Department of Education, the Kentucky Center for Workforce Statistics, and the Martin School at the University of Kentucky to evaluate the data necessary for the model to be highly effective and meaningful as a measure to preparation effectiveness, professional learning and success in the classroom with student achievement. Phase I is completed, and Model development is underway and anticipated for full release in July 2016.

Kentucky also noted that it was named one of only seven states to participate in a pilot program to shape the future of educator preparation. The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) created Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP) to help states ensure that all new teachers are ready on the first day of their careers to prepare their students for college, work and life. This work revolves around the 10 recommendations identified in CCSSO’s release of “Our Responsibility, Our Promise: Transforming Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession.”

The state indicated that the network will employ successful practices used in several states to change and strengthen policies affecting teacher preparation and licensing. These policies also may influence training for school administrators such as principals. Kentucky and the six other states— Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Washington— are joined by 17 national organizations committed to support the state's efforts.

The objectives of the recommendations established by CCSSO help to guide transformations currently under way in Kentucky and will help with continued improvement in every aspect of educator preparation in Kentucky.

In addition, Kentucky noted that the EPSB’s Program Accreditation and Review Committee (PARC) developed a template for program proposals and reviews as the basis for an online program submission and reporting system, which will incorporate performance data to further support the continuous improvement accreditation system and effectiveness in preparation programs. This work is ongoing.

Further, the state pointed out that the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS) collects and links data to evaluate education and workforce efforts in the Commonwealth. This includes developing reports and providing statistical data about these efforts so that policy makers, agencies, and the general public can make better-informed decisions. The EPSB has been a partner of KCEWS since its inception as the Kentucky P20 Data Collaborative work is continued, and expanded upon by KCEWS. KCEWS is a valuable resource/partner in working to ensure a continued effort is maintained to evaluate critical long-term cross- agency data via the Kentucky Longitudinal Data System (KLDS) for use by the public and policy makers. EPSB’s executive director serves on the KCEWS Board.

Kentucky concluded by noting that the EPSB Data Dash Board application has increased the amount of information available to the preparation providers and the general public on the quality of preparation programs and continues to evolve and add meaningful data as it becomes available. Data such as that collected by the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP)/Teacher Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) Pilot will allow for the PGES data collection system and KDE Continuous Improvement Instructional Technology System (CIITS) to be electronically transferred to the EPSB system so that EPPs (preparation programs) may utilize data collected on student growth and achievement. When the KTIP/PGES system is fully implemented, the data will be used as part of continuous improvement, accreditation, program approval and identification of the effectiveness of candidate preparation.

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.