Teacher Preparation Program Accountability:
Louisiana

2013 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

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

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

Analysis of Louisiana's policies

Louisiana's approval process for its traditional and alternate route teacher preparation programs holds programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.

Commendably, Louisiana relies on its Value-Added Teacher Preparation Assessment Model, which collects value-added data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs. The model evaluates first- and second-year teachers who teach grades 4-9 in math, and grades 4-8 in science, social studies, reading or language arts. It predicts the achievement of individual students based on prior achievement, demographics and attendance and then, compares this growth to actual performance using the state's LEAP tests. Institutions are then placed in one of five levels to identify how well students taught by new teachers meet achievement targets as compared to students taught by experienced teachers. 

Value-added results are available for eight traditional teacher preparation programs for 10 universities and two private providers; results are not yet available for nine additional universities due to the small number of new teachers who have completed the redesigned programs in the five content areas. In addition, data are aggregated across elementary and secondary programs. 

Louisiana also relies on some other objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of teacher preparation programs. The state requires that certain indicators be integrated into the formula to calculate the "Teacher Preparation Performance Score." Indicators include percentage of program completers who passed Praxis subtests, ratings by new teachers of the quality of their preparation programs to prepare them for their first year of teaching and the quantity of program completers.

Further, Louisiana appears to apply transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval. Program scores are determined on the basis of a relatively complex rating formula. The state provides a system to reward programs that attain performance scores each year at an "exemplary" and "high performing" level. Teacher preparation programs that are rated as being "at risk" for four years, or programs designated as "low performing" that do not become "satisfactory" within two years, lose their state approval.

Regrettably, there is no evidence that the state's criteria for conferring program approval are resulting in greater accountability. In the past three years, not a single program in the state has been identified in required federal reporting as low performing. 

The state makes its findings available by posting the data and program grades on its website. 

In Louisiana, national accreditation is required for program approval. 

Citation

Recommendations for Louisiana

Distinguish between preparation programs in public reporting.   

It would be more useful to the public—especially hiring school districts—if Louisiana's reports on teacher preparation program performance included specific data at the program level. Aggregation at the institutional level may mask significant differences in program performance, for example, between elementary and secondary programs or between traditional and alternate route programs. 

Ensure that criteria for program approval result in greater accountability.

Louisiana should ensure that its system is sufficient to differentiate program performance, including among alternate route programs, and that follow-up actions are taken as warranted for poorly performing programs, including loss of program approval.

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

Louisiana should not cede its authority and must 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

Louisiana was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

How we graded

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.