The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
Louisiana is in the midst of revising its teacher preparation accountability system and is not currently using the data it collects to hold programs accountable for their graduates. However, Louisiana still collects more data than most other states, continues to make this data available to the public, and has indicated plans to reestablish its accountability system in the near future.
Currently, educator preparation programs are required to collect and report data on the performance and effectiveness of program graduates, as measured by student achievement. Specifically, the state reports value-added scores and the final evaluation ratings for first-and second-year teachers who have completed each teacher preparation program.
The state also publicly reports program data on five-year teacher retention rates and the passage rates for state teacher licensure assessments. This program data is made publicly available on Louisiana's Teacher Preparation Data Dashboards.
While the system is under revision, the only data for which there is a standard of performance to identify "At-Risk" and "Low Performing" teacher preparation programs is state licensure assessment data.
As noted, Louisiana is in the process of revising its process for holding traditional and alternate route teacher preparation programs accountable for the quality of teachers they produce. Due to the state's decision to adopt the Louisiana Department of Education's new value-added teacher evaluation model to evaluate teacher preparation programs during Fall 2011, the state decided that it would continue to report data about teacher preparation programs to the public but would delay final decisions about a Teacher Preparation Accountability System until the new teacher evaluation system was implemented.
Since that time, Louisiana has been working to redevelop its preparation program accountability system. As one component of this new plan, Louisiana will switch from the Value-Added Teacher Preparation Assessment Model it used in past years to a new model that uses the state's value-added teacher evaluation model. Once a new accountability structure is created for both universities and private providers, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will adopt the new policy, and the Board of Regents will revise the existing accountability structure.
With regard to the previous and current accountability system the state has in place, there is unfortunately no evidence that the state's criteria for conferring program approval resulted 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.
In Louisiana, national accreditation is required for program approval.
Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data.
While Louisiana is in the midst of transitioning to a new accountability system for its teacher preparation programs, the state should keep in mind that a critical step within this process is to establish precise minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data. Louisiana should be mindful of setting rigorous standards for program performance, and programs should be held accountable for meeting rigorous standards, with consequences for those failing to do so, including loss of program approval.
Louisiana was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
Louisiana also noted that it has done a great deal to provide teacher preparation programs and the public with information to examine regarding the effectiveness of programs.
The state further asserted that NCTQ does not take into consideration the proactive efforts occurring in Louisiana to terminate programs before "low performance" becomes an issue for federal reporting. From 2002-2010, all universities underwent redesign to address more rigorous state expectations, and universities self-selected to not continue to offer specific degrees because they were aware that their programs did not have the capacity to meet the expectations of national experts who reviewed the programs based on the more rigorous state expectations. Universities that met expectations have continued to monitor the implementation of their programs and have self-selected to terminate programs when they have determined that they would not meet NCATE/TEAC/CAEP expectations or would not meet minimum degree completion rates for the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents reported universities requesting termination of six teacher preparation degrees areas in Spring 2013 and eight teacher preparation degrees in April 2015 due to low completion rates. When universities lost funds due to budget cuts and no longer have faculty or funds to effectively implement programs, they have self-selected to terminate their programs as noted in minutes for the Board of Regents. Performances of first- and second-year teachers for the state teacher evaluation system are reported to the public for each individual teacher preparation program. Data reported to the public during October 2015 indicated that out of all teachers in the state who were rated ineffective only approximately 7 percent were first- or second-year teachers who had completed Louisiana's alternate or undergraduate teacher preparation programs. NCTQ is not taking into consideration that universities can choose to self-select to terminate programs before reaching a point of being identified as at-risk or low performing to the USDE.
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.