The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Minimum Standards of Performance: Massachusetts does not set minimum standards of performance for programs. The state gathers programs' annual summary licensure test pass rates but has no specific cut-score. Approval standards include educator effectiveness, as determined by using evaluation ratings, employment data, and survey data, but the state does not specify a minimum standard for any of these data points.
Program Accountability: Massachusetts holds programs accountable by evaluating performance in six domains: The Organization, Partnerships, Continuous Improvement, The Candidate, Field-Based Experiences, and Instruction. Each domain contains criteria, and each criterion is comprised of specific evidence, some of which is objective, such as test scores and retention rates; other criteria are subjective, such as on-site interviews, and these are rated on a scale of 1 (Insufficient) to 4 (Compelling). Based on an evaluation of the evidence in each domain, a program is given one of five ratings, the highest being Approved with Distinction and the lowest, Not Approved. While the state uses a considerable amount of evidence in its program approval process, it does not specify any minimums or definitive cut points.
In the past year, Massachusetts has designated providers across its spectrum of ratings from Approved with Distinction, using this determination for the first time, to Probationary Approval.
As required by Title II, Massachusetts must identify programs that are at risk or low performing, although the state Department of Education has also added a high performing designation. This process is separate from but related to the program approval process. The state makes this identification on the basis of the data it collects on completers as well the approval status of the program. If the state designates a program as low performing, it must submit a written improvement plan and, if after one year the program has not made satisfactory progress, program approval may be revoked.
State Report Cards: Massachusetts publishes annual report cards showing the data the state has collected on individual teacher preparation programs, including single assessment and aggregate pass rates on licensing tests, employment rates of completers, and survey data from a variety of stakeholders.
Program Approval Process: Massachusetts maintains full authority over teacher preparation program approval.
Establish the minimum standards of performance for each category of data.
Massachusetts was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
1D: Program Reporting Requirements
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 systems can be used to link teacher effectiveness to the teacher preparation programs from which they came. States should make such data, as well as other objective measures that go beyond licensure test pass rates, central components of their teacher preparation program approval processes, and they should establish precise standards for performance that are more useful for accountability purposes.
National accrediting bodies, such as CAEP, are raising the bar, but are no substitute for states' own policy. A number of states now have somewhat more rigorous academic standards for admission by virtue of requiring that programs meet CAEP's accreditation standards. However, whether CAEP will uniformly uphold its standards (especially as they have already backtracked on the GPA requirement) and deny accreditation to programs that fall short of these admission requirements remains to be seen. Clear state policy would eliminate this uncertainty and send an unequivocal message to programs about the state's expectations.