Program Reporting Requirements: Massachusetts

General Teacher Preparation Policy

Goal

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 2021.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2021). Program Reporting Requirements: Massachusetts results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MA-Program-Reporting-Requirements-89

Analysis of Massachusetts's policies

Minimum Standards of Performance: Massachusetts does not set minimum standards of performance for programs.  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.

State Report Cards: Massachusetts publishes annual reports 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. The state also publishes institutional ratings on the report cards.

Program Approval Process: Massachusetts maintains full authority over teacher preparation program approval.

Citation

Recommendations for Massachusetts

Establish the minimum standards of performance for each category of data.
Massachusetts should establish precise minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data it collects to help clarify expectations regarding program quality.

Ensure program accountability decisions are based on minimum standards of performance.

While Massachusetts has the structure of a program accountability system, including follow-up actions for programs failing to meet standards, it has not set minimum standards it can use to implement this accountability process. As Massachusetts further develops its accountability system, it should ensure that the system is sufficient to differentiate performance among programs, including alternate route programs, and that it is clear at what point a program's approval will be revoked. For programs exceeding minimum standards, Massachusetts should consider finding effective ways to disseminate best practices.

State response to our analysis

Massachusetts recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.  Massachusetts also noted that it has asked research partners at CALDER to analyze the predictiveness of their program review process as it pertains to teacher and student outcomes once employed. The state indicated that early analysis is promising about the effects and may suggest that NCTQ's expectation for defined cut off points is not essential to strong and effective accountability. Massachusetts will share the paper once published (expected Fall 2020).

Updated: March 2021

How we graded

1D: Program Reporting Requirements 

  • Minimum Standards: The state should establish a minimum standard of performance for each category of data that is collected.
  • Articulated Consequences for Failure to Meet Minimum Standards: The state should have articulated consequences for programs failing to meet minimum standards of performance or other program review criteria and should require specific steps to develop a remediation plan. Program accountability should include the possibility of the loss of program approval.
  • Annual Reporting: The state should publish an annual report card that provides data collected for each individual teacher preparation program as part of the program approval process or the report card provides data that indicates the quality of preparation provided by an institution or program (e.g. licensure pass rates, teaching effectiveness of program graduates, employer satisfaction survey data).
  • Approval Authority: The state should retain full authority over its process approving teacher preparation programs and should not grant any approval authority to accrediting bodies.
Minimum Standards
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if minimum standards of performance are set for each category of data the teacher preparation programs are required to report.

Articulated Consequences for Failure to Meet Minimum Standards

One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it holds teacher preparation programs accountable, and clearly articulates the consequences for failing to meet the minimum standards, which may include loss of program approval.

Annual Reporting
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it publishes data collected as part of the state's program approval process of individual teacher preparation programs on an annual basis or, the state will earn one-quarter of a point if it publishes data that indicates the quality of preparation provided by an institution or program (e.g. licensure pass rates, teaching effectiveness of program graduates, employer satisfaction survey data) on an annual basis.

Approval Authority

One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it retains full authority over the process for approving teacher preparation programs.

Research rationale

The state should examine a number of factors when measuring the performance of and approving teacher preparation programs.[1] 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.[2]

States have made great strides in building data systems with the capacity to provide evidence of teacher performance.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] Clear state policy would eliminate this uncertainty and send an unequivocal message to programs about the state's expectations.[6]


[1] For general information about teacher preparation program approval see Rotherham, A. J., & Mead, S. (2004). Back to the future: The history and politics of state teacher licensure and certification. In F. Hess, A. J. Rotherham, & K. Walsh (Eds.), A qualified teacher in every classroom (11-47). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Retrieved from https://www.nctq.org/nctq/research/1109818629821.pdf
[2] For additional discussion and research of how teacher education programs can add value to their teachers, see National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Teacher Prep Review. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/teacherPrep/2016/home.do
[3] Walsh, K., & Jacobs, S. (2007). Alternative certification isn't alternative. Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Retrieved from
http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED498382.pdf

[4] For additional research on the status of teacher quality and the strengths and weaknesses of accreditation programs and policies in the U.S., see: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education. (2010). The secretary's seventh annual report on teacher quality: A highly qualified teacher in every classroom. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/reports/annual/teachprep/t2r7.pdf
[5] For a discussion of the lack of evidence that national accreditation status enhances teacher preparation programs' effectiveness, see: Ballou, D., & Podgursky, M. (1999, July). Teacher training and licensure: A layman's guide. Marci Kanstoroom and Chester E. Finn., Jr. (eds.), In Better teachers, better schools (pp. 45-47). Washington, DC: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.edexcellence.net/sites/default/files/publication/pdfs/btrtchrs_10.pdf; Greenberg, J., & Walsh, K. (2008, June). No common denominator: The preparation of elementary teachers in mathematics by America's education schools. Washington, DC: National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/No_Common_Denominator_NCTQ_Report; Walsh, K., Glaser, D., & Wilcox, D. (2006, May). What education schools aren't teaching about reading and what elementary teachers aren't learning. Washington, DC: National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/What_Ed_Schools_Arent_Teaching_About_Reading_NCTQ_Report
[6] See Walsh, K., Joseph, N., & Lewis, A. (2016, November). Within our grasp: Achieving higher admissions standards in teacher prep. 2016 State Teacher Policy Yearbook Report Series. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Admissions_Yearbook_Report