General Teacher Preparation Policy
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.
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.
603 CMR 7.03 Guidelines for Program Approval https://www.doe.mass.edu/edprep/review/program-approval.docx Educator Preparation Reports http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/state_report/#Educator%20Preparation
Establish the minimum standards of performance for each category of data.
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.
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).
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.