The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
Michigan's approval process for its traditional and alternate route teacher preparation programs could do more to hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
Michigan uses Teacher Preparation Performance Scores for its traditional programs, which includes a "teaching success rate," defined as the number of new teachers from the program who have been evaluated as at least satisfactory, divided by the total number of teachers who were placed during that focus year and for whom a rating was received. It remains unclear how the teaching success rate will specifically consider academic achievement gains of students taught by the programs' graduates, averaged over the first three years of teaching.
The state relies on other objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of traditional teacher preparation programs. Current components of Michigan's Teacher Preparation Performance Score are test pass rates (30 points), program review (10 points), program completion (10 points), survey of candidates and supervisors (10 points) and institutional responsiveness to state need (10 points).
The state also appears to apply transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval. A program that scores 52-55 points is deemed "at-risk"; one that scores below 52 points is "low performing." Low-performing programs have two years to improve before penalties are imposed.
Michigan makes its findings available by posting the data and program grades on its website.
For its alternate route, Michigan requires programs to report how many teachers were certified under each program and how long participating teachers served in the classroom and to compare the evaluations of participating teachers and teachers with traditional certification. A report is published on the state's website, but the published data relate primarily to enrollment and do not seem to have been updated since 2009.
In Michigan, national accreditation is required for program approval.
Collect data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs.
As one way to measure whether programs are producing effective classroom teachers, Michigan should consider the academic achievement gains of students taught by programs' graduates, averaged over the first three years of teaching. Data that are aggregated to the institution (e.g., combining elementary and secondary programs) rather than disaggregated to the specific preparation program are not useful for accountability purposes. Such aggregation can mask significant differences in performance among programs.
Gather other meaningful data that reflect program performance.
Although Michigan relies on some objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of teacher preparation programs, the state should expand its current requirements for traditional teacher preparation programs to apply to alternate route programs and include additional metrics, such as five-year retention rates of graduates in the teaching profession.
Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data for all teacher preparation programs.
Michigan is commended for setting standards for performance for its traditional teacher preparation programs. The state should apply such standards to its alternate route programs, which should also be held accountable for meeting established standards and face articulated consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval after appropriate due process.
Maintain full authority over the process for approving teacher preparation programs.
Michigan 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.
Michigan recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.