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: Minnesota does not set minimum standards of performance for the data collected by teacher preparation programs. The state now requires programs to ensure that at least 70% of candidates pass state-required examinations. This 70% pass-rate standard sets the bar quite low and is not a meaningful measure of program performance. The state also requires aggregate candidate scores and pass rates for content tests and performance assessments in the previous three years. However, the state does not set minimum standards of performance for these data.
Program Accountability: Minnesota articulates consequences for programs that fail to meet specific criteria, although the 70% pass rate is not a meaningful minimum standard. Minnesota does delineate consequences, including conferring discontinued program status, for programs that do not meet standards and do not improve. Program approval is based on data provided in the Program Effectiveness Report for Continuing Approval (PERCA) which includes data on the 70% pass rate requirement.
State Report Cards: Minnesota does not produce and publish an annual report card that shows all the data the state collects on individual teacher preparation programs. State law requires that programs prepare annual reports with at least three consecutive years of data including: percentage of teachers who received a standard license and are hired to teach full time in their licensure area; pass rates on content tests in program and licensure area; and satisfaction survey results from program graduates, supervising principals, and teachers. However, these data are not publicly available.
The state also requires districts to report data on teachers including the effectiveness rating and preparation program that prepared the teacher in their primary area of instruction and licensure. However, these data are not publicly available.
Program Approval Process: Minnesota maintains full authority over teacher preparation program approval. The state has two different approval processes depending on whether it is unit approval (educator preparation providers) or program approval. New legislation allows educator preparation providers to substitute national accreditation in lieu of meeting certain state standards. However, the state still maintains full authority over review and approval of educator preparation programs.
Establish meaningful minimum standards of performance for each category of data.
Minnesota should establish precise minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data it collects to help clarify expectations regarding program quality. The 70 percent pass rate standard is too low to be a meaningful minimum standard.
Publish an annual report card on the state's website.
As a first step, Minnesota should ensure that the annual reports prepared by programs are made available to the public on the state's website, at a minimum. In addition, Minnesota should consider producing its own publicly available, annual report card that clearly displays program-level data the state collects on individual teacher preparation programs. Data should be presented in a manner that transparently conveys whether programs have met performance standards.
Minnesota did not respond to NCTQ's request to review this analysis for accuracy.
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.