Teacher Preparation Program Accountability:

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Teacher Preparation Program Accountability: Minnesota results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MN-Teacher-Preparation-Program-Accountability-69

Analysis of Minnesota's policies

Minnesota'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.

All preparation programs, including alternate route programs, produce a biannual report that must include pass rates on pedagogy and content exams, as well as the edTPA for accountability purposes. Candidates must be measured in three areas: planning for instruction and assessment, engaging students and supporting learning and assessing student learning.

In addition, Minnesota passed legislation in 2015 that requires each institution to submit an annual, publicly accessible report on its teacher preparation programs. Report cards must include the summative evaluation rating for all teachers who finished their probationary period and accepted a continuing contract position with the district. The annual report must also include a number of other measures, including but not limited to the licensure areas for probationary teachers whose contracts were not renewed or who were released by a district, the percentage of program completers who were hired to teach full time in their licensure field, students' pass rates on skills and subject-matter exams and satisfaction levels of program completers and school principals or supervising teachers. Unfortunately, these annual reports have not yet been funded. As of now, the state is working to determine how to meet this demand for information.

Minnesota does not, however, apply any transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval. Further, in the past three years, no programs in Minnesota have been identified as low performing.

Minnesota maintains control over its approval process.


Recommendations for Minnesota

Collect data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs.
While Minnesota requires programs to report the summative evaluation rating for all teachers who finished their probationary period and accepted a continuing contract position with the district, this provides a rather narrow slice of teacher effectiveness data as it reflects only one subset of teachers at one point in time. Minnesota should consider expanding its efforts to connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs. As one way to measure whether programs are producing effective classroom teachers, Minnesota 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.

Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data. 
Merely collecting data is insufficient for accountability purposes. The next and perhaps more critical step is for Minnesota to establish precise minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data. Programs should be held accountable for meeting rigorous standards, and there should be consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval. Although Minnesota now requires programs to report a variety of data, without standards for performance, it lacks any usefulness for accountability purposes.

Prioritize funding for program accountability system.
NCTQ points out that this Yearbook is based on the existence of regulations, not on the implementation of them. Although Minnesota's new legislation includes important elements of an accountability system for teacher preparation programs, it also appears that funding has not been provided to implement these requirements. NCTQ encourages the state to prioritize funding for program accountability.

State response to our analysis

Minnesota noted that any pass rates on exams below 80 percent or edTPA pass rates below 70 percent flag the program for additional review by a program review panel, requiring a deeper explanation of program performance by the institution or organization. Rules supporting have been informally in place since 2013 and 2014, respectively, but neither has been codified in Rule. The state expects that to happen shortly, when this process become effective January 1, 2016.

The state added that while it does not rate its programs as low performing, there have been a number of programs discontinued or institutions moved to "conditional approval" status with improvement measures identified. The 2015 Omnibus bill will now require the Board of Teaching as well as the Board of School administrators to provide report cards on programs.

The state indicated that evaluation of candidate performance in student teaching is built into the identified assessments of each program, required across all approved providers. An annual technical report providing testing pass rates is available on the Board of Teaching website.

Research rationale

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.