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 2017.
Minimum Standards of Performance: Pennsylvania does not set meaningful minimum standards of performance for the categories of data that programs must report. The state collects programs' licensure test pass rates and requires that the three-year average for summary pass rates is at least 80 percent, and that the three-year average for each single assessment pass rate, including both completers and enrolled students, is at least 80 percent. This 80 percent pass-rate standard, while quite common among states, sets the bar quite low and is not a meaningful measure of program performance.
Program Accountability: Pennsylvania articulates some consequences for programs that fail to meet specific criteria. The state designates a program as "low performing" if does not meet the state's minimum standard of performance, received conditional status during a major review, and based on percentage of enrolled students who complete the program. At that point, a program will receive technical assistance from the program's state liaison. However, it is unclear what the consequences are for low performing programs or what triggers loss of approval.
State Report Cards: Pennsylvania publishes annual reports showing the program licensure pass rates but does not include any other information.
Program Approval Process: Pennsylvania maintains full authority over teacher preparation program approval. The state also conducts its own program reviews.
Establish meaningful minimum standards of performance for each category of data.
Pennsylvania 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 current 80 percent pass rate standard is too low a bar to be meaningful.
Ensure that criteria for program approval result in greater accountability.
Pennsylvania should ensure that programs are held accountable for meeting minimum standards of performance, and that the state's accountability system is sufficient to differentiate performance among programs, including alternate route programs. The state should establish clear follow-up actions for programs failing to meet these standards that go beyond labeling a program "low performing," including remediation or loss of program approval as appropriate. For programs exceeding minimum standards, Pennsylvania should consider finding effective ways to disseminate best practices.
Publish an annual report card on the state's website.
While Pennsylvania has taken the step to make some data available though annual reports, it should publish reports that clearly display all program-level data the state collects on individual teacher preparation programs, disaggregated at the program-level, rather than at the level of the institution. Data should be presented in a manner that transparently conveys whether programs have met performance standards.
Pennsylvania was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
Pennsylvania provided while it implements and collects an annual report from all approved preparation programs, the report is not disaggregated and publicly reported by each individual approved program. The state added that Approved preparation program providers received an aggregated data report in October 2017 that included the following data elements: 1) Number of formally enrolled candidates, candidates retained, and candidates who completed 2) average GPA, 3) Credits required for entry into program, 4) Credits for program completion 5) Number of pre-student teaching field hours 6) Number of weeks of student teaching 7) Percent pass rate per program 8) Professional development required of faculty
The state also added that "low performing" programs must submit an action plan.
Pennsylvania provided that while it now accepts Council for the Accreditation of Education Programs (CAEP) for specific programs where Specialized Professional Associations (SPAs) exist, the Department retains authority over program and provider approval.
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.