The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
Texas'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.
Commendably, to measure the performance of its teacher preparation programs, Texas requires that programs provide student achievement data regarding the academic achievement gains of students taught by the programs' graduates, averaged over the first three years of teaching.
The state also relies on other objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of teacher preparation programs. Texas collects data on certification examinations; to calculate pass rates, it divides the number of successful last attempts made by candidates who have finished the program requirements by the total number of last attempts made by those candidates. It also gathers information regarding beginning teacher performance, as measured by the results of beginning teacher appraisals by school administrators. Texas also offers ongoing support by field supervisors to beginning teachers during their first year in the classroom.
Regrettably, however, Texas fails to apply any transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval.
Finally, Texas also requires all programs to post an annual report on the state's website that includes satisfaction data, completer and employer surveys, average entrance exam scores for program participants, average GPA of participants, percentage of program participants obtaining teaching positions and three-year retention rates.
Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data.
Programs should be held accountable for meeting established standards of performance, with articulated consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval after appropriate due process.
Texas asserted that it has established four standards for accreditation of educator preparation programs: results of certification exam pass rates; beginning teacher performance as reported by principals; achievement, including improvement in achievement, of students taught by teachers in their first three years; and compliance with SBEC rules regarding the frequency, duration and quality of field supervision of first-year teachers.
Based on these criteria, preparation programs are issued an accreditation status. Further, Texas has developed the Consumer Information Website to assist future candidates in the selection of preparation programs as well as districts with staffing decisions. It provides information indicating the quality of persons admitted to the program, along with average academic qualifications.
Texas also noted that it has a process for approving new preparation programs that is formalized, transparent and requires measurable criteria, and that all requirements must be met prior to approval.
The state added that in September 2010, it contracted with the Project on Educator Effectiveness and Quality (PEEQ) to develop a metric that measures a teacher's effect on student achievement. "The objective is to assess the performance of new teachers in their first three years in the classroom and provide feedback to educator preparation programs, teachers and policymakers that will improve the quality of teaching and enhance student learning in Texas." PEEQ is developing a comprehensive assessment of a teacher's effectiveness that will consist of a value-added component and other qualitative measures, such as a principal survey based on classroom observations. A pilot metric is expected to be available in March 2012.
Finally, Texas pointed out that it has established the teacher-to-student link in the Public Information Management System (PEIMS), and in October 2011, these data will be used to link student scores to teachers.