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 is on the right track but 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. The state requires that 80 percent of program completers must pass their licensure exams. However, the 80 percent pass-rate standard, while common among many states, sets the bar quite low and is not a meaningful measure of program performance.
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.
In Texas, there is some overlap of accreditation and state approval. Review teams are comprised solely of NCATE/CAEP members, and the state has delegated its program review process to NCATE/CAEP.
Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data.
In order to make use of the data Texas already collects and publishes for accountability purposes, it is critical that the state establish minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data. The state should be mindful of setting rigorous standards for program performance, as its current requirement that 80 percent of program completers must pass their licensing exams is too low a bar. Programs should be held accountable for meeting rigorous standards, and there should be consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval.
Maintain full authority over teacher preparation program approval.
Texas should 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.
Texas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is in the process of creating a scorecard for individual educator preparation programs that will use data collected in a meaningful way to allow consumers (aspiring teachers, school districts and parents) to make fully informed data-driven decisions.
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.