Teacher Preparation Program Accountability :
Virginia

2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Teacher Preparation Program Accountability : Virginia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/VA-Teacher-Preparation-Program-Accountability--6

Analysis of Virginia's policies

Virginia's approval process for its traditional and alternate route teacher preparation programs does not hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.

Virginia requires "evidence of contributions to preK-12 student achievement by candidates completing the program." However, the state then articulates that one required indicator of the achievement of this standard is evidence of the ability to affect student learning, "through the use of multiple sources of data such as a culminating experience, portfolios, interviews, videotaped and observed performance in schools, standardized tests, and course grades." Regrettably, this does not ensure that objective evidence of student achievement will be utilized to connect student achievement gains to preparation programs.

The state relies on some other objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of traditional teacher preparation programs, but not its alternate route programs. It requires evidence of employer job satisfaction with program completers. "The indicator of the achievement of this standard shall include documentation that the education program has two years of evidence regarding candidate performance based on employer surveys." However, these data are not collected for alternate route programs.

In addition, Virginia collects programs' annual summary licensure test pass rates and requires that 80 percent of program completers and exiters pass their licensure exams. However, the 80 percent pass-rate standard sets the bar quite low and is not a meaningful measure of program performance.

Further, there is no evidence that the state's standards for program approval are resulting in greater accountability. In the past three years, no programs in Virginia have been identified in required federal reporting as low performing.

Finally, Virginia's website does not include a report card that allows the public to review and compare program performance.

Citation

Recommendations for Virginia

Collect data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs.
To ensure that programs are producing effective classroom teachers, Virginia should consider academic achievement gains of students taught by the programs' graduates, averaged over the first three years of teaching.

Gather other meaningful data that reflect program performance.
In addition to knowing whether programs are producing effective teachers, other objective, meaningful data can also indicate whether programs are appropriately screening applicants and if they are delivering essential academic and professional knowledge. Building on the data the state currently collects for its traditional teacher preparation programs, Virginia should gather data for all teacher preparation programs, such as the following: average raw scores of graduates on licensing tests, including basic skills, subject matter and professional knowledge tests; satisfaction ratings by school principals and teacher supervisors of programs' student teachers, using a standardized form to permit program comparison; evaluation results from the first and/or second year of teaching; and five-year retention rates of graduates in the teaching profession.

Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data.
Programs should be held accountable for meeting these standards, with articulated consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval after appropriate due process. 

Publish an annual report card on the state's website.
To inform the public with meaningful, readily understandable indicators of how well programs are doing, Virginia should present all the data it collects on individual teacher preparation programs.  

State response to our analysis

Virginia asserted that colleges and universities are required to collect data on student performance, such as candidate test scores and employer satisfaction surveys, which are reviewed during accreditation reviews.  

The state also contended that although there is no state report card, Title II and biennial-measures reports are publicly reported on the website.

How we graded

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. 

Research rationale

For discussion of teacher preparation program approval see Andrew Rotherham'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, 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, Tomorrow's Teachers: Evaluation Education Schools, 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, ed. Marci Kanstoroom and Chester E. Finn. Jr. (Washington, D.C.: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, 1999), 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.