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.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Teacher Preparation Program Accountability : Wisconsin results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/WI-Teacher-Preparation-Program-Accountability--6

Analysis of Wisconsin's policies

Wisconsin'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.

Most importantly, Wisconsin does not collect value-added data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs.

The state also fails to collect other objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of teacher preparation programs, and it does not apply any transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval. Wisconsin does require evidence that graduate follow-up studies have been conducted with both graduates and the employers of graduates, and that the data have been used to inform program changes. However, this language is too vague to ensure that objective, meaningful data will be collected. 

Further, in the past three years, no programs in the state have been identified as low performing—an additional indicator that programs lack accountability.

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


Recommendations for Wisconsin

Collect data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs.
To ensure that programs are producing effective classroom teachers, Wisconsin 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. Wisconsin should gather data 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, Wisconsin should present all the data it collects on individual teacher preparation programs.  

State response to our analysis

Wisconsin noted that it is currently developing a new online licensing system, the Educator Licensing Online (ELO) Initiative, which will connect to an agency data warehouse. The state added that it is also in the process expanding its Longitudinal Data System (LDS), which captures student data. Data will be shared between these two systems in the data warehouse. Value-added data will be matched to teachers and utilized within the Educator Effectiveness evaluation system, and as data for educator preparation programs.

Wisconsin added that program approval procedures require that a formal report be issued to each campus along with an approval decision by the state superintendent. The state acknowledged that it does not have any low-performing programs, but adds that it is proud of that fact. Candidates cannot complete a program and be endorsed for licensure until successfully posting a passing score on the state-approved content tests. Individual test score data are maintained by each IHE and are not collected by the state. Consequently, Wisconsin will show a 100 percent pass rate on federal and state reporting.

Wisconsin also contended that individual test score data, number of attempts and subscores are utilized by each IHE for program improvement, and graduate and employer follow-up surveys are required. These data are reviewed as part of the on-site review and are maintained at the IHE. Annually, each Wisconsin public school district must submit a staffing report indicating all staff employed in each school in their district. These data are then paired with licensing data to annually provide each IHE with a data set from the department that includes the names of each licensed teacher prepared at their IHE and their employment status within public schools in Wisconsin. Retention studies can then be conducted by IHE programs.

Finally, the state noted that currently, a work group comprised of representatives from six of its public universities, six of its private colleges/universities and the department of public instruction are developing the Continuous Review Process (CRP), which will rely heavily on outcome data. Efforts are underway to build the ELO and LDS along with the Educator Effectiveness evaluation system to provide even greater outcome data for use in the CRP process.

Last word

Wisconsin's pride in the fact that it has no low-performing programs is based on a low bar. Although the state may ensure that all programs report 100 percent pass rates on content tests, the cut scores for these tests are set quite low. For example, as noted in Goal 1-B, Wisconsin sets the cut score for elementary teachers on the content test a full standard deviation below the mean, or at about the 16th percentile.  

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:

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.