The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
Wisconsin'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.
Wisconsin requires programs to submit a list of program completers who have been recommended for licensure, and performance of graduates will be used to evaluate preparation programs. Beginning in 2013-2014, each program must display its passage rate on the first attempt of recent graduates on licensure exams, and a system will be developed to publicly report these measures of performance for each preparation program.
However, Wisconsin has not set minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data it collects that can be used for accountability purposes.
Further, in the past three years, no programs in the state have been identified as low performing—an additional indicator that programs lack accountability.
Wisconsin maintains control over its approval process.
Wisconsin Administrative Code, PI 34.06 2011 Wisconsin Act 166
Collect data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs.
As one way to measure whether programs are producing effective classroom teachers, Wisconsin should consider the academic achievement gains of students taught by programs' graduates, averaged over the first three years of teaching. Data that are aggregated to the institution (e.g., combining elementary and secondary programs) rather than disaggregated to the specific preparation program are not useful for accountability purposes. Such aggregation can mask significant differences in performance among programs.
Collect other meaningful, program-level data that reflect program performance.
Although measures of student growth are an important indicator of program effectiveness, they cannot be the sole measure of program quality for several reasons, including the fact that many programs may have graduates whose students do not take standardized tests. The accountability system in Wisconsin must therefore include other objective measures that show how well programs are preparing teachers for the classroom, such as:
1. Evaluation results from the first and/or second year of teaching;
2. Satisfaction ratings by school principals and teacher supervisors of programs' student teachers, using a standardized form to permit program comparison;
3. Average raw scores of teacher candidates on licensing tests, including academic proficiency, subject matter and professional knowledge tests;
4. Number of times, on average, it takes teacher candidates to pass licensing tests; and
5. Five-year retention rates of graduates in the teaching profession.
Establish minimum standards of performance.
Merely collecting the types of data described above is insufficient for accountability purposes. The next and perhaps more critical step is for Wisconsin to establish precise minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data. Programs should then be held accountable for meeting these standards, and there should be consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval.
Wisconsin recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is in the process of developing the Evaluation of Teacher Preparation Programs system.
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.