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.

Meets a small part of goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). 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-69

Analysis of Wisconsin's policies

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. As of 2013-2014, each program is required to display its passage rate on the first attempt of recent graduates on licensure exams, and these measures of performance for each preparation program are publicly reported on the state's website.

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.


Recommendations for Wisconsin

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.

Gather other meaningful 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
5.    Five-year retention rates of graduates in the teaching profession.

Establish minimum standards of performance for each category of data.
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.

Publish an annual report card on the state's website.
While it is commendable that Wisconsin publicly releases program reports, the state should present meaningful data in a manner that clearly conveys whether programs have met performance standards.

State response to our analysis

Wisconsin was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

The state noted that its Educator Preparation Program Annual Report spans a two year period to include licensure and employment data for completers. The 2014 report is scheduled for release in Fall 2015. Additional data elements will be added to these reports including the Foundations of Reading Test for Wisconsin and the edTPA performance assessment.

Wisconsin is in the third year of the Continuous Review Process (CRP) of program approval. This includes an annual review for each educator preparation program (traditional and alternative route). The CRP focuses on the assessment system and candidate outcome data.

Three areas are moving in tandem at this time in Wisconsin; the CRP process of program approval, the EPP Annual Reports, and the Educator Effectiveness system. The state looks forward to its future.

Wisconsin has three program approval categories: Approved, Approved with Conditions, and Not Approved. Programs deemed not approved are reported in the HEOA Title II report. Wisconsin has not had a program in the Not Approved category. One program closed prior to its program approval review.

Research rationale

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.