The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
West 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.
Most importantly, West Virginia does not collect value-added data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs. However, the state's regulations indicate that "additional data to be collected shall include initiatives underway in the unit and the unit's involvement with P-12 schools."
Commendably, West Virginia does rely on other objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of its traditional teacher preparation programs. Programs must supply the following data to the state on an annual basis: the average raw score of candidates admitted to the program on the preprofessional skills test; the satisfaction rating by cooperating teachers on student teachers from the institution; and the average raw score of candidates on subject matter and pedagogy exams. However, it does not appear that the state applies any transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval and does not collect these data for its alternate route.
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 West Virginia have been identified in required federal reporting as low performing.
Although West Virginia publishes "The Quality of Teacher Preparation" report—which contains data regarding the performance of teacher education program completers on state assessments, institutionally designed performance assessments, field experiences and student teaching—on the state's website, the most recent report is dated 2007-2008.
Collect data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs.
To ensure that programs are producing effective classroom teachers, West 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.
Although West Virginia relies on some objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of teacher preparation programs, the state should expand its requirements to include other metrics such as 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 for all teacher preparation programs.
To inform the public with meaningful, readily understandable indicators of how well programs are doing, West Virginia should present all the data it collects on individual teacher preparation programs, including alternate routes. The state should also ensure that the data presented are as current as possible.
West Virginia asserted that it holds institutions responsible for the quality of the candidates they produce by requiring, through the program approval process, a minimum overall GPA of 2.5 for undergraduates and 3.0 for graduates. Further, programs must have an 80 percent or higher content exam pass rate.
The state added that programs must have data from performance assessments that reflect a minimum overall proficiency level for all candidates. Every institution is required to submit a report for all programs leading to licensure, including alternate route programs. Processes are outlined in the state protocol and are part of the accreditation process.
West Virginia also noted that several elements for the "Quality of Teacher Preparation Report" are annually collected and reported to Title II, and are published in the "West Virginia Department of Education Personnel Data Report."
The standards the state describes address the quality of the candidates programs admit, not the quality of their graduates. Further, while the state's 80 percent pass-rate standard is common among many states, it sets the bar quite low and is not a meaningful measure of program performance.