Teacher Preparation Program Accountability:
West Virginia

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. (2013). Teacher Preparation Program Accountability: West Virginia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/WV-Teacher-Preparation-Program-Accountability-20

Analysis of West Virginia's policies

West Virginia'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.
Most importantly, West Virginia does not collect or report 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."
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.
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. 

In West Virginia, there is some overlap of accreditation and state approval. Members of NCATE/CAEP and the state make up the review team and decisions are made jointly; state members must complete NCATE/CAEP training. West Virginia delegates its subject-matter program review process to NCATE/CAEP. Programs must align with NCATE/CAEP standards. 


Recommendations for West Virginia

Collect data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs. 
As one way to measure whether programs are producing effective classroom teachers, West Virginia 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 must therefore include other objective measures that show how well all programs are preparing teachers for the classroom. West Virginia should expand its current requirements to its alternate routes and also include such measures as:
1.    Evaluation results from the first and/or second year of teaching;
2.    Number of times, on average, it takes teacher candidates to pass licensing tests; and 
3.    Five-year retention rates of graduates in the teaching profession.

Establish the minimum standard 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 the state 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 for all teacher preparation programs. 

West Virginia should produce an annual, up-to-date report card that shows all the data the state collects on individual teacher preparation programs, which should be published on the state's website at the program level for the sake of public transparency. The state should also ensure that the data presented are as current as possible. Data should be presented in a manner that clearly conveys whether programs have met performance standards.

Maintain full authority over the process for approving teacher preparation programs. 
West Virginia should ensure that it is the state that considers the evidence of program performance and makes the decision about whether programs should continue to be authorized to prepare teachers. 

State response to our analysis

West Virginia asserted that it holds institutions responsible for the quality of the candidates they produce by requiring a minimum overall GPA of 2.5 for undergraduates and 3.0 for graduates, through the program approval process. The state added that programs must have an 80 percent or higher content exam pass rate and must have data from the performance assessments that reflect a minimum overall proficiency level for all candidates. Every institution is required to submit a program report for all programs leading to licensure, including alternative route programs. Processes are outlined in state protocol and are part of the accreditation process. 

Last word

West Virginia's 80 percent pass-rate standard, while common among many states, sets the bar quite low and is not a meaningful measure of program performance.

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.