Teacher Preparation Program Accountability:
New Jersey

2015 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy

Goal

The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.

Meets in part

Analysis of New Jersey's policies

New Jersey'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.

For its university-based preparation-program approval process, New Jersey requires that "where relevant, P-12 student achievement data" is used, but the state currently does not offer additional details to outline how these data are used during the program approval process.

The state also relies on some other objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of university-based teacher preparation programs, including the following documentation for its preparation program approval process:

  • Data on candidates' performance on program-based assessments at program completion
  • Numbers of educator candidates prepared in critical shortage areas and from diverse backgrounds
  • Placement and retention rates
  • Data on candidates' performance at the end of the provisional period
  • Praxis scores and pass rates
  • Follow-up survey of graduates and employers.
The state does not collect these data for its alternate routes, and there is no evidence that the state's standards for program approval are resulting in greater accountability. In the past three years, no program in New Jersey has been identified as low performing.

The state's website includes a report card that allows the public to review and compare program performance, including data on candidates' test scores and placements in the state.

In New Jersey, the state maintains authority over teacher preparation program approval. The state also conducts its own program reviews.

Lastly, all teacher preparation programs in New Jersey must be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Teacher preparation programs that fail to obtain CAEP accreditation must forfeit state approval.

Citation

Recommendations for New Jersey

Collect data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs. 
As one way to measure whether programs are producing effective classroom teachers, New Jersey 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.

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. New Jersey should be mindful of setting rigorous standards for program performance. Programs should be held accountable for meeting these standards, and there should be consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval.

Maintain full authority over the process for approving teacher preparation programs. 
New Jersey should not cede its authority and must 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

New Jersey indicated that when it released its latest Educator Preparation Provider Annual Report in August 2015, the version of the reports shared directly with preparation programs included effectiveness ratings for all teachers, for the first time. This data is based in part on student achievement data (Student Growth Percentiles and Student Growth Objectives). In keeping with the state’s approach to building these data systems and reports in a thoughtful, methodical manner that emphasizes collaboration with institutions of higher education, this evaluation data will be released only to deans and directors in this year’s report. Subsequent reports will make this data available to the public.

The state also commented that it is proposing significant shifts in alternate route teacher programs in the latest regulatory package. At the current time, these programs are structured in a way that makes reports impossible to create at the program level; however, once the shifts are made (by 2017-2018), the state will have the ability to create reports for each alternate route program.

The state asserted that it already maintains full authority over the process for approving teacher preparation programs. In addition, beginning in Fall 2015, the state launched a revised application and review process.

Lastly, the state noted that it is building a multistep program-approval process, which includes an internal review by the NJDOE, as well as a review by the State Program Approval Council, which consists of representation from prep programs as well as the K-12 community.

Last word

It is clear that New Jersey intends to include teacher evaluation data as part of its program approval process and that ensuring accuracy and correct use of this data is of utmost importance to the state. NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.

How we graded

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.