Teacher Preparation Program Accountability:
New Mexico

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.

Nearly meets

Analysis of New Mexico's policies

New Mexico's approval process for its traditional and alternate route teacher preparation programs is moving in the right direction to hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.

The state has announced plans to collect and report data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs in the future.

In addition, New Mexico is required to produce an annual educator accountability report. This report must include a number of data including, but not limited to, indicators that show how a program is working to increase student achievement for all students, teacher retention, the percentage of candidates who pass the New Mexico teacher assessment for initial licensure on the first attempt, the percentage of secondary and elementary core academic classes taught by teachers who demonstrate subject-mastery by means of a rigorous content area assessment, and the number of teachers trained in math, science and technology.

The state does not yet have a policy that applies transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval. New Mexico does collect programs' annual summary licensure test pass rates (80 percent of program completers must pass their licensure exams). However, the 80 percent pass-rate standard, while common among many states, sets the bar quite low and is not a meaningful measure of program performance.

Further, in the past three years, no programs in the state have been identified as low performing—an additional indicator that programs currently lack accountability. 

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

Citation

Recommendations for New Mexico

Collect data that connect student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs. 
It is commendable that New Mexico is going to collect preparation programs' graduates' performance on in-classroom evaluations. As the state embarks on this work, it 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. 
As New Mexico begins collecting program data for the approval process, 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 Mexico should be mindful of setting rigorous standards for program performance, as its current requirement that 80 percent of program graduates pass the state's licensing tests is too low a bar. Programs should be held accountable for meeting rigorous standards, and there should be consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval.

State response to our analysis

New Mexico was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts necessary for this analysis.

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.