Teacher Preparation Program Accountability:
Rhode Island

2015 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.

Nearly meets

Analysis of Rhode Island's policies

Rhode Island has teacher preparation program standards that require approved programs to produce effective educators, based on evaluation performance. Candidates must "demonstrate a positive impact on student learning on all applicable measures and demonstrate strong ratings on measures of professional practice and responsibilities." 

Rhode Island also relies on other objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of teacher preparation programs. The state requires that programs "engage in regular and systematic evaluations (including, but not limited to, information obtained through student assessment, and collection of data from students, recent graduates, and other members of the professional community)." 

The state, however, does not appear to have established transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval.

Rhode Island publishes program findings on its website. The Educator Preparation Index reports data on total program completers, teacher evaluation results statewide and by program, program graduate placements by school, certification area and school improvement status, exam average scores and pass rates by program and state, and the median GPA of accepted program candidates.

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


Recommendations for Rhode Island

Gather other meaningful data that reflect program performance. 
It is commendable that Rhode Island includes teacher evaluation results in its assessment of teacher preparation programs, which include professional practice measures for all teachers and student growth measures, where applicable. However, while measures of student growth are an important indicator of program effectiveness, 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. Rhode Island should expand its requirements to its alternate routes and also include such measures as:  
1.   Satisfaction ratings by school principals and teacher supervisors of programs' student teachers, using a standardized form to permit program comparison
2.    Average raw scores of teacher candidates on licensing tests, including academic proficiency, subject matter and professional knowledge tests
3.    Number of times, on average, it takes teacher candidates to pass licensing tests
4.    Five-year retention rates of graduates in the teaching profession.

Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data. 
In order to make use of the data Rhode Island already collects and publishes for accountability purposes, it is critical that the state establish minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data. 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

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

The state also asserted that all approved programs within the state are held to the same set of expectations and participate in the same approval process. Within that review process there are components that account for/gauge completer employer satisfaction and completer employment data.

In addition, Rhode Island commented that program completer employment data can be accessed through the Educator Preparation Index. Version II of the Index, to be released in November 2015, will include three-year in-state retention rates for completers.

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.