Teacher Preparation Program Accountability:
Tennessee

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 Tennessee's policies

Tennessee's approval process for its traditional and alternate route teacher preparation programs is on the right track but could do more to hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.

Most importantly, Tennessee requires an assessment on the effectiveness of teacher training programs, with a focus on the institutions' graduates and teacher effect data.

In addition, the state also requires programs to gather other objective, meaningful data, including:

  • Recruitment, selection, graduation, placement and retention rates in teacher education
  • Academic measures of teacher education graduates, including GPA, test scores and first time pass rights on content assessments
  • School system feedback on the performance of graduates during apprentice years using results from local evaluations
  • Feedback from graduates using a common instrument
  • Faculty involvement in schools.
However, it does not appear that Tennessee applies any transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval, and 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 the state have been identified in required federal reporting as low performing.

Tennessee's website does include a report card that allows the public to review and compare traditional teacher preparation program performance. The report card includes placement and retention rates, performance on licensing exams and teacher effect data.

In Tennessee, although programs have the option but are not required to seek accreditation through CAEP, the state requires that programs must meet CAEP standards to be approved.

Citation

Recommendations for Tennessee

Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data. 
Tennessee should 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.

State response to our analysis

Tennessee recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

The state also commented that the new Educator Preparation Policy outlines requirements that include annual reporting requirements based on objective and meaningful data. Tennessee is currently convening an Implementation Working Group that has been tasked with further defining the metrics outlined in the policy as well as setting benchmarks for these metrics.

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.