Teacher Preparation Program Accountability:
Colorado

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 Colorado's policies

Colorado'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.

The state will produce an annual report that shows the relationship between teacher preparation programs and student academic growth. The effectiveness of programs will be examined using aggregate data, including the correlation among different preparation programs and student academic growth, educator placement, educator mobility and retention. The report will be limited to language arts and math teachers in grades 3-10, as those are the only students tested by the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP). 

However, it does not appear that Colorado has articulated a plan to apply any transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval. 

These reports will be available to the public on the state's website. 

In Colorado, the state maintains full authority over teacher preparation program approval.

Citation

Recommendations for Colorado

Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data for accountability purposes. 
In order to make use of the data Colorado plans to collect and publish for accountability purposes, it is critical that the state establish 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

Colorado recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

The state further noted that it is currently moving its educator effectiveness work into educator preparation program accountability. The Colorado Department of Education will be working on reports of the effectiveness of the graduates of the state's preparation programs, including IHE-based programs as well as alternate programs.

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.