More Accountability Needed for Teacher Prep Programs

A new report from the GAO says that despite federal reporting requirements under Title II of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which include assessing whether any Teacher Preparation Programs (TPP) are low-performing, some states do not have a process, and the Department of Education does not verify state procedures. Furthermore, the Department of Education does not have mechanisms for information-sharing, however, because the workgroup that used to facilitate such information-sharing was discontinued. According to the report, even when states are collecting information about TPPS, there are questions about the usefulness of the data.

Recommendations

  • The Secretary of Education should develop a risk-based, cost-effective strategy to verify that states are implementing a process for assessing whether any teacher preparation programs are low-performing.
  • The Secretary of Education should study the usefulness of Title II data elements for policymakers and practitioners, and, if warranted, develop a proposal for Congress to eliminate or revise any statutorily-required elements that are not providing meaningful information.
  • The Secretary of Education should identify potential limitations in the Title II data and consistently disclose these limitations in the reports, websites, and data tables the agency uses to distribute the results. This could include more detailed information about data elements where definitions vary substantially from state to state or teacher preparation program to teacher preparation program.
  • The Secretary of Education should develop and implement mechanisms to systematically share information about teacher preparation program quality with relevant Department of Education program offices and states (including state Independent Standards Boards).

On the positive side 37 states provided TPPs with resources to help prepare teachers for new education standards. Many states have also modified licensing exams to reflect new standards.

Read Teacher Preparation Programs: Education Should Ensure States Identify Low-Performing Programs and Improve Information-Sharing, GAO (July 2015).

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Education Policy