Transforming Educator Preparation: Lessons Learned from Leading States

To give some added oomph to excellent teacher preparation, the Council of Chief State School Officers launched the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP) in 2013. Its purpose is to identify states with track records of innovative teacher preparation and support them in their efforts to implement aggressive and lasting improvements. The network’s first cohort included seven states: Connecticut, Idaho, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Washington. In 2015, they were joined by eight more states: California, Delaware, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

A new report examines the progress of those states, mainly in four key areas: stakeholder engagement; licensure reform; preparation program standards, evaluation, and approval; and the use of data to measure success.

In the realm of stakeholder engagement, participating states were required to outline how they would gain the “public and political will to support policy change.” Collaborations between stakeholder groups led several states to recognize the importance of clinical practice for new teachers. For instance, a working group made up of the Louisiana Department of Education, that state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Board of Regents collaborated to create a yearlong classroom residency for new teachers alongside an experienced mentor teacher that is complemented by a competency-based curriculum.

Since states determine their own teacher licensure policies, NTEP focuses on how participating states could ensure that candidates who earn licensure are ready for the rigors of the classroom on their very first day. States have made strides in various ways, including requiring performance-based licensure assessments, setting higher minimum GPA requirements for entry into preparation programs, and requiring programs to extend and improve candidates’ clinical experiences. But difficult challenges remain, including license reciprocity across state lines and establishing effective multi-tiered licensure systems.

Another important reform that NTEP states are pursuing is toughening their approval and reauthorization standards for teacher preparation programs. States like Kentucky made progress in this domain by developing an accountability system that includes information about the selectivity of programs, the performance of candidates on licensure exams, and scores on evaluations of practicing teachers. States also updated the standards used to review and approve programs by transitioning from examining inputs (like faculty qualifications or program resources) to examining how prospective teachers perform while in the program.

As for using data effectively, participating NTEP states recognize the importance of measuring new teachers’ effectiveness. But CCSSO also found that state data systems are woefully underdeveloped, and that in many cases, the quality and relevance of collected data are sorely lacking. NTEP states overcame these obstacles by auditing data that were already being collected in order to ensure that it was shared with other agencies and programs; building and implementing improved data systems; providing data-related training to state and institutional staff; and building data-based rating systems for preparation programs. California, for example, uses its statewide teacher preparation data system to create public dashboards that show how a program’s graduates score on assessments as well as the results of district surveys about newly hired teachers’ performance.   

Finally, although NTEP focused on state policy, several higher education institutions within states made significant changes in order to transform the way they prepare their candidates. Clemson University, for example, plans to offer a combined bachelor’s-master’s degree path with an embedded teacher residency program. Similarly, Missouri State University’s College of Education created an internship program that replaced the traditional twelve weeks of student teaching with a yearlong co-teaching model.

For states that are interested in making advancements with their teacher preparation programs and policies, this report serves as a good jumping off point.

SOURCE: “Transforming Educator Preparation: Lessons Learned from Leading States,” The Council of Chief State School Officers (September 2017). 

Jessica Poiner
Jessica Poiner is an education policy analyst in the Fordham Institute’s Columbus office. She was a 2011 Teach For America corps member who worked and taught in Shelby County Schools and the Achievement School District.