Better Teachers, Better Students

Event Proposes Ways to Measure the Effectiveness of Teacher Training Programs

CAP event focuses on how to measure the effectiveness of teacher training programs and then hold those programs accountable.

For more on this event see the event page.

Only three states actively hold teacher preparation programs accountable for the effectiveness of the teachers they produce. Few education schools or alternative accreditation routes keep data on their graduates once they get into the classroom, and states and school districts don’t have good systems for assessing teachers’ instructional skills and effectiveness. As a result, we don’t know which teacher training programs are working and which aren’t, and teacher candidates and their students suffer the consequences.

CAP released a report and hosted an event last week in response to this major flaw in U.S. K-12 education, seeking to address how states can hold teacher preparation programs accountable. The event included a panel discussion featuring “Measuring What Matters” report author Edward Crowe, who served as the inaugural director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Title II Teacher Quality Enhancement Program and is now an independent education consultant.

Crowe’s report calls for a nationwide system of state accountability for teacher training programs that would be organized around the principles of strengthening state accountability for producing effective teachers, defining and measuring a set of clear signals of program quality, empirically monitoring key learning outcomes, and publishing findings about which programs produce effective teachers and which produce ineffective ones.

Speaking prior to the panel’s discussion, Crowe bemoaned that the current system “ignores teaching and learning outcomes.” He called for reforms that will “replace a failed system that few people respect or believe in.” He urged the necessity of having a program that applies evenly to all states and all accreditation programs. Citing the reality that 20 percent of teachers work in a different state than they were trained in, Crowe said “a single set of accountability policies across all states” would bridge the wide gaps in teacher training program accountability between states.

Jane E. West works directly on this issue as the senior vice president for policy, programs, and professional issues at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. West immediately acknowledged a need for stricter accountability for teacher-training programs, saying, “We absolutely need more data on our graduates.”

She drew attention to the importance of applying an accountability program evenly, saying, “the same standards need to apply to all programs,” including universities as well as the kind of intensive, five-week alternative certification programs that Teach for America students go through.

Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, made pointed critiques of the way teachers are currently trained. “We’re spending roughly $7 billion a year on education schools,” she said, even though they don’t always produce effective teachers. She discussed what she sees as the “chaotic nature of education schools,” saying that yardsticks for measuring their effectiveness vary wildly between and within states.

Training effective teachers is no easy task, but we can never hope to achieve this goal if we don’t first hold all teacher training programs accountable. “Training ordinary people to do extraordinary things,” as Jane E. West put it, starts first with strengthening accountability for the programs that train our nation’s teachers.

For more on this event see the event page.

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