But the law does not specify how that impact is measured.
Many groups are becoming increasingly concerned about whether it’s possible for programs to demonstrate such impacts from their graduates. Policymakers, including officials in Florida, have turned to student test scores as a means of evidence. But for now, test scores only capture a small fraction of the teachers trained in education schools – although Florida is moving toward end-of-course assessments for all grade levels and subject areas. There are also concerns about the reliability of using standardized tests as a gauge of teacher effectiveness.
Even so, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation has released a set of contentious new standards, under which programs would have to prove that their graduates were able to raise student test scores. The U.S. Department of Education is working on new requirements for teacher preparation programs to increase accountability based in part on “student learning outcomes.”
In 2009, Florida began releasing rankings of education schools based on what percentage of a teacher’s students passed the state standardized tests. The state, which promised to improve education school accountability in its Race to the Top grant, has since stopped publishing the results in anticipation of the state’s new teacher evaluation process, which will use student test scores in its teacher ratings. Instead Florida is developing a new rating system for education schools that covers six areas, including student achievement, graduate employment and retention.
The new system won’t differ much from how the state currently oversees teacher preparation. As is now the case, programs that are denied state approval under the new ratings will be given time to improve. But even if they fail to do so, programs will not be shut down. The only consequence will be that the transcripts of the program’s graduates cannot say they completed a state-approved program.
This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet affiliated with Teachers College, Columbia University, in partnership with StateImpact Florida.