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May 2014, Vol. 8, No. 1, Pp. 86-110 ISSN: 1937-3929
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10

A New Approach to Educator Preparation Evaluation:

Evidence for Continuous Improvement?

Corinne Baron Donovan

Jane E. Ashdown
Anne M. Mungai
Adelphi University

Abstract

The landscape for educator preparation has shifted to accountability models emphasizing
performance assessment of teaching, employer feedback reports, newly approved accreditation
standards showing impact on K-12 student learning, and expectations of public access to all of
this information. This article provides a perspective on the extent to which this change offers
promise for improving educator preparation programs and consequently excellence in teaching in
K-12 schools. Two accountability reports are used as the empirical evidence for review; one is a
pilot institutional feedback report from the Teacher Quality Research Center (Boyd, Lankford, &
Wyckoff, 2009) and the second is a new Teacher Preparation Program report prepared by New
York City’s department of education (NYCDOE, 2013a). Ultimately, a systems perspective is
recommended, in which candidates, IHEs, and K-12 schools are involved in the process of how
educator preparation is evaluated and how that connects to other aspects of the education
profession.

Historically, educator preparation evaluation models have relied on state
approval of programs, pass rates on licensure exams, and meeting accreditation
standards that privileged operational and descriptive data as a basis for evaluating
program quality. That landscape has shifted in educator preparation to accountability
models emphasizing performance assessment of teaching practice, employer feedback
reports that include growth scores for program graduates based on their students’
standardized test scores, newly approved accreditation standards that require evidence
of positive impact on K-12 student learning, and expectations of public access to all of
this information. This article provides a critical perspective on the extent to which this
changing accountability landscape offers promise for improving educator preparation
programs and consequently for driving excellence in teaching and learning in K-12
schools as evidence of continuous improvement.

The empirical basis for this article is two reports that establish data linkages
between the graduates of one Institution of Higher Education’s (IHE) educator
preparation program and the school systems where those graduates have been

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teaching. The first report is a pilot institutional feedback report from the Teacher Quality
Research Center (TQRC; Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009) and the second report is a
newly released Teacher Preparation Program report (2013) from the New York City
Department of Education (NYCDOE). The overall purpose of the TQRC report is to
provide schools and colleges of education in New York State (NYS) with information
about where graduates from their teacher education programs are in the teaching
profession NYS schools; the purpose of the NYCDOE report is to provide education
programs at local colleges and universities (N=12) with a snapshot of their graduates’
contributions to the NYCDOE schools after leaving their teacher preparation programs.

Purpose

The assumption behind the reports (Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009; NYCDOE,
2013a) and findings presented here is that for schools of education to improve and
produce more effective educators, they need to know what happens when graduates
finish their programs and become teachers in the classroom. To examine this
assumption in the context of the changing nature of teacher education program
accountability, we review the following questions. First, we consider the evidence from
a program improvement perspective and try to answer the questions: Which features of
teacher education programs do the findings from these reports help inform (e.g.,
sequence and content of academic course work, full or part-time program design, area
of preparation)? Will the findings from accountability reports lead to change and
enhance the effectiveness of teacher education programs?

The next question to consider is how the findings from these reports impact
clinical practice and the school partnerships essential to educator preparation.
Educator preparation is not a stand-alone endeavor, but rather requires cooperation
from skilled teachers and administrators in the current K-12 school system. We want to
know how information about our graduates arising from these reports impacts decisions
about school partnerships and clinical experiences which includes the placement of
teacher candidates in classrooms, the selection of teacher mentors, the selection of
supervisors, the nature of the supervision, and the impact of candidates’ teaching on
student learning.

Finally, we consider to what extent the data included in these reports (Boyd,
Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009; NYCDOE, 2013a) are relevant and actionable from an
educator preparation policy perspective. The policy intent of the shift toward
accountability models is to drive reform in teacher education by making clear
distinctions between teacher preparation programs (U.S. Department of Education,
2011). Therefore, do the findings from these reports provide relevant and actionable
information with regard to policy decisions, for example about admissions’ standards
and selection policies for entry into an educator preparation program? Only when
information is relevant to the public and the parties involved (e.g., educator preparation
programs, participants in these programs, K-12 schools who hire graduates from
educator preparation programs, regulatory bodies such as state education departments,

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policy makers, taxpayers) does it provide clarity for policy changes and actions needed
for teacher education program improvements.

After analyzing data in these reports and addressing this set of questions, we
conclude by recommending a systems perspective on accountability in teacher
education (Boulding, 1956; Katz & Kahn, 1966; Parsons, 1951). Systems theory, in this
respect, considers individuals and organizations as part of a larger open system, where
the environment and all parts of the system have an impact on the survival and success
of the system. Early theorists in organizational theory and social sciences sought a new
and common paradigm that would allow researchers across multiple disciplines to
access common terminology (Hillon, 2005). Much of this work is grounded in biological
sciences, considering such concepts as energy to sustain a system, homeostasis,
entropy, and system cycles (Katz & Kahn, 1966). Parsons (1951) pointed out the
defining feature that holds a system together is the integrated values or norms which
drive the system. In the current study, we consider educator preparation the system
under review and analysis.

The Research Context

Teacher education is under immense pressure to change and improve, pressure
driven in large part by the poor performance of P-12 students in the nation’s public
schools especially when compared to international student achievement outcomes
based on recent data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development Progress on International Student Achievement (OECD, 2010). This
concern is accompanied by a persistent failure to adequately address the widening
achievement gap among diverse student groups (Wiseman, 2012).

Historically, research studies show that teacher quality varies and that variation
in quality is associated with both student success and with compounding disadvantages
for low achieving students (Goldhaber & Anthony, 2004; Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff,
2002). This variability has put a spotlight on impact and outcomes in teacher education
and has resulted in a paradigm shift away from measuring teacher quality and toward
measuring teacher effectiveness (Darling-Hammond, 2000) with the achievement test
score gains of students a key component. In turn, teacher education programs are
increasingly being held accountable for their graduates’ impact on student learning as
measured in some instances by the use of value-added measures.

Longitudinal databases and the accompanying capacity to track the impact of
education program graduates on student learning have been lacking in many states;
however, increasing numbers of states are now able to or are committed to doing this
(Henry, Kershaw, Zulli, & Smith, 2012). This development is in part leveraged by
federal and state stimulus funding and through accountability requirements associated
with Race to the Top (RttT) grant awards that require grant recipients to build
comprehensive tracking databases and to recruit and retain effective teachers
especially in high needs schools and fields (U.S. Department of Education, 2014).

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Henry et al. (2012) provided a snapshot of 12 state’s RttT proposals with regard to the
assessment of teacher preparation programs. Their analysis draws attention to the
challenges states face in establishing a “true effect” of a preparation program on student
test scores (p. 350). The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that
41 states along with Washington, DC have each received at least one grant for the
development of statewide longitudinal data systems providing evidence of this
increasing trend toward tracking and linking data (NCES, 2012).

Gansle, Noell, and Burns (2012) provided findings based on one year’s analysis
from Louisiana’s implementation of a Teacher Preparation Accountability System for
evaluating the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs. This was one of the
earliest accountability systems to incorporate multiple data points, involve the redesign
of university-based teacher education programs, and incorporate an evaluation of new
teachers’ performance based on their students’ achievement on standardized tests.
Using hierarchical linear modeling with data from this comprehensive tracking database,
the authors estimate the degree to which the students of new teachers from different
types of teacher preparation programs achieved more or less than predicted outcomes
in key content areas on state achievement tests. Results showed variation in
achievement gains between students taught by teachers from different educator
preparation programs; however, the authors caution that particular results for an
institution do not explain why those results occurred. The teacher preparation program
is then left with the challenge of unpacking the data and developing hypotheses about
which variables are driving particular outcomes.

Plecki, Elfers, and Nakamura (2012) also examined the extent to which value
added measures are a useable source of evidence for improving teacher education
programs. The authors used fifth grade teachers’ value added scores to investigate
whether student achievement varies by teachers’ preparation program (in-state versus
out-of-state programs) and by years of teaching experience. Although the relation
between years of experience and teacher value added scores was significant, outcomes
in terms of the relation of value added scores to teacher preparation programs were
mixed. The authors concluded with important recommendations about the need for
cooperation among multiple stakeholders with regard to accountability, a
recommendation that is also considered in relation to this investigation.

The Data Bases

The reports (Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009; NYCDOE, 2013a) referenced as
an empirical basis for this article, reflected a trend in longitudinal database development
and represent distinct moments in the history of educator preparation program
accountability. The TQRC report is the outcome of a pilot study funded through a
partnership between an institution of higher education, a state education department,
and a philanthropic foundation. The context for this initiative was twofold. Firstly, in
2001, the Carnegie Corporation launched a major reform initiative in teacher
preparation called Teachers for a New Era (TNE; Carnegie Corporation of New York,

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2001) and offered grant awards to institutions of higher education to implement reforms.
These awards were given to selected institutions of higher education (N=11) who were
committed to partnerships between their education and arts and sciences programs in
the preparation of teachers and also committed to measuring the impact of their
education programs in terms of evidence of student learning. This required education
programs to rethink their assessment systems with a focus on collecting persuasive
evidence of impact on student learning (Fallon, 2006; Kirby, McCombs, Naftel, &
Barney, 2005). Secondly, a study of urban public school teachers was undertaken a
few years later and examined the effects on student learning of different features of
teacher preparation programs (Boyd, Grossman, Lankford, Loeb, & Wykoff, 2009). This
study was funded through a partnership between an institution of higher education and
several philanthropic organizations and was one of the first studies to use value added
modeling to estimate the effects of different teacher education program features in
relation to beginning teacher effectiveness. One finding of interest was that preparation
programs providing more oversight of student teaching supplied more effective first year
teachers to schools.

Both the TNE (Carnegie Corporation of New York, 2001) initiative and the study
of urban teachers (Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009) described above placed
substantial emphasis on the collection and analysis of evidence about the impact that
teacher education candidates and graduates have on student learning as a critical
indicator of program effectiveness. The TQRC report under discussion here represents
a continuation of that effort to engage more systematically in linking information about
K-12 schools and students with graduates of teacher education programs. The Teacher
Quality Research Center was housed on the campus of the New York state university
system and the TQRC reports were developed through a consultative process with the
teacher education community reflected in membership of an advisory group established
to provide feedback on report design; one author was a member of that advisory group.
The reports were prepared for each approved teacher education program provider in
New York State (NYS; N=100), and for the first time provided institutions of higher
education with comparative information as well as aggregate measures of student
learning. The reports were not publicly available and this was a one-time endeavor as
funding was not forthcoming to support multi-year reporting.

The second report discussed here was prepared by a local education authority
(LEA), the NYCDOE (2013a), for the IHE of interest. Similar individual reports have
also been developed for 11 other IHEs supplying teachers to the NYCDOE public
schools as well as a report comparing all 12 IHEs on the selected metrics. All reports
are publicly available at http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/DHR/HumanCapitalData/TPPR.
This reporting strategy reflects the increasing capacities of LEAs and state education
authorities to collect data and use it to report on variables of interest (Henry et al.,
2012). This strategy aligns with current federal education policy exemplified in RttT
competitive funding awards to state education departments requiring that teachers be
evaluated based on the achievement gains of K-12 students. Similarly, the public

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availability of this set of reports aligns with current expectations for transparency in
teacher, principal, school, and teacher education accountability.

Table 1 provides a summary comparison of the distinctive design features of
each of the reports (Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009; NYCDOE, 2013a) used as the
data base to address the research questions. The two reports were produced within a
relatively short timeframe, yet it is worth noting the differences in features of access and
transparency between them. While the reports share a common purpose, differences in
their design reflect the rapidly changing landscape of educator preparation program
accountability.

Table 1
Summary Comparison of Educator Preparation Program Accountability Reports

Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009
(University based initiative)

NYCDOE 2013a
(Local Education Authority
initiative)

Consultation Advisory group representing IHEs
reviewed drafts with study authors

Pre-publication draft shared by
LEA with each IHE for
feedback

Transparency All IHEs remained anonymous All IHEs identified by name

Purpose To help teacher preparation

institutions in program planning,
assessment, and program
improvement

To help colleges and
universities assess and refine
their teacher preparation
programs

Access Password protected, zip file in Excel Available on LEA website in
PDF format

Impact on student
learning

Uses K-12 school level 4 & 8 grade
test scores as a measure of
graduates’ impact on student
learning

Uses individual teacher growth
scores based on 4-8 grade
student test scores aggregated
for each IHE’s graduates

Publicity None LEA press release and press
coverage

Length of report 19 tables 6 tables

In question is whether the right variables are being examined and whether the
resulting findings are causally robust and can be used to make significant improvements
in teacher education programs (Clotfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2010; Donovan, Ashdown, &

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Mungai, 2013). We now consider some of the challenges in using the findings from the
TQRC pilot study (Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009) and the NYCDOE Teacher
Preparation Program report (NYCDOE, 2013a) for teacher education program
improvement purposes in one IHE of interest located in NYS.

Data Analyses by Report

The TQRC report (Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009) integrated data across six
sources of information about cohorts of teachers (referred to as program completers) in
NYS who completed their educator preparation between 2000 and 2005 and allows
tracking of early teaching careers through the 2006-2007 school year. The Teacher
Preparation Program Report created by the NYCDOE (2013a) analyzes the
performance of 12 teacher education programs that supplied the most teachers to New
York City’s public school system from 2008 to 2012. The report is the nation’s first
district-level teacher preparation report to analyze the quality, distribution, and retention
of new teachers hired from traditional college and university teacher education
programs.

TQRC report. Data from six different information sources were integrated to
complete a TQRC report for each IHE as follows:

1. A Personnel Master File includes information on the schools where the
program completers teach in the NYS public system.

2. The Exam History File includes NYS certification exam scores.
3. The TEACH file lists teaching certificates awarded by NYS.
4. The Program Completers File includes information about each individual

recommended for teacher certification by a NYS approved preparation
program.

5. Elementary and Secondary School data file includes demographic information
about school populations and accountability status (in terms of need for
improvement).

6. The College Board File, which includes SAT math and verbal scores for all
program completers who took the SAT in NYS between 1980 and 2000, as
well as high schools attended.

The report includes summary data for three comparison groups: a sector
grouping (Public or Independent IHEs), a regional grouping based on an IHE’s
geographic proximity, and a statewide comparison. For purposes of this article, we limit
the data presented to the IHE of interest and the statewide comparison.

Ultimately, the report (Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009) included 19 tables of
information such as demographics (age, gender, ethnicity), results for program
completers on the NYS Teacher Certification Exams and NYS Awarded Certifications,
initial employment of program completers (general information; percentages by subject,

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grade level, and type of school; and demographic attributes of the K-12 schools where
program completers taught), K-12 educational outcomes in NYS public schools where
program completers initially taught, location of K-12 schools, and retention data.
Results are shared here on variables of interest to teacher education leaders at the IHE
of interest as a basis for meeting accreditation standards in the areas of assessment
(including employer feedback and evidence of student learning), for implementation of
the IHE’s conceptual framework, and for overall continuous improvement purposes.

The total number of program completers with enough data available for analysis
across the six data sources in the report for NYS was 56,000, and the total for the IHE
of interest was 2,559. This is about half of the total number of program completers who
graduated from the IHE in that timeframe. The report authors explain that data were
missing due to incomplete information or errors in the files (e.g., names and
identification codes could not be matched across files).

TQRC results. Table 2 provides demographic information for the IHE of interest
compared to the NYS total for the 2000-2005 cohort used for analysis.
Demographically, the IHE of interest has program completers who are slightly younger
than program completers across NYS; about 24% of IHE of interest program completers
are younger than 25, compared to the state average of 13%. The IHE of interest has
slightly more female program completers (85% female) compared to the state rate of
75%. The IHE of interest has slightly higher rates of program completers who are
Hispanic (6.5%) compared to the state average of 5.8% and White (70.5%) compared to
66.5%. The IHE of interest also has a higher rate of program completers who are
recommended for initial or provisional certification (78%) compared to the statewide
average of 63%.

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Table 2
Demographics of Program Completers, 2000-2005 Cohorts, IHE vs. NYS
N IHE Statewide-NYS
Age
< 25 612 23.9% 13.2% 25-30 1,012 39.6% 46.8% 31+ 934 36.5% 39.9% Total 2,558 100.0% 100.0% Gender Female 2,165 84.6% 75.4% Male 352 13.8% 19.0% Unreported 42 1.6% 5.6% Total 2,559 100.0% 100.0% Ethnicity

White 1,803 70.5% 66.5%
Black 155 6.1% 6.6%
Hispanic 166 6.5% 5.8%
Other 57 2.2% 2.9%
Unreported 378 14.8% 18.1%
Total 2,559 100.0% 100.0%

The report includes general counts and percentages by subject taught for the first

year of teaching in NYS public schools (Table 3). The IHE of interest, for example, has
a slightly higher percentage of program completers who teach at the elementary level
(35%) compared to the percentage of elementary program completers across NYS
(33%). The IHE of interest has the same percentage of program completers who teach
math at the state level (5.3%) but slightly lower percentages of program completers in
English and social studies. The IHE of interest has a slightly higher percentage of
program completers in special education (18.7%) compared to the NYS percentage
(16.7%) and a higher percentage of other teaching areas (25.4%) compared to the NYS
percentage (18.3%), which includes subjects such as physical education and health.

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Table 3

Subjects Taught in First Year of Teaching in NYS Public Schools 2000-2005 Cohorts, IHE
vs. NYS
Subject Area IHE FTE IHE % NYS %
Elementary 233.1 35.0% 32.7%
Literacy 17.9 2.7% 3.5%
Special Education 124.6 18.7% 16.7%
English 42.8 6.4% 8.0%
Mathematics 35.5 5.3% 5.3%
Science 14.9 2.2% 8.0%
Social Studies 27.4 4.1% 7.4%
Other Teaching 169.1 25.4% 18.3%
Total 665.2 100.0% 100.0%

When examining the data for program completers teaching in high needs
schools, the IHE of interest has a higher percentage of program completers working in
schools with the poorest students (see Figure 1). For example, when program
completers across the state are rank ordered by the percentage of K-12 students
eligible for free or reduced price lunch (FRL), the top 25% of IHE program completers
are in schools with 71% or more K-12 students receiving free or reduced price lunch
compared to the top 25% of NYS program completers who are in schools with 63% of
K-12 students receiving free or reduced price lunch. Similarly, the IHE of interest has a
higher percentage of program completers who teach in schools with Black and Hispanic
students (see Figure 2). For example, when program completers across the state are
ranked by number of K-12 students who are Black or Hispanic, the top quarter of
program completers from the IHE of interest and across the state are in K-12 schools
with 79% or more Black or Hispanic students (IHE) compared to 63% or more Black or
Hispanic students (NYS).

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Figure 1. Rank ordering of program completers by the percentage of their K-12 school’s
students on free and reduced price lunch status.

Figure 2. Rank ordering of program completers by their K-12 schools’ percentage of Black or
Hispanic students.

4

36

71

6
36

63

0 20 40 60 80

Bottom 25% FRL

50% FRL

Top 25% FRL

Percentage of K-12 School Students Who Qualified for Free
or Reduced Price Lunch

R
a
n

k
O

rd
e
r

o
f

P
ro

g
ra

m

C
o
m

p
le

te
rs

NYS

IHE

10

43

79

5

39

70

0 25 50 75 100

Bottom 25% K-12 Black/Hispanic

50% K-12 Black/Hispanic

Top 25% K-12 Black/Hispanic

Percentage of K-12 School Student Body who are Black or
Hispanic

R
a
n
k
O
rd
e
r
o
f
P
ro
g
ra
m

C
o
m
p
le
te
rs

NYS
IHE

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Retention is presented in the report relative to initial employment in NYS public
schools (Table 4). The data reveal that roughly 81% of teachers statewide and at the
IHE of interest are still teaching in the NYS public school system three years after initial
employment. However, these data must be interpreted with caution, since the number
of program completers that are tracked after three years declines by roughly 50% (407
compared to 824) from the number tracked at initial employment. This is the same
attrition rate for both the IHE of interest and IHEs statewide. It is difficult to interpret the
81% rate without further context and details about the dataset.

Table 4
Teacher Transfers and Attrition Relative to Initial Employment in NYS Public Schools,
IHE vs. NYS

Initial

Employment
1 Year
Later

3 Years
Later

IHE
Number of Program Completers 824 769 407
Still Teaching in NYS Public School System 90.2% 81.3%
Teaching in Same District 80.9% 73.2%
Teaching in Same School and District 73.0% 71.3%

NYS
Number of Program Completers 16,740 15,533 8,565
Still Teaching in NYS Public School System 88.8% 81.2%
Teaching in Same District 79.0% 75.3%
Teaching in Same School and District 72.6% 71.4%

One of the more interesting tables in the report includes Educational Outcomes
data for students in NYS public schools where program completers initially teach (Table
5). Outcomes data are reported for students in grades 4 and 8 on math and English
Language Arts (ELA) tests, as well as English and math Regents exams (NYS high
school proficiency exams by subject). Outcomes on the grade 4 tests indicate that
program completers of the IHE of interest teach in schools where the students have
slightly higher rates of proficiency compared overall to IHEs across the state. In 4th
grade math, the IHE of interest has 80% of students proficient compared to 78% for
NYS. In ELA, the IHE of interest has 70% of students proficient compared to 66% for
NYS. This trend continues on the grade 8 exams with approximately a 6-point
difference. Program completers from the IHE of interest have students with higher
percentages performing at the proficient level compared to the state overall. In 8th
grade math, the IHE of interest has 61% of students proficient compared to 55% for
NYS. In ELA, the IHE of interest has 56% of students proficient compared to 50% for
NYS.

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The data shown in this report are difficult to interpret with regard to K-12 student
achievement since outcomes are presented at a group level. In other words, K-12
student achievement is calculated and reported across an entire grade level for a school
where program completers from the IHE of interest teach, and each program completer
may be one of several teachers providing instruction at the 4th or 8th grade level.

Table 5
Educational Outcomes of Students in NYS Public Schools Where Program Completers Initially
Taught, IHE vs. NYS

Percentage of Student Proficiency
Outcomes by Grade

IHE NYS
Percentage

Points
Difference

Grade 4 Math Exam 80.1% 77.8% +2
Grade 4 ELA Exam 70.2% 66.0% +2
Grade 8 Math Exam 61.3% 55.2% +4
Grade 8 ELA Exam 55.8% 49.5% +6
Students Scoring ≥ 65 on English Regents 90.2% 90.0%
Students Scoring ≥ 65 on Math Regents 85.8% 85.2% —

As a summary of the TQRC pilot study (2009) results, the IHE of interest has

program completers who teach at the elementary level at roughly the same rate as
program completers across the state. Program completers from the IHE teach at K-12
public schools that have a greater percentage of students receiving free or reduced
price lunch and students who are Black or Hispanic. The K-12 schools with teachers
from the IHE show a greater number of students scoring proficiently on the 4th and 8th
grade math and ELA exams. Finally, program completers from the IHE persist in the
public school system at the same rate as program completers across the state.

NYCDOE teacher preparation program report. The NYCDOE Teacher
Preparation Program Report (2013a) not only provides an analysis of graduates from
the teacher education programs at the IHE of interest, but also analyzes in separate
reports the performance of 11 other IHE teacher education programs that supplied the
most educators to the NYCDOE city public school system from 2008-2012 (NYCDOE,
2013b).

All reports are publicly available, and thus, comparative data across teacher
education programs can be accessed. In the time frame covered by the report, over
10,000 new teachers were hired by the NYCDOE (N = 10,135) from traditional
pathways (e.g., graduated from college and university education programs) with 51.6%
(N = 5,229) of new hires graduating from the 12 schools included in the reports. The
reports provide analysis of the quality, distribution, and retention of new teachers and
focuses on promoting awareness and cultivating productive partnerships between local
schools of education and the NYCDOE. Specifically, the reports aim to evaluate the
education programs’ contributions toward preparing teachers to meet the diverse

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recruiting needs of the NYCDOE. The reports describe the hiring and retention of
effective teachers as being inextricably tied to partnerships between the NYCDOE and
local schools of education as the certifying institutions.

The reports provide metrics in three areas: (1) Meeting the Needs of the
NYCDOE, (2) Performance, and (3) Retention. There are a total of 6 measures across
these three areas. Representatives from the NYCDOE met with each educator
preparation program to review a draft of the report, and there are plans for continued
collaboration around the reports and their uses.

NYCDOE teacher preparation program results. In evaluating contributions to
meeting the staffing needs of the NYCDOE, two personnel metrics are presented:
Highest Needs Schools and Subject Shortage Licenses. The first metric shows the
percentage of new teachers hired into the Highest Needs Schools across the city. This
includes all schools designated for special education, as well as schools from the top
25% of need as measured by a prior year progress report using a peer index developed
by the NYCDOE. Overall, across the NYCDOE, 30% of the 10,135 teachers were hired
into highest needs schools, with a range from 16% to 48% hired into highest need
schools across the 12 IHEs; the IHE of interest has 24% of program completers hired
into highest needs schools out of a total of 264 hired from the IHE across the four years.
The second metric presents the number of teachers hired by highest need license area
which includes teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL), Math, Science,
Special Education, and Other (bilingual and other foreign language certification areas).
The NYCDOE hired 69% of new teachers over the past four years into one of the
highest need license areas. Across all 12 IHEs from 55% to 92% of graduates’ hired
held licenses in these areas; the IHE of interest has the third highest rate with 75%
hired in highest need areas out of 175 completers hired from 2009 to 2011.

Three metrics are used to assess performance of the recently hired NYCDOE

teachers: Tenure Decision, Unsatisfactory Ratings at year one performance reviews,
and Growth Scores. The tenure findings identify the percentage of teachers who
achieve three different ratings: approved, extended, or denied. Results in the report
only include the first tenure decision point for teachers hired by October 31 in each of
three academic years 2008-2009, 2009-2010, and 2010-2011. The mean percent of
NYCDOE teachers approved at the first tenure decision point is 60% and ranges from
51% to 67% across the 12 IHEs. The IHE of interest has the highest percentage of
approval at the first decision point with 67% approved out of 150 hired from 2008
through 2010. The second metric reports the percent of teachers rated Unsatisfactory
in their first year of teaching for those hired in each of four academic years from 2008-
2009 through 2011-2012. The NYCDOE average rating of first year teachers receiving
an Unsatisfactory is 3.1% across the four years and ranges from .7% to 4.8% across
the 12 IHEs. The IHE of interest has 2.3% of its 264 alumni rated Unsatisfactory in their
first year teaching.

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The third metric used to assess performance is the 2011-2012 Growth Score.
For the NYCDOE report (2013a), this score is only calculated for those teaching 4th and
8th grade math and English Language Arts (ELA) during the academic year 2011-2012.
The Education Department growth scores are calculated using 4th and 8th grade student
scores on state exams in math and ELA. Scores are only calculated for students who
have two consecutive years of test data on record and are determined by a statistical
model that rates students’ growth in each content area relative to other similar students.
This growth calculation, therefore, is designed to assess relative student growth and not
achievement, which prevents teachers from being penalized for students who are not
performing at grade level. Growth scores for individual teachers are then calculated by
taking the average of student growth percentiles taught by each teacher.

There are four rating levels on the growth score model: Ineffective, Developing,
Effective, and Highly Effective. Using only growth scores for 4th and 8th grade math and
ELA teachers leaves a limited group of students and teachers being assessed (N =
1,466) relative to the total number of teachers hired (N = 10,135). The report notes that
results should be interpreted with caution. The NYCDOE overall reports 82% of
teachers are rated in the top two categories: Effective (75%) or Highly Effective (7%).
This same rating ranges from 61% to 91% across the 12 IHEs. The IHE of interest has
80% of its 41 math and ELA teachers rated in the top two categories (68% Effective,
12% Highly Effective) based on the growth scores, an overall percentage slightly below
the average for the NYCDOE, although it has a higher percentage of graduates rated
highly effective compared to the NYCDOE. At the same time, 12% of the teachers from
the IHE of interest were rated as Ineffective compared to 6% of the overall NYCDOE
teachers; the percentage with ineffective ratings vary between 2% and 14% across the
12 IHEs.

The final metric presented in the NYCDOE report is the retention of teachers
after three years of teaching, and therefore includes only those hired by October 31 for
2008-2009 and 2009-2010. The NYCDOE three year retention rate is 80% and across
the 12 IHEs ranges from 72% to 94%. The IHE of interest has a retention rate of 83%
for its 131 program graduates.

As a summary of the NYCDOE report, graduates from the IHE of interest are
teaching in highest need schools at slightly lower rates than for newly hired teachers in
the NYCDOE, but a greater percentage of hires are in the highest need subject fields
compared to the NYCDOE teachers overall. Graduates from the IHE of interest are
retained at about the same rate as the NYCDOE newly hired teachers, are pacing
slightly ahead of newly hired NYCDOE teachers overall in first time approved tenure
decisions, and are less likely to receive an unsatisfactory rating than NYCDOE
teachers. Their ratings in terms of student growth scores pace ahead on highly
effective ratings compared to the NYCDOE teachers, but there is a higher percentage of
ineffective teachers from the IHE of interest compared to the NYCDOE.

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Discussion and Implications

Implications and limitations of the reports are considered for both the IHE of
interest and for other IHEs facing the implementation of new evaluation systems for
their educator preparation programs.

Implications of the Reports Beyond the Local Context

The results of the reports presented here reference IHEs in one geographic
region of the country. However, for IHEs in states that have not yet implemented an
educator preparation evaluation system or are facing newly implemented evaluation
systems, this particular set of reports is illustrative of both what to expect in terms of
increasingly sophisticated measures available for accountability purposes and in terms
of the limitations of these newly developing systems.

Of most significance in comparing these reports in terms of measures of impact
on student learning is that the earlier TQRC report (2009) uses group level K-12 test
scores as one measure of program completers’ impact on students’ learning in 4th and
8th grade. The NYCDOE report (2013a), on the other hand, uses more advanced
teacher impact measures now available, such as teacher growth scores. The shift to
this advanced analytical capability allows analysis at the individual teacher level rather
than at the group level as the latter approach confounds inferences of teacher
effectiveness. While the more sophisticated growth score results are only available for
math and ELA teachers at this point, the advanced capability to look at individual
teachers facilitates more accurate ratings of individual teachers on their own merit,
although these methods remain controversial among researchers and educators alike.
For example, Henry et al. (2012) caution about generalizing from state teacher
preparation program reports given the challenges of obtaining unbiased estimates of
programs’ impact on student learning.

More broadly for those IHEs in other states facing newly implemented program
evaluation, the TQRC report (2009) reflects a challenge facing many longitudinal data
systems, that of following consistent cohorts of teachers across time and geography.
As noted in the TQRC report, 50% of the teachers initially tracked into their first
teaching position were not in the database three years later. Without inter-state
education agency cooperation, it is not clear whether these individuals left the
profession, relocated to another school system within the state (e.g., parochial, private,
or charter), or simply relocated to another part of the country. An additional complexity
is pointed out by Plecki et al. (2012) whose analysis of teacher preparation programs in
Washington state related to value added measures revealed a significant, positive
relationship between teacher experience and value added scores. The positive
relationship did not change in magnitude or significance even after accounting for
differences in gender, education level, or race/ethnicity. Novice teachers, with less than
three years of experiences, had a lower value-added measure by more than one point
each for reading and math. Therefore, if a 50% teacher attrition rate is a reasonable

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estimate three years after initial employment and if, as Plecki et al. suggest, less than
three years into a job teachers have lower value-added measures, it is critical to ask if
these new evaluations of preparation programs are looking at the most accurate
evidence to measure program effectiveness.

Finally, the ability to link data across multiple systems and take into account
various individual factors in order to calculate student and teacher growth scores
requires careful and time-consuming work which must be supported by adequate
resources. The TQRC (2009) reports were only available for one year due to a lack of
further funding. The report results served as a baseline of educator preparation
program performance, but without further reports the findings are of limited value from a
program improvement perspective. The NYCDOE report (2013a) was produced under
LEA leadership that is no longer in place. There is some uncertainty about how the new
LEA leadership will act with regard to the development of future reports. It is
encouraging from one perspective that this level of evaluation is being promoted;
however, the return on investment is not obvious as the extent to which the findings
from either of these reports can lead to change and improvement in the effectiveness of
teacher education programs is not well established.

Implications for Program Improvement

As we consider the first set of questions posed for these report findings (TQRC,
2009; NYCDOE, 2013a) and examine the evidence from a program improvement
perspective, it is difficult to determine which educator preparation program features are
implicated by the findings from these reports. For example, the IHE of interest has a
higher percent of graduates rated as ineffective compared to NYCDOE teachers overall
based on growth scores and a slightly lower percent of graduates rated as
unsatisfactory in their first year compared to the DOE teachers overall (NYCDOE,
2013a). A logical program improvement goal for the IHE of interest in the service of
producing more effective teachers is to identify program changes that would eliminate
the likelihood of any graduates being rated unsatisfactory in their first year teaching and
to eliminate the number of teachers rated as ineffective based on student achievement
gains. The logical question then is which features of teacher education programs do
these findings point to in terms of change? The unsatisfactory rating is based on
classroom teaching observations conducted by a building leader, but without more
proximal information about the evaluation rubrics used, identifying program changes
would only be speculative. The ineffectiveness ratings based on growth scores are for
math and ELA teachers only. One possible area for consideration for program
improvement is the teaching methods courses (math and language arts) that graduates
complete during their preparation program. Another possible action step is to compare
educator preparation program features at the IHE of interest with program features at
IHEs in the NYCDOE sample with the fewest teachers rated as unsatisfactory and
ineffective. It is not clear, however, for either of these possible actions, which features
of course work or program designs should be studied and changed in order to achieve
the goals identified above.

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Results from both reports provide some findings for the IHE of interest that reflect
positively on the institutions’ mission and core values of social justice and inclusive
community. Graduates from the IHE of interest were reported as teaching in highest
need schools, in highest need subject fields (e.g., special education), and in schools
with greater percentages of children receiving free or reduced price lunch at similar or
greater rates than comparative graduates. This appears to provide some confirmation
that graduates are reflecting the institution’s core values in their career trajectories (e.g.,
Inclusive Community and Social Justice are two of the core values).

The more recent NYCDOE report (2013a), however, shows that over the past
four years, when compared to the DOE overall, a smaller percentage of graduates from
the IHE of interest have been hired into highest need schools in the city. Across all 12
IHEs, the range is from 16% to 48% of graduates hired into highest need schools,
suggesting that for the IHE of interest there is still room for improvement. An
appropriate goal, therefore, might be to at least match the NYCDOE percent hired into
highest need schools overall. Of note, the IHE with the biggest percentage of graduates
teaching in highest needs schools is itself geographically located in the vicinity of high
needs schools. It is well established that teachers typically work close to home and to
where they attend school. For the IHE of interest, which has its main campus in a
suburban neighborhood, to improve on the percent of graduates teaching in highest
need schools would require strategizing about ways to counter this employment trend
among teachers.

Implications for Clinical Practice and School Partnerships

It is difficult to determine what the implications are for the design and
implementation of clinical experiences and for school partnerships from the reports
(Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009; NYCDOE, 2013a). The IHE of interest has two
distinct tracks for clinical experiences both of which comply with state regulations, but
one of which goes far beyond state requirements and involves a yearlong immersion in
the K-12 school environment. The question of whether graduates who participate in this
immersion track are more likely to be retained in teaching arises. Similar questions
surround how the quality of supervision and mentoring and the characteristics of the
student teaching placements associated with the IHE of interest might shed light on the
outcomes for graduates who receive unsatisfactory ratings or who are ineffective or
conversely highly effective in terms of student growth scores.

In the absence of a roster tracking individual graduates from either report (Boyd,
Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009; NYCDOE, 2013a), it is difficult to know what aspects of
clinical practice would benefit from change and improvement. As noted earlier, teacher
preparation is not a standalone endeavor, and it would be reasonable to assume, for
example, that graduates from the IHE of interest teaching in the NYCDOE might well
have undertaken clinical experiences in the NYCDOE public school system. Further
then, might it be reasonable to assume that the effectiveness of graduates from the IHE
of interest in part reflects the quality of those K-12 clinical placements? If so, actions to

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improve educator preparation programs and the effectiveness of their graduates do not
rest with IHEs alone. A systems analysis is required to provide greater clarity in
understanding which type or types of field experiences help prepare teacher candidates
most effectively as they begin their teaching careers (Katz & Kahn, 1966; Parsons,
1951).

Whether considering changes to academic programs for educator preparation or
changes to the design of clinical experiences, timing plays an important role in deciding
when and how changes are made. For the TQRC report (2009), three-year retention
data were not available for May 2005 program completers until 2008. Similarly, K-12
student test data require time for analysis and reporting. Even current state teacher
growth scores for 2013 require two consecutive years of test data on file with the state
(2011-2012, and 2012-2013) in order to calculate the growth score of students, and in
turn, teachers, from one year to the next. Such a time lag impacts the ability to provide
real time analysis of the education system for any parties involved, including schools of
education, K-12 teachers, school leaders, students, and parents. Time also is required
to monitor any changes made to evaluate their impact. At best the reports could offer a
baseline from which to monitor performance over time; however, only the NYCDOE has
indicated plans to continue with the reports; the TQRC report was a one-time effort.
Such one-shot reports are severely lacking in their ability to provide meaningful
feedback to the educator preparation profession. Systems invariably are a product of
the environment and the people in them (Boulding, 1956; Katz & Kahn, 1966; Parsons,
1951; Senge, 1990). Systems, especially if they are to be considered effective, must
establish feedback mechanisms and cycles, provide opportunities to set goals, and
monitor progress towards those goals (Emery, 2000; Senge, 1990). Senge describes
different types of feedback cycles, reinforcing or balancing, which either (1) reinforce or
amplify a process within a system or (2) balance and stabilize a process in a system. In
a similar way, the educator preparation in the United States, and specifically in New
York State, is a system that needs continuous feedback mechanisms which will help
balance or reinforce this profession. If the ultimate goal of educational change is to
enhance the quality of teachers, then adjusting entry variables (e.g., licensure
qualifications) is one part of the system. Others include adjustments to tenure and
promotion decisions. As each of these new or revised processes are put in place, one-
shot evaluations will not provide consistent and continuous input to help regulate the
system as a whole.

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Considerations for Policy Implications

Finally we consider the extent to which either of these reports (Boyd, Lankford, &
Wyckoff, 2009; NYCDOE, 2013a) provides relevant and actionable information for
making broad policy changes with regard to educator preparation programs.

The current education reform agenda at both federal and state levels is focused
on making every high school graduate ready for college or a career (U.S. Department of
Education, 2011). As noted earlier, the assumption behind this agenda is that more
rigorous accountability models will drive improvements system-wide.

It is not obvious, however, that either report discussed here has had or will have
an impact on educator preparation policies or on policies relating to other components
of the system. In part we hypothesize that effecting changes is difficult within a system
and associated accountability model that is highly segmented, and that policy changes
occur within, rather than across, system components. For example, the NYSED has
already taken action to make revisions to the licensure process in the state, partly
through the addition of a performance assessment, edTPA, that requires candidates to
submit a portfolio with sections on planning and preparation; evidence of teaching
practice, including video segments; and assessment of their own impact in the
classroom. The state education department has also made revisions to the in-service
teacher performance review process via the Annual Professional Performance Review
(APPR), which requires multiple points of assessment, including leader and peer
observations, growth scores, and other local evaluation metrics. These two evaluation
tools, edTPA and APPR, are not linked to provide a developmental trajectory of
teaching, however, and each only provides feedback within one particular component of
the system: teacher education programs or the K-12 school.

In addressing results from these reports (Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009;
NYCDOE, 2013a) regarding clinical experiences and school partnerships, we noted that
additional information that could be useful to assess the quality of pre-service
preparation is tracking where teachers conduct their clinical practice component of their
preparation. Many have argued that this component of pre-service preparation is
critical, as highlighted in recommendations set forth by the report of the Blue Ribbon
Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning
commissioned by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (2010).
One significant policy change that could emerge by examining evidence from each
report from a system perspective is to require all student teachers to be placed only with
those teachers rated as highly effective. For the first time, these new accountability
models could allow cross-sector policy changes. It is now possible to identify highly
effective teachers, and it would be possible to track outcomes over time from a policy
change that paired teacher candidates with those most effective in the classroom.
Considering and using information from multiple components of the state education
system could enhance effectiveness within the system overall. In this case, selecting

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highly effective mentor teachers could enhance the ability to transition entry-level
teachers into the profession.

In summary, neither the TQRC (Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009) nor the
NYCDOE (2013a) report appears to have had any direct influence on NYS educator
preparation policy changes. As noted above, the TQRC report was a one-time effort,
but it has likely served as a precursor to a new feedback report that the NYSED plans to
issue for each IHE across the state in the coming year. It is not clear which variables
and metrics will be used for these new state reports, and the NYSED would do well to
review recommendations from Henry et al. (2012) regarding concerns about accuracy
and fairness.

Overall there is a lack of a system perspective with regard to the evidence
emerging from these new accountability models. What is clear is that educator
preparation accountability will continue to be the subject of ongoing reports such as the
ones discussed here, and thus, they reflect a policy trend in state wide comprehensive
database development.

Conclusion

In reviewing both reports (Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2009; NYCDOE, 2013a), it
is clear that the evidence for program improvement is sparse and that causality is
difficult to determine. In fairness, neither report set out to provide a comprehensive set
of causal linkages for program improvement purposes. It is also clear from a review of
the reports’ findings that the reports are limited in impact because, by their design, the
responsibility and accountability for preparing effective educators is placed largely at the
foot of IHEs rather than treated from a system perspective as an endeavor involving
multiple stakeholders.

We recommend treating educator preparation from a system perspective
involving candidates, IHEs, K-12 schools, and policy makers across a timeframe from
program entry to early career. A system perspective could lead to more productive
outcomes from accountability reports. For example, the absence of a systems
approach to the evaluation of educator preparation programs means that program
elements that might be most critical to producing effective teachers, such as the quality
of faculty and program design, the quality of the clinical placement, the quality of the
supervision, and the selection of mentor teachers do not fit neatly into currently
available measures, but rather fall into gaps that currently exist in the accountability
system. Plecki et al. (2012) in the conclusion to their study noted the need for
cooperation among and across programs and institutions about “what elements matter”
(p. 331), and therefore what variables and measures should be consistently obtained
and used as a basis for improvement. This level of cooperation would help move
educator preparation program accountability beyond a task undertaken by one agency
about another agency.

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A further recommendation is that all stakeholders should have the opportunity to
develop specific questions to investigate. Neither report (Boyd, Lankford, & Wyckoff,
2009; NYCDOE, 2013a) presented here was driven by the development of specific
questions about preparation program improvements by any of the stakeholders
involved. For example, Plecki et al. (2012) were able to use a state database to
address specific questions of interest concerning teachers’ value-added scores in
relation to years of teaching experience. Again, this would involve cooperation and
collaboration among stakeholders about developing both the questions and suitable
measures.

As noted there have been several changes in reporting capabilities in the four
years between these reports. These changes include enhanced transparency and
greater public access to information about program completers. A second major
change is the capability to track impact in the classroom to individual teachers, allowing
evaluation at an individual rather than group level. While facets of this process are
controversial, we believe that the capability in and of itself is useful to help answer the
question of teacher effectiveness. While there has been increased sophistication in the
development of such measures to capture teachers’ impact on student learning, this
article points to a lack of sophistication in the processes by which educator preparation
accountability is being developed. We recommend a system approach, driven by
specific improvement questions, developed through collaboration around the critical
dimensions of effective teaching.

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May 2014, Vol. 8, No. 1, Pp. ISSN: 1937-3929
http://www.joci.ecu.edu doi:10.3776/joci.2014.v8n1p

About the Authors

Corinne Baron Donovan, PhD, is the Assistant Dean of Research and
Evaluation for the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, Adelphi University,
New York. Dr. Donovan’s research includes a focus on career development of
pre-service through in-service teachers, evaluation of teacher education, and
development of teacher dispositional and attitude instruments. She has a
broad background in adult learning and development as well as program
evaluation and a degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Email:
cdonovan@adelphi.edu

Jane E. Ashdown, PhD, is dean and professor at the Ruth S. Ammon School
of Education, Adelphi University. She has been an early childhood classroom
teacher and directed a university-based early literacy intervention project that
partnered with high need school systems to improve teaching effectiveness
and children’s literacy achievement. Her research interests include teacher
development and strategies for improving educator preparation. Email:
jashdown@adelphi.edu

Anne M. Mungai, PhD, is a Professor of Education, Chair of the Curriculum
and Instruction Department and Director of the graduate Special Education
program at the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, Adelphi University, New
York. Her research agenda over the last several years has revolved around
the concept of multicultural issues, Special Education inclusion issues, staff
development, gender issues, and learning. She is the author of the book
Growing up in Kenya: Rural Schooling and Girls, the co-editor of the books
Pathway to Inclusion: Voices from the Field, and co-editor of In the Spirit of
Ubuntu: Stories of Teaching and Research. She has published articles on
Multicultural Education and issues of Special Education Inclusion. Dr. Mungai
has served as a consultant to several schools that have started inclusion and
has provided service to schools as a professional developer and field
researcher in the area of cognition and classroom instruction with racially,

ethnically, and linguistically diverse populations. Email: MUNGAI@adelphi.edu

______________________________________
Donovan, Ashdown, and Mungai 110

http://www.joci.ecu.edu/

mailto:cdonovan@adelphi.edu

mailto:jashdown@adelphi.edu

mailto:MUNGAI@adelphi.edu

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