Since 2016, the State Board of Education (SBE) has produced an annual report on the effectiveness of educator preparation programs (EPPs) in Tennessee. The Educator Preparation Report Card includes placement and retention rates, performance on licensure examinations, and teacher effectiveness.
These EPPs — 42 teacher preparation programs and 20 leader preparation programs — represent each region of Tennessee and offer a variety of pathways to educator licensure.
Many of these programs are housed in public or private higher education institutions, but prospective educators also have alternative pathways to licensure, such as Rutherford County Schools, the state’s first school district approved as an EPP, which focuses on training career and technical education teachers.
Accounting For COVID-19 In The Educator Preparation Report Card
Because of data limitations due to COVID-19, some data points were not available for the 2019-20 school year. SBE staff met with the Report Card Advisory Council to determine how to address these data gaps and modify the Report Card’s scoring framework. Based on their input, the report includes teacher effectiveness data from previous years but does not give EPPs a performance rating based on this data. This was intended to strike a balance between transparency and fairness for EPPs. Since teacher effectiveness data determines a large portion of an EPP’s total score, EPPs did not receive an overall rating on the 2020 Report Card.
Every edition of the Report Card is based on a three-year cohort of new educators, with the 2020 Report Card looking at educators who earned initial licensure in 2016-17, 2017-18, or 2018-19. A one-year lag allows us to examine how teachers are performing once they enter the classroom; for this reason, the latest version is the 2020 Report Card even though it was released in 2021.
The Educator Preparation Report Card As A Tool
The Report Card is aimed at four audiences: prospective teachers or leaders, Tennessee school districts, EPPs themselves, and the general public. Prospective educators or leaders may use the data to identify providers that offer high-quality programs in a preferred content area, such as secondary math. The Report Card allows prospective educators to see licensure exam pass rates for a program’s candidates and where recent completers are employed. School and district staff can use data to build relationships with local EPPs and improve recruitment efforts. EPPs can use this information to identify strengths and challenges, particularly in comparison to other programs across the state. For the general public, the Report Card serves as a transparency tool to learn more about educator and leader training.
Continuous Improvement In Educator Preparation
Since the SBE began producing the Report Card in 2016, EPPs have improved in several areas. For example, the percentage of candidates earning high-demand endorsements, such as ESL and special education, has increased as EPPs have created dual-endorsement programs allowing candidates to earn multiple endorsements at the same time. EPPs have also reported that they are increasingly integrating data analysis from the Report Card into programmatic decision making.
What The 2020 Report Showed Us
For a few years, Tennessee saw a decline in the number of people completing educator preparation programs; this decline seems to have leveled off with the number of newly licensed teachers in 2018-19 being slightly higher than in 2017-18. Tennessee is also making slow but steady progress at increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of new teachers. In 2016, just 13.9 percent of recent completers were people of color; that percentage rose to 16 percent on the latest report. There is still room for improvement, though, as nearly 40 percent of students in Tennessee’s public schools are people of color.
Erika Leicht is senior research associate for the Tennessee State Board of Education.