This post is part one of a two-part series on the Tennessee Educator Preparation Report Card. Next week in part two, we will examine how to use the Report Card.

Since 2016, the State Board of Education has been entrusted with the production of a report on the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs in Tennessee. Each year since then, the State Board has continued to enhance the Educator Preparation Report Card into a more user-friendly tool for local school districts, prospective teachers, and educator preparation providers (EPPs). The latest Report Card includes a statewide report, provider-level reports, and a technical report for more context on each metric and how these were evaluated. Changes to the Report Card over time have been driven by feedback from educational stakeholders with improved transparency and effectiveness in mind.

How are these report cards connected to improving student learning?

When it comes to improving learning in K-12 education, teachers are the most important in-school factor and school leaders are the second most important factor. Each scored metric on the Educator Preparation Report Card is backed by research linking it to student learning or other significant student outcomes. The Provider Impact domain includes teachers’ scores on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System. This is the most direct measure we have that indicates teacher impact on academic progress.

What changes were made this year and why? Did stakeholder input play a part in the changes?

We updated the Educator Preparation Report Card in 2019 to include a new design and additional features to make it more user-friendly, such as filters by program type, location, and endorsement areas offered. The scoring framework was also updated based on feedback from EPPs and other stakeholders. For example, we are no longer scoring first-year placement in Tennessee public schools. Since the rate of employment in Tennessee public schools varies greatly depending on the location and mission of each EPP, most stakeholders agreed that it was not realistic to hold EPPs accountable for completers’ job placement in Tennessee.

The points that were previously allocated to first-year placement are now allocated to third-year retention, which used to be an unscored metric. Retention is important because teachers improve rapidly during their first few years in the classroom. Retention also helps combat teacher shortages and district-level stakeholders indicated the importance of retention in particular.

We collected stakeholder input in a variety of ways, including:

  • The Educator Preparation Report Card Advisory Council, consisting of representatives from EPPs, Tennessee school districts, partner organizations, a State Board member, and State Representative John Ragan
  • Interviews and surveys of district leaders, school leaders, and current teacher preparation candidates
  • Presentations at the Tennessee Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, the Tennessee Association of School Personnel Administrators, and the University of Tennessee Educator Preparation Convening
  • Feedback forms distributed through the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association

What is the future of these report cards? Are more changes planned?

This year’s Report Card included two new unscored domains: Candidate Assessment and Candidate Satisfaction. The Candidate Assessment domain reports pass rates on the assessments required for licensure, including both pedagogical and content-area assessments. The Satisfaction domain reports how prepared candidates felt by their program. In future years, one or both of these domains may be scored.

Going forward, we will need to also consider the impact of the COVID-19 public health crisis on metrics used in the Educator Preparation Report Card. Since the health crisis has interrupted K-12 education and educator preparation, we will have less available data on the 2020 Report Card compared to previous years.

What else you need to to know

The Tennessee Educator Preparation Report Card is a public transparency tool for Tennesseans to learn more about the progress of EPPs toward the State Board of Education’s key priority areas. An EPP’s performance on the Report Card is not used to determine state approval. The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) produces a separate set of annual reports that are used to make decisions about an EPP’s approval status. The TDOE’s annual reports include more detailed information to enable EPPs to make programmatic decisions.

Erika Leicht is senior research associate at the Tennessee State Board of Education.