STATE BOARD RELEASES FIRST PERFORMANCE REPORT ON TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS
North Carolina's 46 public and private institutions of higher education with teacher education learned how they stack up today when the State Board of Education released the IHE (Institutions of Higher Education) Performance Report.
This report, required by the Excellent Schools Act, represents the first time that colleges and universities have been held accountable for their role in preparing classroom teachers for public schools in North Carolina. A variety of information - including graduate and employer surveys, test scores of prospective teachers and teacher education graduates and the percentage of graduates employed - was assembled about each teacher education program to rate their performance. Forty-six teacher education programs are included in the Performance Report reflecting the number of programs serving students in 1998-99. Now there are 47 programs serving students.
State Board Chairman Phillip J. Kirk Jr. said that this report was a new step in North Carolina's education accountability program. "We are well known for our accountability program for public schools and districts. This report extends that accountability to a new level." This report also places North Carolina at the front of a national trend; only a handful of states have begun reporting of this kind.
Each institution's teacher education program was rated according to three overall criteria: compliance with state and national accreditation standards, the quality of program completers, and involvement with and service to public schools. Each program received points based on whether they met or exceeded each criterion, and scores were totaled. In future years, these scores will be used to determine programs that will receive rewards or sanctions.
The State Board first received the list of institutions that showed their point totals, but not the institutions' names. This list was used to determine categories of achievement.
Beginning next year, the State Board plans to reward institutions with Exemplary programs by providing 500 $2,500 scholarships to be allotted among these institutions. On the sanctions side, colleges and universities that fail to meet specific criteria will be required to submit a written plan to the Department of Public Instruction detailing how they plan to correct the deficiencies. The Department also plans to conduct on-site reviews of programs that fail to meet specific criteria for two consecutive assessments.
The State Board of Education has the authority to approve or close teacher education programs in North Carolina.
State Superintendent Mike Ward thanked the public and private universities and colleges for their role in assembling this report. "I know it is not easy to begin a new accountability effort. The scrutiny can be uncomfortable, and the process can be time-consuming. But, the results can be extremely positive as we are able to see clearly the improvements we need to make and to reward those who are already doing an excellent job."
University of North Carolina President Molly Corbett Broad said, "We support the effort to develop clear and rigorous measures of achievement and welcome the first IHE Performance Report because it gives us more knowledge, more understanding, and more insight into the strengths and weaknesses of our 15 teacher education programs. I applaud the UNC Deans' Council on Teacher Education, which has worked cooperatively with the State Department of Public Instruction in developing the report and the structure for assessing rewards and sanctions for teacher education institutions. Accountability by each campus of the University is central to our efforts to raise the preparedness of teacher education graduates.
"UNC campuses are the major suppliers of teachers for the public schools of North Carolina. We take this responsibility very seriously because we know that the long-term economic well being of this state is linked to high-quality K-16 education. The growing shortage of teachers in our schools adds to the sense of urgency. Using the feedback provided by the IHE report as an important guide, the entire University of North Carolina will continue the significant efforts already under way to improve the teacher-education programs on our campuses. Our network of University-School Teacher Education Partnerships will play a vital role in these efforts."
Dr. A. Hope Williams, president of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, noted that overall the report illustrates the high quality of teacher education programs across the state. "Independent colleges and universities are proud of the critical role we play in providing teachers for the public schools of North Carolina. This report is an important first cut at developing measures that will help assure the citizens of North Carolina that teacher education programs are accountable and that they continue to increase in standards and quality," Williams said.
"The Department of Public Instruction has worked extremely hard to develop this benchmark work. Determining appropriate and accurate criteria is often difficult, especially when dealing with both large and small programs. We now know some of the challenges we need to address in order to have more complete data provided next year so that every program can be viewed comprehensively. As we strengthen the data gathering process, we also will improve the value of the reports to independent colleges and universities in the planning and evaluation efforts of their teacher education programs."
The IHE Performance Report is designed to increase standards for teacher preparation programs, and state educators at the university and public school levels say that is already happening as a result of this additional scrutiny. In future years, the report is expected to be refined, especially in the areas of definitions of terms and reporting protocols. As with any undertaking that involves data collection, the first benchmark year highlights procedures that need improvement.
Key findings include:
- The quality of students preparing to be teachers is improving. North Carolina
requires a grade point average of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale) to be admitted into teacher
education programs. Most students are significantly above that score. Also,
the SAT scores of education students are improving.
- Graduates of teacher education
programs expressed the greatest satisfaction
with the programs in general. Preparation in curriculum content and delivery
strategies received high marks. While graduates felt they were well prepared
overall, they reported that technology preparation was the weakest area. Because
of a new requirement that prospective teachers demonstrate technology competency,
this area is expected to improve.
- The number of minority students in teacher
preparation programs is lower than state education leaders would like. There
were only 835 full-time minority
in 1998-99 out of a total of 5,263 full-time undergraduates, representing only
15 percent of the overall number of students in teacher preparation programs.
- The PRAXIS test scores reflect content and knowledge of teaching practices. Graduates of some institutions perform at higher levels than others for a variety of reasons, including the quality of entering students, test-taking skills, the quality of the teacher education program and the students' comfort with testing and their maturity. The PRAXIS tests, national developed teacher exams, are considered a measure of program quality. In light of this, the State Board has already made changes to increase standards related to the PRAXIS and expects these scores will continue to improve.
To read the complete IHE Performance Report, go the DPI web site: http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/IHE/. Not only is the state summary information available there, but the 46 individual institutions' reports also are available there.
For more information, please contact Dr. Kathy Sullivan, director, Division of Human Resource Management, NC DPI, 919.807.3355.
About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.