All of our teacher preparation programs in the State of Oregon believe in external reviews and continuous improvement to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our students and schools. Oregon teacher preparation programs engage in regular review through state and national accreditation. We are accountable and want to continually improve so that we are meeting the needs of today’s diverse students with well-prepared teachers who understand their needs.
Although we welcome third-party review and assessment of an area as important as preparing teachers to be successful, the collective entities responsible for teacher education in Oregon have some concerns about the report issued today by the National Council for Teacher Quality and US News and World Report. NCTQ uses a lot of “inputs” such as reviewing textbooks used by students, and course requirements and other data taken from websites and materials, rather than on the full content of the teacher education programs and the “outcomes” of how successful teachers are in the classroom. Ongoing concerns about this rating system led to many Oregon teacher preparation programs to opt out of completing the survey, resulting in low/failing ratings for those institutions. NCTQ is not an accrediting entity but is a self-appointed group with its own approach as to how states should govern teacher preparation programs.
Improving educational outcomes for Oregon’s students is a shared P-20 responsibility, and one that extends beyond preparation to include mentoring, evaluation, professional development and opportunities for leadership. In Oregon, we want to make sure that every high-quality candidate who is prepared and hired in Oregon is supported as they continue to develop in their professional roles.
Reports that highlight needed areas for improvement in educator preparation are plentiful. Oregon’s teacher preparation programs use multiple types of data to assess effectiveness, from graduates, employers, accreditors, and external sources, in order to continually refine and adapt our programs as warranted so that future candidates are ready to assume their roles in the classroom. Additionally, evaluating preparation programs on the quality of their content based on the Common Core State Standards may be somewhat premature since in nearly all cases, states and school districts have not yet fully implemented Common Core assessments. Regardless, all programs use the state licensure content tests which are fully aligned with the Common Core state standards. All Oregon prepared teachers must pass these tests in order to teach in those subjects.
Over two years ago, Oregon took steps to increase the rigor of educator program reviews and state program approval processes. Every program at each institution now provides data that document their candidates’ ability to impact student learning, know their content, and differentiate for students’ needs among other skills. Programs and the state have not yet had time to compile and analyze the new data being collected. We are already seeing evidence of how this is helping programs ensure that they use multiple sources of evidence to evaluate their candidates’ progress towards a license to practice.