Research findings released today suggest that teacher preparation programs with higher overall National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) ratings produce graduates who are no more or less effective at raising student test scores. Classroom teachers working in North Carolina who graduated from programs that meet NCTQ's standards were more effective at raising students' test scores in 15 out of 124 comparisons, less effective in 5 comparisons, and no different in 104 comparisons.

The premise behind setting consistent national standards and rating teacher preparation programs is simple – programs that meet the standards and receive higher ratings should graduate more effective teachers. NCTQ, a nonpartisan research and policy organization, rates teacher preparation programs based on 19 input and process-based standards in its biennial Teacher Prep Review.

The new study, conducted in collaboration with NCTQ as a part of the University of North Carolina system’s ongoing teacher-quality research efforts, did not find strong relationships between the performance of teacher preparation program graduates working in North Carolina and NCTQ’s overall program ratings. Researchers Gary Henry and Kevin Bastian assessed the relationships between NCTQ’s overall teacher preparation program ratings, scores on NCTQ’s teacher preparation program standards, and two key measures of teacher performance—value added to student achievement, and evaluation ratings for all novice North Carolina teachers who graduated from a program rated by NCTQ. 

The findings for these two NCTQ standards suggest potential directions for improving the performance of teacher preparation program graduates. First, there is evidence that teacher preparation programs that systematically and routinely obtain outcomes data and track their graduates’ performance produce more effective graduates. Second, results suggest that setting higher standards for admissions into teacher preparation programs may help improve future outcomes for prospective teachers. This finding is aligned with the new admissions standards set by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Henry, the Patricia and Rodes Hart Chair of Public Policy and Education at Vanderbilt University, said of their findings, “If teacher prep programs focus attention and resources on meeting standards to raise their ratings, their efforts should pay off in terms of better teachers and more demonstrated student learning.  Meeting many of the NCTQ standards does not appear to lead to higher performing teachers.  Other standards, however, do appear to yield benefits.”

Bastian, a senior research associate at UNC-Chapel Hill and director of the UNC Teacher Quality Research Initiative, added, “Meeting the NCTQ Elementary Math standard was not associated with elementary teachers’ performance in raising their students’ math scores.  On the other hand, programs that met NCTQ’s selection standards produced higher performing graduates, particularly those that required applicants to have SAT scores above 1120 or ACT scores above 24.”

More detailed findings of the study are described in the brief, “Measuring Up: The National Council on Teacher Quality’s Ratings of Teacher Preparation Programs and Measures of Teacher Performance."

Over the past seven years, the UNC General Administration and the 15 UNC universities engaged in educator preparation have partnered with the Education Policy Initiative at Carolina (EPIC) to conduct research on teacher and school leader preparation and performance in North Carolina.  Researchers have assessed the effectiveness and persistence of teachers and principals prepared by UNC system institutions, surveyed recent graduates about their perceptions of preparation quality, tracked the percentage of UNC system-prepared teachers working in North Carolina public schools, and identified the school districts in which UNC system-prepared teachers teach.  This research agenda is a central component of the University’s commitment to use data and evidence to improve the quality of teacher and school leader preparation programs.

The results of UNC’s focused research efforts and approach to accountability are enabling state educators and policy-makers to understand where their policies and investments are paying off, as well as where they are not achieving the intended results or producing unintended negative side-effects.  The availability of this research and a willingness to take actions based on it places North Carolina in a position to improve teacher performance and student learning.

Alisa Chapman, UNC Vice President for Academic and University Programs, has overseen the initiative since its inception.  She commented, “This study helps us to better understand how to focus the reform and continuous improvement of our 15 teacher preparation programs across the UNC system. We have been committed to producing the data needed for evidence-based reforms. These findings suggest that we should continue and strengthen our research and dissemination efforts.”

NCTQ Collaborative Research

For the past decade, NCTQ has released national biennial ratings of teacher preparation programs based on a set of input and process-based standards. This ongoing effort to evaluate teacher preparation programs is committed to continually improving educators’ work through data and evidence.  With a mutual goal to advance teacher preparation through evidence, NCTQ shared its ratings with EPIC-affiliated researchers to evaluate the performance of novice teachers. 

Read NCTQ’s formal response to the research findings.  View a complete set of analysis results; additional information on the data, sample, and methods of this research in the research brief and technical appendix.

The University of North Carolina

The oldest public university in the nation, the University of North Carolina enrolls more than 220,000 students and encompasses all 16 of North Carolina’s public institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees, as well as the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the nation’s first public residential high school for academically gifted students.  UNC campuses support a broad array of distinguished liberal-arts programs, two medical schools and one teaching hospital, two law schools, a veterinary school, a school of pharmacy, 11 nursing programs, 15 schools of education, five schools of engineering, and a renowned arts conservatory.  The UNC Center for Public Television, with its 11-station statewide broadcast network, is also under the University umbrella.

Teacher Quality Research Study Contacts 

Dr. Kevin Bastian
Director, Teacher Quality Research Initiative
Education Policy Initiative at Carolina
UNC Chapel Hill
kbastian@email.unc.edu
919-698-6658

Dr. Gary Henry
Patricia and Rodes Hart Chair
Professor of Public Policy and Education
Vanderbilt University
gary.henry@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-0249

Dr. Alisa Chapman
Vice President for Academic and University Programs
UNC General Administration
chapman@northcarolina.edu
919-843-8929

Thursday, May 14, 2015

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