NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 4, 2009

Texas is among the first states to toughen its standards for colleges of education and other teacher-training programs amid criticism that too many are "cash cows" that produce weak instructors.

Under a proposed new rating system, the programs would be held accountable for their graduates' effectiveness on the job -- especially regarding student achievement.  Teacher programs that repeatedly fall short of the standards could lose their state accreditation.

The State Board for Educator Certification gave initial approval to the rules last month and is expected to finalize them in February:

  • The biggest change to the accrediting rules -- and potentially the most controversial -- involves linking a teacher's ability to improve student test scores to that teacher's training.
  • In theory, the state, which still is working on a formula and a long-range data system, should be able to determine which programs produce graduates whose students make the biggest -- or smallest -- gains.

The changes to Texas' accrediting system come as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is reiterating long-standing criticisms of teacher training.  In a speech late last month, Duncan said universities have been using schools of education as "cash cows" that generate profits for other departments.  He added that "many if not most" of the nation's education schools are doing a "mediocre job."

Texas has 177 educator-preparation programs.  They are run by different providers -- universities, community colleges, school districts, for-profit companies -- and their standards vary.  A graduate student may be enrolled for a year, while some alternative certification programs turn out teachers in a few months.

Until now, the state has based accreditation on just one factor: the performance of teachers-to-be on the state's written certification exam.

Source: Ericka Mellon, "Teachers' trainers must make the grade, too; Texas will hold programs accountable for graduates' success," Houston Chronicle, November 2, 2009.

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