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Setting Bold Course, Delaware Serves Up Info on Teacher-Prep Performance

UPDATED

Delaware is the latest state to put out detailed report cards outlining how its teacher-preparation programs are faring.

Under the federal Higher Education Act, all states have to release some data on teacher prep. But with this release Delaware joins a small group of states—Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Michigan (am I missing any others?)—that are going above and beyond the federal collection requirements. 

The new reports are the product of a 2013 state law and regulations altering many aspects of teacher prep in the First State. Among other change, the law set a minimum threshold for SAT scores and required a new performance assessment.

On these reports, Delaware's accounting includes data on how students taught by program graduates fare; program selectivity and the diversity of the prospective teachers; and whether graduates make it through the first three years of teaching. In fact, these measures aren't terribly far off from what the federal government wants to see in its pending regulations for teacher preparation. Each of these has a target performance level, and points are distributed according to how close the program came to meeting it. 

Delaware aggregates data across the different measures to assign each program to a performance tier, between 1 and 4. Scoring highest were Wilmington University's K-4 Bachelor of Science program and the University of Delaware's elementary teacher education program.

A few interesting things worth pointing out.

First, Delaware has released data at the program level (i.e., secondary mathematics, elementary), rather than by institution. That's bound to please groups like the National Council on Teacher Quality, which has pointed out that very few states have that capacity at the moment. 

Second, the data is based on a 5-year average, which allows the state to aggregate candidates across several years in small programs, and probably helps soften any major swings in performance.

Finally, these ratings won't have consequences for programs until at least 2016. At that point, the ratings could lead to a program being put on probation and, ultimately, to having its approval yanked. 

Much more at the state's website; be sure to check it out.

UPDATE: Delaware's teacher-prep programs are not happy with the new report cards, reports Newsworks, protesting them for reasons similar to the outcry over the federal regs (data too narrow, no control over where graduates teach, and so on.) Check the news site's story for those perspectives, too. 

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