Getting Better at Teacher Preparation and State Accountability: Strategies, Innovations, and Challenges Under the Federal Race to the Top Program
by Edward Crowe, December, 2011 (Hawaii pages 28-30)
Sponsored by Center for American Progress, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and The Broad Foundation
Since The Center for American Progress published “Race to The Top and Teacher Preparation: Analyzing State Strategies for Ensuring Real Accountability and Fostering Program Innovation” in March 2011, the 12 states funded by Race to The Top program in 2010 continued to implement their ambitious agendas. This paper discusses new information about the specifics of these states’ goals, activities, and challenges as part of our profiles of the commitments made by these states to improve teacher education and to strengthen public disclosure and accountability of program performance….
… For Hawaii, 462.2 reviewer points in the second round of Race to the Top competition earned it $74.9 million in federal funds. Hawaii’s proposal scored third highest of the 12 winners. It is the only state west of the Mississippi to win in the Race to the Top competition. It’s also interesting to note that Hawaii is one of four funded states whose proposal was shaped in significant ways by a consulting firm, Education First Consulting, whose partners include former foundation program officers, state policymakers, and lobbyists.
An analysis of Hawaii’s teacher-quality and program-improvement proposals shows positive attributes but raises several questions about the breadth and depth of the state’s ambitions for real change. On the positive side of the ledger, Hawaii will calculate and report publicly on the teacher effectiveness of graduates from its 11 in-state preparation programs. Hawaii has a good state data system, adopted the Common Core State Standards and has joined with other states to develop better assessments of K-12 student learning.
These strengths are undercut by vague commitments in other important areas. Hawaii will make limited moves to expand or improve alternative preparation pathways to the classroom. It has no plans to develop real accountability standards for teacher education. And it’s not clear when measures of teacher effectiveness will be available for any purpose—whether for better teacher-evaluation practices or for public disclosure of preparation-program quality.
Leadership change may also affect the pace and impact of Hawaii’s Race to the Top agenda. One of the few states whose governor did not participate in the competition’s presentations and discussions at the U.S. Department of Education in August 2010, Hawaii has a new governor, Neil Abercrombie, elected in November 2010, and a change in party control of the governorship. The interim state superintendent, Kathryn Matayoshi, and interim deputy superintendent, Ronn Nozoe, who did make the state’s case for Race to the Top, now hold those positions officially.
Specifics of the Hawaii strategy
Though the state’s proposal is vague on the actual disclosure date, Hawaii plans to calculate and report teacher-effectiveness ratings for all of its in-state preparation programs, as required by the Race to the Top prospectus. It cites three dates in the proposal when it will make the findings public—2012, 2014, and 2016. After flagging 2012 and 2014 for reporting teacher-effectiveness data, the proposal notes, “Hawaii is unable to provide student growth data until SY 2015-2016, but … HIDOE [the state education department] will establish interim measures using growth models.” It’s not clear what the interim growth models might be for a state that is unable to calculate student growth, but one reviewer commented, “It will take five years before the state can report its findings.”
The state offers no other measures for gauging the quality or impact of its teacher education programs. Federal reports show that Hawaii has never designated a program as low performing or “at-risk” of becoming low performing. Its teacher licensure test pass rate, 89 percent, is the lowest of any state. Hawaii is one of the states that require National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education approval for in-state preparation programs as part of the state program oversight system. The lack of rigorous evidence-based outcome measures in NCATE’s system is consistent with the Hawaii approach to preparation-program accountability.
What will Hawaii’s education leaders do with teacher-effectiveness data about their preparation programs? When it is finally disclosed to the public, the state’s Race to the Top proposal suggests that may be the end of the matter. State officials say they will “monitor and reaccredit all teacher and administrator preparation programs using outcome-based, data-driven criteria beginning in 2015.” But plans for using the data are described as efforts “to encourage programs shown to be ineffective to make needed improvement.”
Another possible action step outlined in the proposal is participation by the state Professional Standards Board in the Teacher Preparation Assessment Consortium. While six of the funded Race to the Top states have joined this multistate effort, as of December 2011 there’s no mention of Hawaii on the project website’s list of state partners, nor does Hawaii’s Race to the Top website or Professional Standards Board give any evidence of actual involvement.
Looking at state capacity to improve preparation program accountability policies and practices, the Data Quality Campaign reports that Hawaii has all 10 key data system elements for a strong education data infrastructure. Yet the state has taken only 4 of the 10 “essential steps” to make this system useful and effective for the public and for policymakers. Among the missing steps are linked data systems (tying together student and teacher files, for example), stable support for the data system, and the ability to generate reports using individual-level student data.
Overall, then, it appears that five years after receiving almost $75 million in federal Race to the Top funds, Hawaii will then take one small—but significant—step in the direction of meaningful oversight for teacher-education programs by reporting teaching-effectiveness ratings for in-state programs. If this disclosure does happen, it will be a useful step.
Perhaps Hawaii is a state where targeted technical assistance and stepped-up pressure to do a better job of program accountability would benefit schools, students, and teachers. The improved state data system also funded through Race to the Top would allow Hawaii to calculate, report, and employ for real accountability such preparation-program quality measures as job placement rates, persistence in teaching, and feedback survey findings from program graduates and their employers.
Full Text: Getting Better at Teacher Preparation and State Accountability