Commission Calls for Data Systems to Improve Teacher Preparation
States can take the first step now to learn what works
Building strong data systems on teachers’ education and early careers may be the single best way to improve teacher preparation, says a report from the Southern Regional Education Board Teacher Preparation Commission. The Commission recommends that states take the lead in this critical first step to benefit teachers, the programs that prepare them, and the students they teach.
Legislators and education leaders from 15 states came together to make the recommendations.
“We know that teachers matter most in a child’s education at school,” said SREB President Dave Spence. “This is one action states can begin now to improve teacher preparation so teachers are more effective and students learn more.”
The aim is to bring together a state’s department of education, teacher preparation programs and school districts around ways to improve teacher education. What are the students like, for example, in the schools where a college’s graduates most often teach? Which student-teaching experiences best prepare teachers for rural schools? What might others learn from a prep program whose graduates consistently stay in the classroom beyond the first few years?
Today, few states have data systems that serve these needs, said the report’s author, Jim Wyckoff of the University of Virginia Curry School of Education. Colleges of education, state departments of education and school districts collect their own information but often don’t collaborate to ask or answer questions about what works best in teacher preparation.
“Using data for continuous improvement should spur discussions about how we prepare new teachers for today’s students,” said SREB Vice President Mark Emblidge. “Plus, principals can use the data as they recruit and hire teachers. Districts can monitor supply and demand. And prospective teachers can use the information as they choose their preparation programs.”
The report, More than the Numbers: Teacher Preparation Data Systems, points to pioneering systems in Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee as models to learn from. It also lays out promising practices of these early systems, which:
- Follow teachers through their careers
- Focus on outcome measures
- Break down data silos
- Make data more accessible and transparent
The Commission offers three recommendations:
1. States should bring together teacher education information from state and local agencies. Data should cover prep program admission and course requirements; graduates’ licensure, certification and teaching assignments; and teacher outcomes and retention.
2. States should disseminate the data widely, tailored to the needs of different audiences.
3. States should use the data to empower change by helping preparation programs and school districts analyze, discuss and apply what they learn.
Safeguarding the information is of central importance, the report emphasizes, so that data is collected, used and stored in ways that protect privacy, security and confidentiality.
The charge of the SREB Teacher Preparation Commission, chaired by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, is to develop practical and effective statewide recommendations to improve teacher preparation programs. Members include legislators, deans, university presidents, heads of postsecondary systems, state and district superintendents, and leaders of nationwide organizations.
The Commission launched in 2016 and will release a final report and recommendations in fall 2018. SREB will work with members as they explore the recommendations in their home states.
The Southern Regional Education Board , a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, works with states to improve public education at every level, from early childhood through doctoral education. Member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.