State reports show most teacher candidates pass licensure test

Ohio has established a starting point for comparing and evaluating the college programs that train elementary, middle and high school teachers, releasing this week the first ever “educator preparation program performance reports.”

The reports, which will be prepared annually in the future, recognize “how important teacher preparation is to the success of children who are in K-12 schools,” said Rebecca Watts, associate vice chancellor of P-16 initiatives for the Ohio Board of Regents.

A statewide report — created as a result of legislation within Gov. John Kasich’s first budget — shows that most prospective teachers and principals passed their licensure exams and graduated from one of the 51 educator preparatory programs at Ohio’s public and private colleges and universities in 2010-11. Of the 5,818 prospective teachers and 709 principals who took the licensure test, 96 percent passed, according to the Ohio Board of Regents.

While the state does not plan to grade or rank the college programs, the reports are aimed at increasing accountability and transparency, “recognizing the direct effect that the graduates of those programs have on students,” Watts said.

The goal is not to single out any individual teacher, but examine the programs that prepare them, Watts said. The reports are limited to students who graduate and stay in Ohio to teach.

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Local colleges and universities — whose teacher licensure pass rates range from 21 percent for Central State University’s 38 students to 99 percent for the University of Dayton’s 146 — largely said the information indicates the quality of their programs. The data also link teachers to the performance of their students. Graduates were also surveyed on how well their college program prepared them.

Conclusions are limited

But local colleges also acknowledge that the information they gain from the first set of reports is limited.

“It is important to consider the context and limitations of the report,” said Tammy Kahrig, director of assessment and accreditation for the College of Education and Human Services at Wright State University. She said a small number of a school’s teacher candidates are represented.

Watts noted there was inconsistency on how data on field experience was reported by different institutions. She said the state is preparing to toughen the teacher licensure test, so data on the passage rate might differ in future years. The reports now offer a just snapshot look at the programs, but over time they will identify trends, Watts said.

“It’s an important information tool that we believe will become more important as time goes by,” she said.

Carine M. Feyten, dean of Miami University’s School of Education, Health and Society, said it would be premature to draw firm conclusions now. “But this report does provide us with benchmarks we can use to sharpen our focus, and we greatly welcome this kind of data,” she said.

Local schools did find points of pride in the reports, which also examine what qualities college student need to gain admittance to teacher preparatory programs, what their experiences are like once they are in the programs and how much time they spend actually teaching a classroom before they graduate.

The University of Dayton said of programs statewide that produce more than 15 graduates who become teachers, UD graduates have taught more students who perform better than average in reading and math tests than any other institution, said Kevin Kelly, UD’s dean of the School of Education and Allied Professions. Nearly 20 percent of the state’s newly licensed principals graduate from Dayton.

Urbana University on all indicators ranks in the top third of students and the university’s students teach in schools across the state, said Lucinda Leugers, interim dean of the College of Education.

Central State said their graduates leave with an average grade point average of 3.5. The university this school year hired a program coordinator for each of the eight licensure preparatory programs and in December 2012 opened the teacher education advisement and partnership center, said spokeswoman Gayle Barge. She said one of the goals is to improve the university’s pass rates on the teacher licensure tests either known as Praxis II or the ACTFL for foreign language.

Local colleges and universities said they will use the data to strengthen their programs.

“Our goal is for every teacher candidate who graduates from our program to exceed expectations while also applying their knowledge to situations out in the field,” said Sam Stringfield, director of the University of Cincinnati School of Education.

“We also want to be sure our candidates understand why the field experiences they have are so important, and how all of our preparation requirements helps them build a stronger resume. We recognize, at this early stage, that we need to be more attentive to making connections from one course to another and content from earlier courses to our field experiences.”

All reports can be viewed on the Ohio Board of Regents’ website.

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