Last week, the U.S. Department of Education “Department”) issued final regulations regarding the teacher preparation program accountability system. The regulations become effective 30 days from the date they are published in the Federal Register—the regulations have not yet been published as of the date of this post.

The goal of the accountability system is to collect and disseminate meaningful data on the quality of teacher preparation programs, provide such programs with ongoing feedback to help them improve, and respond to educator concerns regarding their readiness to enter the classroom after graduation. The regulations apply to all teacher preparation programs within the state, including traditional, alternative routes, and distance learning.

To promote these goals, the new regulations require additional reporting from states, beyond that already required by the Higher Education Act. States now will be required to report for each teacher preparation program:

  • Placement and retention rates of graduates in their first three years of teaching (including placement and retention in high-need schools);
  • Feedback from graduates and their employers on the effectiveness of program preparation;
  • Student learning outcomes measured by novice teachers’ student growth, teacher evaluation results, or other state-determined measures that are relevant to students’ outcomes; and
  • Miscellaneous program characteristics, such as assurances that the program has specialized accreditation, quality of clinical preparation, and whether candidates have met rigorous exit requirements.

Following this annual report, states must then provide technical assistance to any program rated as low-performing to help it improve.

The Department identifies the following timeline to assist states in the implementation process:

  1. 2016-2017 Academic Year: states should design their reporting system
  2. 2017-2018 Academic Year: states may use this academic year as a pilot year for the reporting system
  3. 2018-2019 Academic Year: all states must be fully implemented in the reporting system