How Can States Support Better Teacher Prep? Start with Better Data.

The strength of teacher preparation programs matters now more than ever, as school districts work to ensure students are ready for college and careers in an increasingly complex world. Many districts are struggling to match their schools’ and students’ needs with the right mix of great teachers who are ready from day one to provide engaging and rigorous instruction. More challenging academic standards require teachers with deeper content knowledge, and an ever-diversifying student population calls for a more diverse teacher workforce. Further, in many places, it is an ongoing challenge to match the supply of teaching talent to the demand in particular grades, subjects, or regions.

So how can state education agencies (SEAs) work together with educator preparation programs to address these challenges?

Part of the solution starts with better data—and that’s where SEAs can play a critical role. The information readily available in many states reports who enters teacher preparation programs, but it does not track how those teachers meet the needs of students upon entering the classroom or the hiring needs of schools and districts. SEAs can support teacher preparation by making available the information needed to address the challenges of today’s teaching workforce, offering links to PK-12 data that provide more robust evidence of teachers’ classroom readiness and experiences after graduation as well as tracking supply and demand within regions and states. In places where SEAs are providing this type of outcomes-based information, it is making a difference.

Today, we’re partnering with the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to release Getting to Better Prep: A State Guide for Teacher Preparation Data Systems. In it, we look closely at the work of six states that have been leaders in the process of developing new—and very different—outcomes-based data systems. These states—Massachusetts, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, and Illinois—participated in a series of convenings to learn from each other and advance their data systems. With this report, we’re excited to share a compilation of these states’ lessons and common best practices for data collection, and the benefits they’ve seen as a result.

Consider the strides in Illinois, where the new data system will mean the difference between information only on compliance, and information that illuminates places where individual programs excel or need support.

And Rhode Island, where one school district was able to use new data to recognize the number of candidates they were hiring from a particular prep provider, and revise their student-teaching agreement with that provider to make it better suited to the district’s needs and enhance their partnership with that provider.

And plenty of others. It’s inspiring to see what’s possible when SEAs and prep providers mutually commit to digging into outcomes-based data and pushing forward for students and teachers. This report shares with other SEA leaders the common best practices used by the six featured states in building and using their unique outcomes-based data systems. It can be used as a guide for other states who are considering or just beginning the work of supporting teacher preparation with more robust data.

Of course, better data alone doesn’t solve all the challenges of preparing teachers for the classroom. But a better data system is a critical first step in providing the information necessary for states, districts, and preparation providers to work together in ensuring teacher candidates are better prepared to meet the needs of students.

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

About TNTP

TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

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