How Effective are Georgia State University’s Teacher Preparation Programs?
At Georgia State University, we believe educator preparation programs should be held to high standards. Our teacher preparation programs demonstrate that we prepare teachers who have a positive impact on children’s learning and development and who are committed to staying in the profession. We focus on collection and analysis of performance-based data to help us understand the answers to questions such as: What do our candidates know? Do their students learn? Are they employed and do they stay? Do their employers feel they are well prepared? By analyzing data at both the program level and for our entire preparation unit, we are able to document the effectiveness of our programs and continuously improve the way we prepare teachers to meet the needs of students. For highlights of our program effectiveness, see our 2012 Educator Preparation Report Summary or for more detailed information, see our discussion of data related to the questions below.
Do our candidates know their content?
All of our candidates take a state-wide assessment focusing on their knowledge of the content areas (e.g. math, science, social studies, early childhood education subject areas) they will be teaching. The purpose of the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) is to ensure candidates have the knowledge and skills needed to teach in Georgia’s public schools. In 2012, our programs had an overall pass rate of 95% on the GACE content knowledge assessments. (Click here for a summary of Georgia State’s pass rates over the last ten years.)
Programs also analyze additional information, such as GPA in courses, portfolio artifacts, and subject matter exams, to evaluate candidates’ content knowledge. For a detailed summary of the data we collect and analyze related to our candidates’ content knowledge, see our Content Knowledge Data Summary Reports for 2011 and 2012.
What is the impact of our candidates’ instruction on children’s learning?
Every program collects data to show that our preservice teachers’ instructional approaches result in children’s ability to demonstrate learning related to the Georgia Performance Standards and/or the Common Core standards. Performance data we collect to demonstrate this ability include:
Samples of preservice teachers’ lessons with analysis of students’ gains on pretest and posttest assignments.
Portfolios of candidates’ units of instruction, including video-taped lessons, analysis of children’s learning, in-depth documentation of how assessment information led to individual support for struggling learners and the result of this support.
Classroom observations by supervisors and cooperating teachers with written feedback on candidates’ ability to modify instruction to meet the needs of both high-ability learners, children with special learning needs, and English language learners.
We analyze candidates’ ability to teach at the midpoint of their programs and again by the end of their programs. Examination of the 2012 data at the unit level indicated over 96% of our initial preparation candidates demonstrated that they could positively impact student learning. (For detailed summaries of our candidates’ teaching abilities, see the data summary reports analyzed by our faculty committees.)
Do our candidates take jobs in Georgia’s public schools and do they stay?
Over the last five years, the economic situation in Georgia has resulted in teachers delaying their retirements and in school systems increasing class sizes. These factors have led to fewer job opportunities for newly prepared teachers. In 2007, over 80% of our graduates took jobs in the year immediately following graduation. This number has decreased since that time with approximately 50% of our graduates taking jobs upon program completion in 2011. (See summary report of yield and retention.)
Workforce data indicates 91% of 2009 Georgia State completers who took jobs in Georgia public schools remained in the classroom the subsequent year. Looking back on the overall retention rate of Georgia State graduates from 2006, after four years in the profession 76% were still teaching in comparison to 67% retention state-wide for all University System of Georgia graduates. (See Induction Committee reports.)
Do our candidates take jobs in high-needs urban schools?
Of graduates from 2007-2008, more than 70% of graduates from Georgia State programs started teaching in high-needs urban schools. Three years after graduation, the retention for Georgia State University teachers working in high needs schools was 80%. (For additional information, see the Induction Committee reports.)
Do principals think Georgia State University graduates are well prepared?
Principals who employ our graduates rate their preparation as strong. As documented in our Induction Committee reports (2010, 2011), we consistently receive high marks from the administrators who employ our graduates.
Do our candidates and our graduates believe they are well prepared?
We pay close attention to our candidates’ feedback while they are in our program and once they take jobs in schools. These data are analyzed to help us continually make adjustments to improve teacher preparation. Our candidates’ and graduates’ judgments are summarized in data summary reports and reviewed by faculty.
Overall our candidates rate their preparation programs highly. The area they rank as the strongest in Georgia State programs is the degree to which they are prepared to positively impact student learning. (See Data Summary Reports for Standards and Accreditation, Field Experience, Diversity, and Content Knowledge committees for more information on candidates’ feedback on our programs.)
The Board of Regents Completer Survey allows us to compare our completers’ ratings of program effectiveness to the state average on a range of items (See Induction reports, 2010 and 2011). Data from our alumni indicate over 90% agree or strongly agree they were effectively prepared on 32 different indicators. Data analyzed by an outside educational consulting company (Eduventures, 2012) compared our alumni data to participating institutions nationwide. Over 87% of our alumni from 2006-2011 felt either prepared or well prepared by their Georgia State University program.
What can we do to improve?
Each year we collect data to answer questions related to expectations we have established for our programs (See our Conceptual Framework Learning Outcomes). Our learning outcomes specify what we expect our candidates to demonstrate by program completion. Faculty and representatives from our public school partners in the Metro Atlanta area analyze these data to identify program and unit strengths and areas of improvement (see committee data summary reports). Committees document the results of their analyses and identify action items for the following year. Our annual work on reform initiatives and on-going analyses of data results in a process of continual improvement. Annual unit assessment plans (2010, 2011, 2012) document our yearly cycle.
In March, 2013 Georgia State University prepared an institutional report describing our candidates’ knowledge, performance, and dispositions; our assessment system; our approach to field experiences, our attention to diversity, our faculty performance, and our unit’s organizing structure. An 11 member team of examiners from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission reviewed our information, examined our data, visited our cooperating schools, and spoke with teachers and administrators who partner with us. The NCATE Board of Examiners’ report indicates Georgia State University meets all standards for full accreditation.
How can we improve our understanding of our program effectiveness?
Georgia State University faculty are part of a state-wide initiative to establish Teacher Preparation Program Effectiveness Measures (TPPEM) which will hold educator preparation providers accountable to high program standards and outcomes by applying consistent effectiveness measures across programs. According to the most recent draft of this initiative, the TPPEM will base 50% of a program’s effectiveness rating on Georgia Teacher Evaluation Measure scores (TEM) of graduates in their first and second year of teaching. Other measures of teacher preparation program effectiveness will include: (a) completers’ success at increasing student achievement during their induction period and subsequently obtaining a clear renewable certificate, (b) their performance on revised and more stringent state content area assessments (GACE) and (c) their performance on a nationally-normed assessment of their ability to teach in their content areas (edTPA). In preparation for these new measures, Georgia State faculty are currently serving on committees developing the new GACE assessments and are using data from edTPA portfolio pilot assessments to consider program revisions.