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Education preparation program reports now available


Building on a comprehensive effort to strengthen educator preparation programs in Delaware, including a significant increase in state funding and other supports, the Delaware Department of Education today released its first annual reports on the state’s teacher and specialist educator preparation programs, providing information ranging from the diversity of programs’ candidate classes to student performance outcomes of graduates to job placement and retention within the state.


As planned, this year’s versions will not be used in any decision-making about the status of the programs. They are meant to set a benchmark upon which programs can improve as they continue to implement changes signed into law in 2013. The department also notes that, because these reports draw on data from the past five years, they do not yet meaningfully reflect steps taken by the state and individual schools to strengthen programs over the past two years.


In addition, releasing the first reports before there are any consequences for school performance will allow the department to have further discussions with the institutions of higher education. The department will refine the measures by which programs are evaluated to most accurately show their progress.


However, the reports will give prospective students considering educator preparation programs in Delaware a new resource for learning about their options, and the state’s districts and charters will have additional information on the strengths of each program.


“Students make a great investment of time and finances as they pursue their teaching degrees. These reports will serve as a field test this year and important information to help consider all options, from traditional to alternative routes,” Acting Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky said. “And the reports will help the state’s providers benchmark their programs and graduates’ progress. We hope this will help facilitate even greater collaboration as we work together to identify best practices and share them across the state.”


The majority of the state’s early career educators -- about 60 percent -- are prepared by Delaware preparation programs; the reports are part of Delaware’s larger effort to strengthen such programs throughout the state. 


Over the last five years, educator preparation programs have received more than $5 million in sub-grant funding to support their programs’ efforts. The state more than tripled annual funding to the programs through these efforts. In January, the state published a report on the performance of alternative-route programs. More recently, the department has highlighted innovation happening at places such as Wilmington University, which has established a yearlong clinical residency program in collaboration with the Capital, Indian River and Red Clay Consolidated school districts.


Prior to the passage of Senate Bill 51 in 2013, programs were approved by the Delaware Department of Education largely by virtue of achieving accreditation by a national body. Senate Bill 51 established new approval and accountability processes, set higher standards for program entrance, exit and content, and aligned licensure requirements specific to Delaware. Regulation 290 was published in July 2014 to further detail these requirements.


The provisions in that landmark legislation to strengthen Delaware’s educator preparation programs include:

·        Programs must require at least 10 weeks of student teaching, placing students with cooperating teachers who earned “effective” or higher ratings on their evaluations and have been trained in mentoring, feedback and/or evaluation.

·        Elementary teachers must receive research-based strategies for reading pedagogy and math content on instruction, technology and alignment to Delaware standards.

·        Candidates must have a 3.0 grade point average or be in the top 50 percent of their graduating class in the two most recent years of school or meet the college-ready benchmark on a national assessment, such as the SAT. Programs may waive these requirements for up to 10 percent of students admitted if they provide appropriate supports.

As a result, the Professional Standards Board and State Board of Education, working with the department, have also made changes to licensure and certification, such as:

·        All applicants for initial licensure must pass a content readiness exam and performance assessment in addition to the previous certification requirements.

·        Specialists may use a practicum experience in lieu of student teaching as appropriate in their fields.

·        Applicants for special education certification in elementary and secondary schools also must receive a core content certification.

The new reports provide a way to transparently communicate program reviews with scorecards based on multiple metrics, including:

·        Graduate placement, including rate of placement in Delaware and placement in high-need schools/areas

·        Graduate retention beyond their first year and beyond their third year (still working in public education in Delaware)

·        Outcomes of graduates, including passage rates/scores on licensure assessments, student achievement data, and average observation scores from administrators

The department draws upon performance data from the past five years when generating reports. Historic program performance is utilized in determining appropriate targets for each program metric. Overall, the 2015 results show two programs classified as Tier 1, the highest rating, with seven classified as Tier 2, 21 as Tier 3 and two as Tier 4.  A state summary of all programs is also included in the release. Also included are programs that did not have sufficient data to generate a scorecard. These programs are denoted as either recently established, no longer admitting new candidates, or are seeing low enrollment and/or limited hiring of program graduates in Delaware.


Beginning in 2016, programs could be put on probation if standards are not met or if it is determined that a program is not meeting market needs or not generating sufficient demand from applicants. 


Find more information here.


Alison May
(302) 735-4006