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New rules could govern educator preparation programs

The North Carolina Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC) approved new rules today that will govern the standards educator preparation programs (EPP) will be held to. The rules will go to the State Board of Education for final approval in a phone meeting prior to September 24th. 

Recently adopted legislation, House Bill 107, requires three measures of accountability for educator preparation programs. 

 

Courtesy of DPI

If approved by the State Board of Education, the following data will be collected for each accountability measure: 

  • “Annual Teacher Evaluation – The percent of graduates from the EPP in their first three years of teaching who achieve a rating of ‘proficient,’ ‘accomplished,’ or ‘distinguished’ on each of the North Carolina Educator Evaluation System standards.
  • “Student Growth – The percent of graduates from the EPP in their first three years of teaching who achieve a growth rating of ‘meets expected growth’ or ‘exceeds expected growth’ as measured by the North Carolina Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS). Teachers’ composite EVAAS scores shall be used in the calculation of an EPP’s growth measure. No school-level EVAAS data shall be used for an individual teacher.
  • “Recent Graduate Survey – The percent of respondents from the EPP in their first year of teaching where the graduate perceived that they were ‘well’ or ‘very well’ prepared to carry out key teaching tasks. The recent graduate survey shall capture how well teachers believe they are prepared to meet their responsibilities during their first year on the job. All public school units with a Beginning Teacher Support Program shall require their beginning teachers to participate in the Recent Graduate Survey. The Recent Graduate Survey shall be administered by NCDPI or its designee.”

Using that data, the following threshold scores will be used to measure how well an educator preparation program is doing. 

Courtesy of DPI

The levels in the chart are calculated based on how much above or below the average the scores are. Level 4 is the highest, but the one to pay attention to is level 1. If an EPP doesn’t exceed level 1, program sanctions could ensue. 

And that gets into the tricky problem that some PESPC members discussed at their meeting on Thursday. As previously reported, SB 599, which created the commission, also establishes the sanctions EPPs should face if their scores for these performance measures fall short. 

Courtesy of NCGA

The law requires not only that EPPs as a whole meet certain performance targets, but that subgroups do as well. However, some EPPs have relatively small sex, race, or ethnic subgroups, meaning that poor performance by these groups could lead to EPP sanctions. And that could have unintended consequences, according to commission member Mariah Morris, the NC Teacher of the Year. 

“How is this going to impact our most vulnerable students in low performing schools?” she asked. 

Having taught in both low-performing and high-performing schools, Morris said that it’s easier to do well in high-performing schools that have all the resources and programs students may need. But if a teacher goes to a low-performing school, he or she may score worse through no fault of his or her own, and that could end up reflecting on the EPP and triggering the sanctions — particularly if that teacher belongs to a small subgroup of the teachers that went through that EPP. 

Morris said she worries that, as a result, teachers may be steered toward schools where they’re more likely to perform well. 

“It concerns me about how that’s going to touch our students in areas like Hoke County, Robeson County, where they’re not going to be looked at as positively,” she said. 

Andrew Sioberg, director of educator preparation for DPI, agreed that was a possibility but pointed out that HB 107 provides a possible remedy. 

“The lawmakers set up a system, an accountability system, and then allowed for this group, with the inclusion of stakeholder input, to come up with what I hope to be a more robust … perspective of the pipeline,” he said. 

The law directs the State Board of Education to come up with “a formulaic, performance-based weighted model for the purposes of comparing the annual report card information between each educator preparation program…” A subcommittee of the commission is hard at work doing this and plans to have some options ready before the due date in February. Developing such a system could allow the state to make sure some criteria carries more weight than others when evaluating EPPs, and this could lighten the load when it comes to how schools are sanctioned. 

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.