How Tennessee is Leading the Nation in Educator Preparation

By Candice McQueen, Tennessee Commissioner of Education

Today, the United States Department of Education released new teacher preparation regulations. Read how Tennessee has been at the forefront of this work for the past decade, and how we will continue this work in the future.

We have been extensively engaging with the educator preparation community, teachers, districts, and other stakeholders for several years – with even more intensity and focus during the last 18 months. Together, we reached a shared vision for educator preparation in Tennessee. First, we believe a more rigorous process of approving educator preparation providers supports the continuous improvement of preparation programs in the work of developing teachers and leaders who are able to effectively educate students. Second, we have agreed on quality indicators for educator preparation programs and believe public transparency on these indicators is vital to success.

We continue to deeply engage with our higher education and district partners, including through a conversation Governor Haslam will host later this fall with higher education presidents. In addition, our partners at the State Board of Education, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and the State Collaborative on Reforming Education are working with the department and our educator preparation partners to continue to guide and support high expectations and the work ahead.

From that vision, we have launched multiple initiatives aimed at strengthening the educator pipeline and teaching profession as a whole—with the ultimate goal of ensuring each Tennessee child has a chance to receive a world-class education, no matter where they live.

  • Regina Peery2 (640x427)For the last several years, our state has published annual teacher preparation report cards with key measures of program outcomes and impact, which aim to provide insight into programs’ effectiveness. This year, the department and state board partnered to refine the report card and include additional metrics, and starting next year, we are adding a set of annual reports that will be specifically designed to support continuous improvement and will meet the federal reporting requirements. The new annual reports will include multiple outcome- and impact-focused metrics: recruitment and selection, placement, retention, completer satisfaction, employer satisfaction, academic outcomes (e.g., graduation rates/assessment data), overall teacher evaluation ratings, observation ratings, and individual growth score ratings.
  • Perhaps most importantly, we are now focused on engaging with stakeholders to ensure that educator preparation providers are supported in using this data to drive continuous improvement.
  • The data from these reports will not only inform the public, including potential teacher candidates who are considering applying to certain programs, but it will also help to drive an interim review process that will help the department better identify and help to strengthen educator preparation programs in a more cohesive timely way if programs do not meet expectations.
  • In addition, our state is working diligently to ensure that Tennessee educator preparation is leading the nation through rigorous standards, especially in literacy instruction, which is a state priority; high-quality, mutually-beneficial partnerships with districts; and strong assessment systems that help to ensure teacher candidates are ready.
  • Finally, using internal and external research opportunities, specifically in partnership with Vanderbilt University through the new Tennessee Education Research Alliance, Tennessee aims to better understand those characteristics of educator preparation that lead to the production of effective educators.

calliehodgecandid1We believe this work is a core part of our role as a K-12 system. Ensuring we have college- and career-ready students and developing a well-educated, well-skilled workforce hinges on having highly effective educators. Educator preparation is a key lever in sustaining and growing the progress we have made in Tennessee. We are committed to continuing to push our programs to rigorous expectations as we create more high-quality programs – the students in Tennessee deserve nothing less. Today’s new HEA – Title II expectations simply reflect the direction we have been heading for a number of years.