Not all teaching programs are created equal and the lack of transparency on the preparedness of future teachers attending university in Kansas could prevent teaching candidates from selecting a program that is best for them. A new study by the National Council on Teacher Quality shows Kansas is one of the many states that does not require public reporting of pass rates at the state, institutional or program level.

The only requirement for reporting is tied to something called pass completer data. This data is required as result of the Title II of the Higher Education Act, which requires universities report ‘program completers.’ The term refers to teacher candidates who finish course work and complete exam.

Yet, there is no requirement for data to be published on the pass rate, which can illustrate the effectiveness of a teaching program. The lack of transparency on pass rate data could actually hurt the teacher candidates that the licensure test is supposed to help according to Elizabeth Ross, NCTQ lead author on the study.

“It can be very challenging for teacher candidates to make smart decision about where they want to send tuition dollars when they are investing in themselves and in getting an education,” says Ross.

Teacher exam data in higher education in the United States has been an area where there has not been a lot of transparency according to Ross.

“Historically this has been an area where there has not been a lot of high quality information,” says Ross. “We do know that within an institution, and then within a state, program quality and institution quality differ dramatically.”

State representative and licensed teacher Kristey Williams (R-Augusta) knows the pitfalls of teacher training. She says she is for more transparency on pass rate reporting, but says it is not the ultimate determination of teacher quality.

“I find nothing wrong with the transparency. I just find the skill and craft of teaching cannot be taught to some degree,” says Williams.

Yet, Williams notes there is a lack of transparency in educational data in state, which could be an issue.

“Having chaired the budget committee, there is an overwhelming lack of information. It’s not that the information and the data is not available, it is available, but it’s either provided in such a way that is not easy to access or to compare and contrast, or it’s not provided at all,” says Williams.

NCTQ believes publicly available pass rates make it easier for students to choose programs for teacher candidates to attend and help hold institutions accountable.

“As the cost of higher education sky rockets, and consumers, i.e., students themselves and in the case of teacher preparation, teacher candidates, become more interested in trying to determine the value add of one program as compared to another,” says Ross.

Ross says assessment companies and states maintain data around which types of candidates are passing, how many tries it is taking candidates to pass and which aspiring teachers are not passing. NTCQ advocates for that data to be made available to the public.

“There are some problem in education that we simply do not know how to solve. This is not one of them,” says Ross.

How Kansas compares

NCTQ says 22 states (shown here in green) require elementary candidates to pass a test demonstrating sufficient content knowledge in math, English language arts, science and social studies.  Neighboring states of Missouri and Colorado are among those 22 states.  Oklahoma is one of the 13 states that require passage of a test covering at two of those content areas.  NCTQ is reviewing elementary test requirements in Kansas and Maryland to determine whether their tests sufficiently assess candidates’ content knowledge.

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