Are Delaware Teacher Prep Programs Top Tier?

November 30th, 2016

Category: News, Policy and Practice


The highest possible rating is Tier 1. The lowest possible rating is Tier 4.

In November, the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) released new and improved Teacher Preparation Program Reports. These reports are a part of the effort to improve the quality and transparency of teacher preparation programs in Delaware. This year, four out of 30 Delaware programs* received the highest possible rating—Tier 1.


Here is our breakdown of three critical questions:

  • Why do these reports matter?
  • What has changed?
  • What opportunities lie ahead?


* Each Delaware institute of higher education may offer multiple teacher prep “programs”—ranging from a bachelor’s in early childhood education through a master’s in secondary teaching.




  1. Teachers Matter – As we noted in our blog last year, teachers are the most important in-school factor driving student achievement. And these new teachers also represent the pipeline for the second most important in-school factor to a child’s education: our school leaders.


Moreover, Delaware spends a large portion of its $1.5 billion education budget on the people working in our schools, so it makes sense to try to determine how we can make sure our educators are ready to go when they enter our schools.


  1. Public Transparency & Continuous Improvement – These reports provide schools, academics, aspiring teachers, and public officials critical information, to more effectively identify strong programs and engage in a continuous improvement process.


  1. Program Renewal – Program renewal means a program has been re-authorized by the state to award graduates a teaching credential—qualifying the graduate to become a teacher in Delaware. It also has implications for funding. Each program receives a summative Tier rating determining the program’s renewal status (e.g. Tier 1 and Tier 2 programs are automatically renewed). This year, while the majority of programs were renewed, five programs are either on probation or under further review.




  • From Criticism to Collaboration – Responding to last year’s criticism from teacher preparation programs about the strength of data metrics, DDOE is also working more collaboratively with prep programs to improve on data reporting. This includes ongoing meetings with stakeholders from teacher prep programs to continue to refine data collection and support program reports.


  • Data 2.0. – While there is still room to improve, collaboration has produced more robust data metrics.
    • Newly available survey data and refined metrics – There is newly available qualitative data on perceptions of how well programs prepared teachers to enter the classroom. Additionally, several of the metrics were refined in response to preparation program feedback, including the diversity of program candidates, candidate academic strength, and graduate placement.


  • New mechanisms for data collection allow for Delaware to collect better information on programs and better track graduates across state lines.




Big picture, Delaware is on-track to meet federal requirements that will go into effect in 2018 and require states to report annual data on educator preparation programs. However, more work is needed to refine the report data metrics and take action to leverage these reports to drive continuous improvement. DDOE has already announced two upcoming opportunities:


  1. Innovation Grants (Winter 2017) – DDOE is launching innovation grants for district/higher-education partnerships to improve teacher preparation.


  1. Teacher Prep Event (Feb/March 2017) – DDOE partnering with the Delaware Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (DACTE) for an educator preparation event.

Liz Hoyt and Shyanne Miller



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