Although states and the federal government look to a variety of evaluation systems for teacher training programs on the presumption the rankings are based on hard evidence of quality, a study suggests the leading services frequently fail to consider the true complexity of determining if pre-professional programs actually are working.

The study evaluated four accreditation ranking systems commonly used in the United States and determined the majority lacked clear evidence-based policies. Boston College, where the study was conducted, looked into the accreditation process of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the National Council for Teacher Quality’s (NCTQ) Teacher Prep Review, the edTPA, which is required for licensing teachers in many states, and the U.S. Department of Education's annual state and institutional reporting requirements.

“We concluded there is good reason to question their validity as policy instruments that will improve teacher education quality and teacher quality,” Marilyn Cochran-Smith, the lead author of the study, said in a press release .

Those services report to state and federal policymakers and can determine whether a program is worth keeping open. But, among the first three three, the study found there was little evidence policy proposals on which they base their ratings actually improve the outcome for teachers-in-training. The study noted edTPA is based more on evidence than the others; however, implementing it on a widespread basis likely would be challenging.

The researchers also learned teacher quality in those training programs is likely less of a force in reducing educational inequality within the institution. It is likely, according to the study, that other out-of-class factors play a much bigger role.

There are more than 2,000 teacher training programs in universities and colleges throughout the United States . And, just like any degree, the cost of the programs varies widely from tens of thousands of dollars for a complete program to hundreds of thousands at private universities.