• AACTE 70th Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD

Archive for March, 2016

Study: Evidence ‘Thin’ for Key Accountability Efforts—Except for edTPA

A new policy brief out of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) reviews the evidentiary base underlying four national initiatives for teacher preparation program accountability and finds that only one of them—the beginning-teacher performance assessment edTPA—is founded on claims supported by research. The other three mechanisms included in the study are the state and institutional reporting requirements under the Higher Education Act (HEA), the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) standards and system, and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) Teacher Prep Review.

Holding Teacher Preparation Accountable: A Review of Claims and Evidence, conducted by Marilyn Cochran-Smith and colleagues at Boston College (MA), investigated two primary questions: What claims does each initiative make about how it contributes to the preparation of high-quality teachers? And is there evidence that supports these claims? In addition, researchers looked at the initiatives’ potential to meet their shared goal of reducing educational inequity.

Deans for Impact Policy Agenda Calls for Better Data Access

Navigating the opportunities and challenges that new data sources and reporting requirements present was a frequent theme at this year’s AACTE Annual Meeting. In one well-attended session, representatives of the group Deans for Impact (DFI) released their latest policy paper, From Chaos to Coherence: A Policy Agenda for Accessing and Using Outcomes Data in Educator Preparation, also described here on the DFI blog. (You may recall that DFI, started in 2015 by Benjamin Riley when he left the New Schools Venture Fund, shares AACTE’s commitment to using outcomes-focused data to inform and improve educator preparation. Its 22 member deans include 15 from current AACTE member institutions, many of whom serve or have served on AACTE committees and in other leadership roles.)

The brief calls on policy makers to make better data on graduates’ performance in the field available to programs—an important priority that resonates across the educator preparation profession. As the report notes, despite widespread calls for connecting evidence of new teachers’ effectiveness back to their preparation programs, “there has been no coordinated effort to provide these programs with valid, reliable, timely, and comparable data about the [educators] they prepare” (p. 2). Individual institutions, state university systems, AACTE state chapters and their leadership group, and our accreditor have all called attention to this persistent problem.

Holmes Scholars Give, Receive Much at AACTE

During last month’s AACTE Annual Meeting, the Holmes Program preconference events brought together 74 Holmes Scholars, at least 15 coordinators, and numerous alumni from across the nation. The events, facilitated by the Holmes Scholars Council, AACTE, and the National Association of Holmes Scholars Alumni (NAHSA), included participants from 17 member institutions, more than a dozen presenters, and the program’s first cohort of undergraduate students, known as Holmes Honors students. Attendees shared their research, held a variety of formal and informal meetings, and elected new leaders for the coming year.

While attending, we observed the act of relationship building during program sessions and after hours where the new relations began to take root. Participants were clearly excited about the opportunities to connect with peers from around the nation and to participate in conference sessions that were inspiring and powerful. Representatives from AACTE and NAHSA answered what seemed like endless inquiries about program implementation and growth strategies. Considering the overall feedback from participants, all in attendance walked away with a wealth of knowledge as well as new friends and colleagues.

Pecheone Encourages Teacher Educators to Embrace National Dialogue

The growing conversation, contentious or not, in the teacher preparation community at large about how to prepare great educators is good for the profession and PK-12 students—and is also helping to improve edTPA support and assessment, Stanford University’s Ray Pecheone told 350 educators at the recent AACTE Annual Meeting.

Pecheone, executive director of the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE), said during the February 25 edTPA breakfast session, “The fact that the profession is having this dialogue about what makes an effective teacher is critical. Engage it! Embrace it! Through this dialogue edTPA has gotten better. It’s a continuous improvement model.”

As Global Engagement Grows, AACTE Explores New Initiatives

Did you know that AACTE has a growing international footprint? Although “American” is our first name and our membership is primarily domestic, the world is watching—and engaging—more widely, especially online.

We recently explored who is engaging with AACTE from around the world and discovered audiences in more than two dozen countries are visiting our web sites, connecting with us via social media, or accessing the Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) online.

During 2015, the most frequent visitors were from the following countries:

Preparing and Retaining Effective Special Education Teachers: Systemic Solutions for Addressing Teacher Shortages

The views expressed in this brief are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Pending shortages of special education teachers have many states and local districts scrambling to find solutions for securing the teachers they need. Some states are proposing incentives for recruiting special education teachers (as well as teachers in other high-need areas) and reducing requirements for entry into the classroom. Others are looking for alternative ways of preparing teachers in high-need areas. Quick routes to the classroom and incentives such as signing bonuses will do little to solve the shortage problem in the long term. At best, they create a revolving door, because unprepared special education teachers are more likely to leave teaching. At worst, they exacerbate the problem. Instead, a more systemic approach to solving the teacher shortage problem in special education is needed—one that will increase the likelihood that an adequate supply of fully prepared special education teachers enters the classroom and remains there.

Town Hall Meeting Engages AACTE Members, Leaders on Hot Issues

Members of the AACTE Executive Committee held a Town Hall Meeting February 24 at the AACTE 68th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, providing updates to the membership on key work of the Association and answering questions submitted by the audience on various programmatic and professional issues.

AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson opened the session with her annual “state of the Association” report. She announced that membership numbers are up to 823 institutional and 32 affiliate members and that several exciting new initiatives are under way—replacing or updating others to be more responsive to member needs. The long-operating Professional Education Data System (PEDS), for example, is now suspended in favor of a new data initiative that will aggregate and report on existing data sets, create benchmarking potential for programs, and more.

NNSTOY Releases Report on Teacher Leadership

A new study from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) introduces compelling research on the characteristics of teacher leaders and factors that challenge or support them. The report, Great to Influential: Teacher Leaders’ Roles in Supporting Instruction, follows up on the 2014 study From Good to Great: Exemplary Teachers Share Perspectives on Increasing Teacher Effectiveness Across the Career Continuum. In light of the new study’s findings, the report suggests strategies for school districts to capitalize on the assets presented by teacher leaders, ranging from providing broader career path options to increasing their interaction with preservice and novice educators.

Educators, Media Professionals Discuss ‘Digital Divide’ at AACTE Forum

AACTE’s 2016 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, addressed the demands of professional practice and the tough questions that face educators on a variety of fronts. On February 24, the editors of the Journal of Teacher Education (JTE)chose to focus their major forum on “Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide: Challenges for Teacher Education,” bringing together panelists from around the country who are working to close opportunity gaps for young people relative to—and through—the use of technology.

After JTE Coeditor Gail Richmond of Michigan State University introduced the panelists, the discussion started with Hardin Coleman, dean and professor in the School of Education at Boston University (MA). He spoke about shared characteristics of gap-closing schools, accreditation standards, and the steps he sees as necessary to close the technological gap. Coleman suggested focusing on the role of educators in the gap-closing process, deep engagement with educational partners, and supporting the systems of data that will inform progress. He championed efforts to create education systems that will provide a high-quality learning experience for all children.

AACTE Welcoming Session Reframes Effective Teaching for Equity

The Welcoming Session kicked off the AACTE 68th Annual Meeting with a keynote from Pedro Noguera, distinguished professor at the University of California Los Angeles and one of the nation’s most important voices on education and equity issues.

Noguera challenged the audience to take a closer look at what it means to be a highly effective teacher. As the American student population becomes increasingly diverse and opportunities remain profoundly unequal, he argued that more teachers must have the ability to teach effectively across race, class, language, and cultural differences.

“The best teachers teach the way students learn rather than expecting students to learn the way they teach,” Noguera said.

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