Professor of Teacher Education and Special Education, University of Washington
’Twixt Scylla and Charybdis: Navigating the Paradoxes of Data Use, Accountability, and Program Improvement
Academic leaders in teacher education are currently faced with unprecedented policy pressures related to collecting, reporting, and acting on an intensifying array of program outcome measures. Moreover, many of the state and federal policies driving these pressures are saturated with paradox, attempting to address multiple and often contradictory goals. Perhaps the most fundamental of these is related to the essential tension between policy goals related to identifying and eliminating “low-performing programs,” and those related to “program improvement.” Coping with contradictory discourses and policies related to accountability, program improvement, and “data use” has become one of the facts of life experienced by virtually all contemporary teacher educators.
This summer, Chief Representatives at 400 randomly selected AACTE member institutions are participating in a survey on data use in their teacher preparation programs. If your institution has been invited but has not yet participated, please complete the survey to inform our future technical assistance and other member services around data use.
Each survey respondent receives an Amazon gift card as a token of appreciation. What’s more, some participants report a benefit from the survey itself. One dean said the survey “posed so many great, thoughtful questions and really forced me to think through our programs and how we are/are not using data effectively.
In the next few days, Chief Representatives at 400 randomly selected AACTE member institutions will receive an invitation from the Association to complete a survey on data use in their teacher preparation programs.
As readers of this blog know, teacher preparation institutions are under increasing pressure to provide data on the effectiveness of their programs and to use these data to make decisions about ongoing program improvement. However, a growing body of research shows that using data to make decisions about policy and practice involves much more than collecting, aggregating, and analyzing information. In order to understand what it takes to go from collecting to effectively using data, AACTE and the University of Washington have been collaborating over the last 2 years on a Spencer Foundation-sponsored project focused on describing how teacher education programs are learning to use new sources of outcome data for the purposes of program improvement.