Author Archive

Kristin McCabe

Editor, AACTE

Countries With High-Performing Students Have Strong Teacher Professional Learning

Two new studies commissioned by the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) credit the collaborative professional learning of teachers in British Columbia, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore with their students’ strong performance on international assessments. NCEE’s Center on International Education Benchmarking organized a half-day forum last month featuring panel discussions of these countries’ policies that support such systems—and what lessons the United States should draw from them.

Rather than treating professional development as an add-on program such as monthly workshops, the studies say, successful education systems embed it broadly. Teacher-led collaborative learning is deliberately planned into structures such as well-defined career ladders, mentorship programs, and schools’ daily schedules. Although some of these features can be found in U.S. districts, none is widely used or as robust as described in the reports, and panelists advocated for a stronger systems approach.

November/December JTE Looks at Improvement Science for Teacher Development

Are you looking to catch up on your reading over the holiday break? While you wait for the new issue of the Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) to arrive, here are some highlights of the current issue—which is also the final one edited by Stephanie Knight and her editorial team at Pennsylvania State University. (And the new editors at Michigan State University are eager to bring you their first issue in January!)


Containing general-topic articles as well as a special section addressing the theme of “Improvement Science for Teacher Professional Development,” the November/December 2015 issue is available online here. The theme section draws on the major forum organized by the JTE editors at the 2015 AACTE Annual Meeting (see video of the forum here) and is guest-edited by Paul LeMahieu, Ann Edwards, and Louis Gomez of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

This month’s editorial offers a peek behind the editorial curtain with a 5-year retrospective on Penn State’s term serving the journal. The editors provide a frank analysis of their work and insightful observations about challenges faced by the field related to rigor and relevance in teacher education research. They also include their usual overview of the current issue, which features the following articles:

ESEA Reauthorization Wins Mixed Praise

On December 10, President Obama signed into law the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—now titled the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The long-overdue reauthorization is being heralded as the end of the heavy-handed No Child Left Behind era, returning much of the authority to states and local agencies to oversee PK-12 education. But like any law of such great scope, this one has plenty of contentious content, and education organizations are offering decidedly mixed reviews.

In its statement on the passage of ESSA, the Coalition for Teaching Quality (of which AACTE is a founding member) said, “While the Coalition appreciates ESSA’s efforts to strengthen the capacity of states and districts to improve teacher quality, the bill unfortunately reflects a significant step back for many of our nation’s neediest students by eliminating a meaningful minimum entry standard for teachers and the need for states and districts to correct ongoing inequities in access to high-quality teachers.”

Take What You Need With AACTE Online Seminars

Did you know that AACTE’s six Online Professional Seminars (OPSs) can be taken in any order? In fact, the seminars have no prerequisites, meaning you can skip what you already know and jump right in to the professional learning you need most.

Or are you looking for a well-rounded understanding of assessment and accreditation issues for educator development, program improvement, and quality assurance systems? Then start from the beginning and run through the complete sequence of courses.

Offered through AACTE’s Quality Support Initiative, the seminars are scheduled to be not only flexible but also convenient. Each course is completed asynchronously over a 3- to 4-week period, and multiple session options let you work around your schedule. We’ll be starting several course sections this month, including some that run over the holidays, if that suits your needs—see the current schedule of available dates.

NCES Report: Most New Teachers Stay in the Classroom

A new study out of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) helps debunk the oft-repeated assumption that half of new teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years. Overall, some 77% of participants in the Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study continued teaching for 5 straight years, and the rate was even higher (80%) for those who had a mentor or participated in an induction program—just two of the many influences on teachers’ career paths studied for the report.

Career Paths of Beginning Public School Teachers first scrutinizes both broad and detailed career paths of 155,600 teachers who began their classroom career in the 2007-08 academic year. Then it looks at a subset of 1,440 teachers’ characteristics in their first and in their final year of teaching, covering personal demographics, student and school factors, and professional preparation and in-school supports.

NPBEA Approves Revised Standards for School Leaders

Last week, the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) voted unanimously to approve revised standards for education leaders. The 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, formerly known as the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards, are currently available in summary form and will be published officially next month.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which owns the standards’ copyright, worked closely with other members of NPBEA to refresh the ISLLC standards, which were first published in 1996 and last updated in 2008. The revision was supported by a grant from the Wallace Foundation and informed by multiple public comment periods and focus groups, culminating in an NPBEA working group charged with finalizing the standards based on feedback from more than 1,000 principals, superintendents, and others in the field.

Video Highlights Program Preparing Teachers for Diverse Students, Settings

A new video in AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series shows education leaders from Fort Collins High School and Colorado State University discussing their work to prepare teacher candidates for special education situations and other diverse student needs. From understanding IEPs to tapping school-based counseling resources to differentiating instruction in both mainstreamed and self-contained classrooms, the program strives to expose candidates to a wide variety of students and settings, say Josh Richey, dean of students at the high school, and Wendy Fothergill and Juliana Searle, program advisers.

Today’s classrooms are more diverse than ever, and educator preparation programs such as those at Colorado State University (CSU) strive to give prospective teachers experiences across varied communities, in different school models, and with a broad range of students, including those with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for special education.

New Research-Based Resources Support Teacher Preparation

Teacher educators and teacher candidates have new resources in two high-level summaries of the research on learning. By distilling and organizing the existing research on cognitive science and educational psychology, the reports offer teacher candidates concise summaries of high-impact practices grounded in scientific evidence and professional consensus around PK-12 learning. Teacher preparation programs might find them valuable as resources to tie together learning science concepts that are integrated across multiple courses.

New Think Tank Seeks to Inform Education Policy With Timely Research

A new nonprofit think tank led by Linda Darling-Hammond launched last week, aiming to inform education-related policies by sponsoring high-quality research on timely topics and making the findings easy to access and interpret. This Learning Policy Institute will target PK-12 policies at the federal, state, and local level and will both examine existing studies and conduct or sponsor new research to meet pressing needs for student learning.

In her Huffington Post article announcing the initiative, Darling-Hammond pledges to prioritize whatever works best for students over any partisan agenda. “We will follow the evidence wherever it leads, and will work with those of any political affiliation or point of view who share that commitment,” she writes.

Community Opportunities: USED Bus Tour Coming Sept. 14-18

Get ready to connect with your communities this month around the U.S. Department of Education’s 2015 “Ready for Success” bus tour, making stops in 10 cities September 14-18.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other senior officials will hold events in schools, universities, and other education settings to celebrate efforts to improve educational access and opportunity. Each “bus stop” will spotlight a different topic, ranging from college access and affordability to teacher leadership, disability resources, and technology.

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