I want to congratulate the organizers of the recent Mid-Atlantic edTPA Implementation Conference at Towson University (MD) for doing something that should be standard at educator preparation conferences: They included PK-12 partners in the conversation and created a high-profile opportunity for them to tell their stories. To accomplish this goal, the National Education Association worked with conference organizers to set up a panel discussion, inviting teacher candidates and teachers to participate and asking me to facilitate.
The conversation at the conference provided authentic educator perspectives on recent experiences with edTPA. Here are my five top takeaways from the conversation.
I recently had the pleasure and honor of delivering the keynote address for the 2015 edTPA Mid-Atlantic Implementation Conference in Towson, Maryland. As a longtime supporter and champion of observation- and performance-based educator preparation and assessment, I was eager to share with peers from across the nation who are at different places on their journey with edTPA.
First, I wanted to commend each person for being there. By the virtue of their attendance and leadership, participants were helping shift the negative tone of dialogue around teacher preparation by highlighting innovative practices and committing to positive change. At the core of the narrative is a shared rallying call to ensure each teacher candidate enters tomorrow’s classroom ready to teach.
A double narrative dominates contemporary discussions of teacher quality, leading to often-contradictory policies that stymie reform efforts. First is the democratic imperative to provide equitable access to a quality education to all students, which calls for broadening the diversity of the teaching force to better reflect student demographics. Second is the push for tightening quality controls such as GPA and testing requirements in teacher preparation programs, which results in a considerably less diverse teaching pool. AACTE Holmes Scholars learned about this paradox firsthand earlier this month during Washington Week as they explored the themes of diversity, equity, access, and accountability with a variety of guest speakers from national organizations.
During AACTE’s 2015 Washington Week, we were among a dozen AACTE Holmes Scholars® attending a 3-day Summer Policy Institute that promoted mentorship and support while introducing participants to the national education policy scene. In addition to meeting with policy makers and leaders of various educational organizations, Scholars engaged in a site visit June 9 to the U.S. Department of Education.
A healthy organization works to articulate its mission and meet the needs of its members, and that’s just what AACTE did during this year’s Washington Week. We recently returned home from AACTE’s State Leaders Institute (SLI), where we collaborated with chapter leaders and members from various states, June 9-10, followed by advocacy activities at Day on the Hill, June 10-11.
The SLI agenda included updates on the national and regional landscapes of teacher education, accreditation, and capacity building. AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson provided her perspective about the state of the organization and introduced AACTE’s new online professional seminars related to assessment and use of data for improvement. SLI was a great opportunity for us to engage in conversations about regulations, state chapter issues, and increasing the level of engagement in order to enhance teacher preparation.
AACTE’s Washington Week kicked off with diverse perspectives, enlightening anecdotes, and compelling conversations at the special conference “Progress and Factors That Contribute to Closing the STEM Achievement Gap,” sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Five presenters joined AACTE leaders on two panels discussing ways to improve learning outcomes of underrepresented populations in the STEM fields.
The conference began with presenters Armando Sanchez-Martinez, manager of Editorial Santillana in Mexico, and Vasanta Akondy, co-manager of the Verizon Innovative Learning Program (VILP), who together provided a global perspective on innovative solutions to increase access to STEM education in Mexico and India.
Sanchez-Martinez presented a comprehensive look into Mexico’s educational landscape, including a detailed explanation of sociocultural factors that contribute to local achievement gaps and of the current educational movements and solutions to closing the gap. Akondy highlighted the importance of VILP and its efforts to recruit more girls in India into the STEM fields. The aim of this program is to provide a community network of support while focusing on student engagement and providing technological resources to underfunded schools.
More than 100 teacher educators, students, and partners convened in Washington, DC, last week for AACTE’s Day on the Hill, bringing the voice of the profession to members of Congress. The event was held June 10-11 as part of AACTE’s Washington Week.
Day on the Hill began with a half-day orientation that explored participants’ role in advocating and advancing the profession. To prepare attendees for engaging with members of Congress and their staff, the afternoon started with an update on education-related activity on Capitol Hill from Deborah Koolbeck, AACTE’s director of government relations. Koolbeck also reviewed talking points provided by AACTE and discussed strategies for choosing the most effective talking points to use in various meetings with policy makers.
Throughout AACTE’s Washington Week, June 9-11, the theme “Diverse Perspectives, Deep Partnerships, One Profession” permeated each event, motivating attendees to forge and nurture bonds that will strengthen the profession. From the emerging leaders attending the Holmes Scholars Summer Policy Institute to the chapter executives at the State Leaders Institute, and from the STEM conference through Day on the Hill, participants connected with peers, policy makers, and partners around common goals and interests.
On Wednesday, June 17, the Education Policy Center (EPC) at the American Institutes for Research will host a Twitter chat, “Preparing a Million New Teachers,” to discuss whether educator preparation programs are up to the challenge of producing a well-prepared workforce. You can lend your voice to the chat by following and tagging #EPCchat on Twitter, starting tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. EDT.
Today, AACTE’s Washington Week kicks off with a full lineup of interactive sessions, discussions, and advocacy around educator preparation. In addition to our traditional advocacy-focused events, we are hosting a special conference this afternoon on closing the student achievement gap in the critical subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, today’s conference will feature a multidisciplinary group of education researchers, practitioners, and scientists who will share their theoretical approaches and successful models for promoting the STEM achievement. The panelists will also discuss how to build collaborative, interdisciplinary partnerships for addressing the U.S. achievement gap in STEM subjects—drawing on international lessons—as well as ways to improve learning outcomes of underrepresented populations in the STEM fields.