Editor’s Note: This blog is based on a July 22 article in Teachers College Record (TCR). The full version is available here. The original article was written in response to a previously published TCR piece about edTPA.
We have been immersed in edTPA implementation for several years as the lead administrators for implementation support in Illinois and as scorers and scoring trainers. We have been committed to moving beyond compliance with state policy to using edTPA as a positive support for critical inquiry by faculty into teaching and learning.
The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Teacher education is entering an exciting era. Scholars and practitioners alike are calling for teachers to be educated differently (AACTE, 2010; CCSSO, 2015; NCATE, 2010), which means that the way we prepare teachers and the way we support teachers’ ongoing professional development must change. In lieu of one-size-fits-all, “sit and get” training sessions, teachers’ professional development must be ongoing, differentiated, sustained, and rooted in issues that they face on a daily basis. Such is the experience for the teachers of Mort Elementary School in Hillsborough County Public Schools (the 8th largest school district in the United States) who participate in the Mort Teacher Leader Academy (MTLA).
Early in my academic career as a faculty member, the Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (IACTE) was referred to as "the deans group." Its meetings were attended primarily by those holding administrative positions, which did not include me. Still, I got to work with IACTE during this time: I had been appointed by the governor to the Indiana Professional Standards Board (IPSB) for teacher education and licensure, which worked collaboratively with IACTE on developing new standards-based licensure and assessments. At a time when teacher education was truly valued in the state, our joint efforts placed Indiana as one of the front runners in best practices in teacher preparation and the use of performance-based assessments.
As the first cohort of leaders embarks on their course of study with the new AASA Urban Superintendents Academy at Howard University and the University of Southern California, we are thrilled to see this promising work come to life. Urban districts desperately need forward-thinking leaders, particularly those from underrepresented demographic groups, prepared to be barrier-busting champions for every student in their care.
Following an intensive kick-off conference later this month, participants in the Academy—predominantly from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups—will spend the academic year undertaking internships in the field, focusing on problems of practice under the guidance of experienced mentors, and taking graduate courses at the university before completing culminating projects. These participants, in-service administrators who want to enrich their field experience and training for urban settings or prospective superintendents, will be prepared for certification through the program.
What is so promising about the Academy?
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.
Last week, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law Senate Bill 511, which establishes the Teach Nevada scholarship for students interested in completing PK-12 educator preparation programs throughout the state. Sponsored by Governor Sandoval and passed by the State Assembly on the last day of the 2015 session of the Nevada legislature, this bill devotes $2.5 million to student scholarships in each year of the coming biennium. An additional appropriation of $5 million per fiscal year provides funding for Nevada districts to provide financial incentives for new teacher hires.
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 just hosted another great Washington Week! This was my third year attending the State Leaders Institute (SLI), and I’m always amazed at how much I learn about what is happening at the federal level and in other states, how other state associations are supporting teacher and leader preparation that will positively affect student learning, and how they are facing and addressing the challenges that are impacting our profession.
All regions of the country were represented during the June 9-10 institute, and as stories were shared, I believe we came to deeper understanding about the uniqueness of our respective states—and, perhaps more importantly, about the ways we are similar and how those similarities can help us frame a common message.