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Member Voices: Bringing Teacher Educators to the ESSA Implementation Table

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

In December 2015, I published an op-ed in the Washington Post in which I discussed my concerns with some of the teacher education provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). I focused my comments on a section within the law that gives states the authority to use some of their Title II funds to establish “teacher preparation academies.” These academies would, in my opinion, lower standards for preparing teachers and would also support a general downward spiral in standards beyond the academies that would weaken public education.

The academies provision is the most prescriptive option under Title II and could require states to change laws that would lower standards for teacher education programs. For example, if states choose to support teacher preparation academies, then they would not be allowed to place any “unnecessary restrictions on the methods of the academy” which includes requiring faculty to have advanced degrees or placing any restrictions on undergraduate or professional course work. While it is not certain that programs with lower standards would be funded under the academy provision, this option opens the door to that possibility.

Stories of Impact: Preparing STEM Teachers to Serve High-Need Schools in Georgia

Ed Prep Matters is featuring “Stories of Impact” to showcase AACTE member institutions with educator preparation programs that are making a positive impact in their communities and beyond through innovative practices. We are committed to sharing members’ success stories and encourage you to do the same.

It’s no secret that Georgia, like many states throughout our nation, struggles to recruit highly qualified teachers committed to serving students in high-need schools in urban and rural communities—especially in math, science, and special education. When you take into consideration the state’s explosive population growth over the last several years, one-third of new teachers leaving the profession within 3 to 5 years, and a large number of retiring teachers, it is imperative that institutions responsible for teacher preparation work together to find a solution to the staffing crisis.

Reconceptualizing Teaching and Learning: The 2016 National Educational Technology Plan

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology released the 2016 National Educational Technology Plan, titled Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education. Billed as the nation’s “flagship educational technology policy document,” the plan contains specific recommendations for teacher preparation programs relative to its “vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere-all-the-time learning possible.” For this article, AACTE asked two of our field’s leaders on the topic to reflect on the plan and its relevance for educator preparation providers.

Since 2000, the AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology has hosted an annual leadership summit for the presidents of a dozen teacher educator associations and editors of educational technology journals, who together comprise the National Technology Leadership Coalition. This summit in Washington, DC, provides a unique forum for interdisciplinary planning focused on technology and teacher preparation. Sharon Robinson, president and CEO of AACTE, recently wrote of the coalition, “Rather than reacting to new technologies, members of [the coalition] sought to shape them by partnering with developers to include discipline-specific pedagogical considerations.”

Stories of Impact: University of Nevada, Reno Responds to Local Workforce Needs

Ed Prep Matters is featuring “Stories of Impact” to showcase AACTE member institutions with educator preparation programs that are making a positive impact in their communities and beyond through innovative practices. We are committed to sharing members’ success stories and encourage you to do the same.

Teacher shortage is an issue nationwide but especially in Nevada, where 955 classrooms were without licensed teachers at the start of the 2015-16 school year. Now with engineering and technology giants Tesla and Switch establishing a strong presence in northern Nevada, top-quality teachers are in more demand than ever in our community.

Tennessee EPPs Optimistic About Changes to State Report Card

On December 2, 2015, the members of the Tennessee Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (TACTE) held their collective breath as the Tennessee State Board of Education released the 2015 Report Card on the Effectiveness of Teacher Training Programs. After 5 years of publicity nightmares as programs’ ratings and rankings received widespread media attention, would this year’s report be any better?

Back in 2007, the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation requiring the publication of a report on the effectiveness of educator preparation programs (EPPs) throughout the state. The report was to provide the following information on program graduates: placement and retention rates, Praxis II scores, and teacher effect data based on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS). Meghan Curran, director of Tennessee’s First to the Top programs, noted, “It is our intent that the report cards will help institutions identify both what they do well and where there is room for growth based on the outputs of their graduates.”

Telling Our Story: Political Advocacy in Massachusetts

Political advocacy was the focus of much work this fall for the Massachusetts Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE). The national attention to teacher preparation policy, from the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to the proposed teacher preparation program regulations, inspired our state chapter to respond in a big way. We were—and are—determined to tell our story.

As a first step, the MACTE Executive Board created a “take home document” to educate our elected officials, highlighting some of the current work of member institutions. We pointed out initiatives and programs that were specifically developed to meet the greatest needs of our PK-12 partners and, ultimately, the needs of the students in the commonwealth. To compile this document, we put a call out to all of our member institutions to tell us what they were doing across five main focus areas:

‘No Hoop Jumping Allowed’—Embedding New Pragmatic Expectations in Existing Practice

Although we may not have read it in a while or considered it with a lot of thought, we all have a conceptual framework for our programs. When we are faced with implementing new policies or considering other innovations, though, our conceptual framework is an essential guide that helps our programs undergo change while retaining their core identity.

At a session we attended last month at the Tennessee edTPA® Conference, faculty from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), demonstrated how sticking to their conceptual framework allowed them to embrace a new assessment without having to “jump through hoops.” Jennifer Jordan and her UTK colleagues intentionally and continually referenced their conceptual framework as they discussed how their institution considered integrating edTPA while also following the mantra, “We’re not going to give up who we are!”

The Power of Activist Scholarship in Addressing Injustice and Intolerance

The events that recently took place at the University of Missouri are not isolated incidents. Sadly, they are only the most recent examples of a growing trend and reflect the injustices on campuses and in communities across the United States and worldwide. Rather than use this space to recapitulate these events, we instead consider how and why the field must be responsive to these injustices, how we should use these events to make decisions about instruction and about the culture we establish in our classrooms, and how we might use our scholarship to aid in the struggle for justice.

On one hand, acts of injustice seem incompatible with the culture of higher education—which is supposed to support rational thinking, human rights, and informed debate. Yet even at institutions of higher education, where most individuals consider themselves scholars, each of us carries with us experiences, prejudices, and perspectives that are not informed by scholarly work or debate. We cannot take the position that we are “above” the prejudices and stances which have long personal and sociological histories.

Tennessee edTPA: Rubrics and Rigor, and Rethinking Retakes

The second annual Tennessee edTPA Conference was held November 12–13 at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville. Attendees from 13 Tennessee institutions, and one guest from North Carolina, collaborated to learn more about edTPA and develop new skills to share with faculty, staff, and candidates on their campuses.

The growing interest in edTPA across the state was evidenced by this year’s attendance, which grew by about 10% to 130 educators. The busy first-day agenda included a keynote presentation on the recently released edTPA Administrative Report, 13 breakout sessions, and lunch conversations among attendees with similar responsibilities. The second day was equally full, with local evaluation training facilitated by Cathy Zozakiewicz from the Stanford Center on Assessment, Learning, and Equity.

You Don’t Know What You Have Until It’s Gone

We have all heard that old saying, “You don’t know what you have until it is gone.” Delistray (2013) identified 11 things that we don’t appreciate until they are gone. Several, such as love in the time of youth, innocence, and our dreams, can be particularly poignant. Others, such as free/cheap/student-reduced pricing, we get to recoup once we hit our golden years. I would add membership with AACTE as an additional item to the list.

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