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?
As another ambitious teacher preparation innovation captures national attention, I invite you to join me in taking stock of how widespread creative change has become in this field. The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently announced the launch of their brand-new research laboratory and graduate program to prepare teachers and school leaders. The educator preparation field, already rife with innovation, welcomes the new Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning as the latest partner in a robust entrepreneurial environment.
While I do not embrace the negative rhetoric that accompanied the new program’s announcement, I am keenly interested in the work. In fact, the Academy’s goals are quite aligned with those being addressed by many other educator preparation providers and organizations. Foundation President Arthur Levine and his partners at MIT will find themselves in good company as they pursue their particular reform interests and share their findings.
Professional advocacy organizations support their members by helping them advance a collective voice. By articulating a field’s consensus positions, associations empower their members to speak clearly about what they know, identify priorities, invest their energy strategically, and communicate confidently with internal and external audiences.
These unified understandings, which we adjust as research and best practices evolve, help us fulfill our obligation to correct misinformation and to respond to critics—a frequent need in the field of educator preparation. More importantly, though, they provide a foundation for action by the profession and help us recognize areas of need. In educator preparation, we’ve instituted a variety of reforms in recent years that have prompted us to develop new resources to increase our capacity, assess our progress, and inform our knowledge base.
Today is one of my favorite days of the year: National Teacher Day. For those of us who work year round to set teachers up for success, it’s a special treat to spotlight their work to do the same for students.
How do great teachers set students up for success?
News Flash! The interest of students and their opportunity to learn is not better or even well served by a strategy of constant and high demand of inexperienced teachers. Retention matters, not just to teachers but, most critically, to students.
Recent studies showing that teacher effectiveness continues to develop over time reinforce this imperative to do right by our students. First, in a working paper completed last year for the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, researchers at Duke University found that middle school teachers’ effect on student test scores as well as attendance rates improves over at least several years. A subsequent study out of Brown University found improvement in teacher effectiveness is indeed steepest in the early years in the classroom but continues for many more years, challenging the common perception that teacher quality is a fixed characteristic after just a couple of years of experience.
The following letter to the editor was published in the Washington Post February 23, in response to the February 20 commentary by the University of Virginia’s Robert C. Pianta, “Teacher Prep Programs Need to Be Accountable, Too.”
Robert C. Pianta vastly oversimplified the narrative about accountability among those who prepare educators.
Educator preparation programs should indeed be accountable, and the profession has been busy creating data tools and processes for accountability. States such as Louisiana, California, and Georgia are working to determine the best ways to use data collected through existing assessments and surveys to document program impact. These systems rely on access to K-12 student achievement data as one indicator.
This post also appears in the Public School Insights blog of the Learning First Alliance.It’s an insidious message embedded in the American psyche: Those who can’t, teach. For years, report after report has banged the drum for raising admission standards into teacher preparation programs, citing international comparisons and championing cost-prohibitive recruitment policies.
In reality, the talent pool now entering teacher preparation programs is rich. Our programs are, in fact, attracting their share of high achievers—defined by any number of criteria.
Eighteen education deans have formed a new coalition, Deans for Impact, to engage in the ongoing and important discussion about educator effectiveness and quality evidence. This group has staked out an agenda that is congruent with AACTE’s overall goals and also echoes the professional standards being implemented by the Council for the Accreditation for Educator Preparation.
This post also appears on the Public School Insights blog of the Learning First Alliance.
Last week, the White House announced a new push to protect students’ digital privacy, as ever-expanding data collection efforts heighten concerns from parents and advocacy groups about appropriate uses of the data. Institutions of higher education share the administration’s priority to protect elementary and secondary students and uphold diligent safety and privacy practices in preparing teachers for the classroom. Ultimately, safeguarding student data is everyone’s business.
Each year, our nation’s PK-12 schools rely on colleges of teacher education to prepare thousands of new teachers. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools is expected to grow from 55 to 58 million. Already, schools in high-need urban and rural areas struggle to recruit and retain enough qualified teachers, and many districts do not have sufficient special education or STEM specialists to serve student needs. Amidst these growing needs, however, enrollment in teacher preparation programs nationwide is falling, and data from AACTE’s 800 member institutions show reductions over the last decade in both undergraduate and graduate programs. What’s at the root of this worrisome decline, and how can we start to turn the tide?