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Study: Evidence ‘Thin’ for Key Accountability Efforts—Except for edTPA

A new policy brief out of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) reviews the evidentiary base underlying four national initiatives for teacher preparation program accountability and finds that only one of them—the beginning-teacher performance assessment edTPA—is founded on claims supported by research. The other three mechanisms included in the study are the state and institutional reporting requirements under the Higher Education Act (HEA), the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) standards and system, and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) Teacher Prep Review.

Holding Teacher Preparation Accountable: A Review of Claims and Evidence, conducted by Marilyn Cochran-Smith and colleagues at Boston College (MA), investigated two primary questions: What claims does each initiative make about how it contributes to the preparation of high-quality teachers? And is there evidence that supports these claims? In addition, researchers looked at the initiatives’ potential to meet their shared goal of reducing educational inequity.

Preparing and Retaining Effective Special Education Teachers: Systemic Solutions for Addressing Teacher Shortages

The views expressed in this brief are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Pending shortages of special education teachers have many states and local districts scrambling to find solutions for securing the teachers they need. Some states are proposing incentives for recruiting special education teachers (as well as teachers in other high-need areas) and reducing requirements for entry into the classroom. Others are looking for alternative ways of preparing teachers in high-need areas. Quick routes to the classroom and incentives such as signing bonuses will do little to solve the shortage problem in the long term. At best, they create a revolving door, because unprepared special education teachers are more likely to leave teaching. At worst, they exacerbate the problem. Instead, a more systemic approach to solving the teacher shortage problem in special education is needed—one that will increase the likelihood that an adequate supply of fully prepared special education teachers enters the classroom and remains there.

Hope Street Group Report: Teachers Reflect on Preparation

A new survey report from the Hope Street Group (HSG) presents perspectives of nearly 2,000 classroom teachers on their own preparation and that of future educators, aiming to inform both preparation program improvement and state and federal policy. The report, On Deck: Preparing the Next Generation of Teachers, asks whether teachers are being prepared effectively for the realities of today’s classrooms and what changes to curriculum, clinical experiences, and accountability measures might be needed.

The study was conducted by 18 HSG National Teacher Fellows, who are practicing classroom teachers and instructional coaches from 17 states. Last fall, they collected data through surveys and focus groups from other practicing teachers in their regions on their experiences and perceptions of how well teacher preparation providers are doing. Participating teachers ranged from 1 to 31 years of experience and came from all grade levels and subjects and from rural, urban, and suburban settings.

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:

Call for JTE Manuscripts: Special Issue on Teaching to Changing Standards

The editors of the Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) invite manuscripts for a special issue on preparation for teaching to changing standards (e.g., Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, C3 Framework for Social Studies Standards). Manuscripts are due February 15, 2016.

The Common Core State Standards for mathematics and for English/language arts have been adopted by more than 40 states. Many states have either adopted or are considering the Next Generation Science Standards. The C3 Framework for Social Studies Standards was intended to provide guidance to states wishing to revise their standards.

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.

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.

Teachers Learn in the Classroom, Too

Research out of Brown University (RI) shows that teachers improve tremendously in their first year of teaching and continue to do so during their career. Researchers John Papay and Matthew Kraft discussed this work in a free AACTE webinar last month, “Toward a Broader Conceptualization of Teacher Quality: How Schools Influence Teacher Effectiveness,” which was recorded and is now available in AACTE’s Resource Library.

Papay, assistant professor of education and economics, and Kraft, assistant professor of education, shared findings from their research, recently published in Productivity Returns to Experience in the Teacher Labor Market: Methodological Challenges and New Evidence on Long-Term Career Improvement and Can Professional Environments in Schools Promote Teacher Development? Explaining Heterogeneity in Returns to Teaching Experience. These studies show that teachers’ learning develops exponentially in their early years in the classroom but also continues to grow throughout their careers at a slower rate, and teachers working in more supportive professional environments improve their effectiveness more over time than teachers working in less supportive contexts.

JTE Coeditor: NCTQ Appraisal of Journals Based on Narrow View of Teacher Prep Research

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) published an article in last week’s Teacher Quality Bulletin that criticized journals with a teacher education focus for not publishing enough articles on “core techniques and skills.” Targeting AACTE’s Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) in particular, the authors report that “only” 11% of the articles published in JTE in the past 5 years address this topic. JTE Coeditor Fran Arbaugh of Pennsylvania State University sent the following response to the article’s authors:

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