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‘More Than Just a Score’: Making edTPA Work for Early Education

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

At City University of New York’s Lehman College in the Bronx, our early childhood education students are known for their strong work ethic and resilience. Most are working parents, some with long commutes to class on public transit, and approximately 70% are bilingual, having learned English as a second language.

Early on in the edTPA process, we set out to disprove the contention that teachers of very young children – our teachers work with kids as young as 2 years old – would not score well on the assessment. It’s true that it can be challenging to reflect and write about giving feedback to such young students, especially when some of our teachers struggle with written English. But our students led the way in determining developmentally appropriate ways to provide feedback, and they documented their work during writing workshops on the weekends.

NCTQ Criticizes Preschool Teacher Prep in New Report

Last week the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released a new report offering the council’s assessment of how well teacher preparation programs are preparing preschool educators. Again relying on course descriptions and syllabi for its evidence, NCTQ paints a predictably bleak picture, saying the “review of these programs shows little evidence of quality training focused on the needs of the preschool classroom.”

For this report, NCTQ reviewed 100 programs in 29 states and chose not to identify which programs were included in the review. Accompanying the report is a set of resources that include policy recommendations for states and school districts, outlining what NCTQ calls “essentials for a great preschool teacher prep program,” and a guide for would-be teachers, outlining what NCTQ believes they should look for in a teacher prep program.

Never Abandon Your Principles—Or Your Students

Wendy Bradshaw
Wendy Bradshaw, in a photo from her Facebook profile

It’s sad but true: In October, a veteran teacher in Florida resigned because the conditions under which she was required to work did not support best practice. Despite her love of teaching and her “highly effective” ratings in evaluations, Wendy Bradshaw was trapped in an untenable position because she was required to deploy practices that were developmentally inappropriate for her young students.

Based on her extensive training in human growth and development, this highly credentialed professional with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees would not persist in activities that she knew to be harmful to her students. “Developmentally appropriate practice is the bedrock upon which early childhood education best practices are based, and has decades of empirical support behind it,” she writes in her resignation letter. “However, the new reforms not only disregard this research, they are actively forcing teachers to engage in practices which are not only ineffective but actively harmful to child development and the learning process.”

Federal Spending Bill Maintains Investment in Educator Preparation

Last week, President Obama signed an omnibus spending bill funding the government through the end of the fiscal year. This $1.1 trillion plan restores approximately two thirds ($1.6 billion) of the cuts made to the U.S. Department of Education in last year’s sequestration.

Perhaps most important to educator preparation programs, the omnibus maintains funding for Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants, which fund partnerships between institutions of higher education and high-need school districts to create clinical and/or residency programs at the prebaccalaureate or graduate level. This means that the U.S. Department of Education will fund a new round of grants to partnerships seeking to reform teacher preparation programs. Stay tuned for more updates from AACTE on how to apply for this grant funding.

Early Childhood Education Bills Introduced in Congress

Several early childhood education bills were introduced recently in Congress.

A bipartisan bill, the Strong Start for America’s Children Act (H.R. 3461/S. 1697), was introduced November 13 in the House and Senate that would expand access to and quality of early learning programs for children. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Tom Harkin (D-IA), chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and in the House by Representatives George Miller (D-CA), ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and Richard Hanna (R-NY). Hanna’s endorsement makes the bill bipartisan, although no Republicans in the Senate support the legislation.

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