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Member Voices: Easy A’s Gets an F

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education and is reposted with permission. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE. See also AACTE’s statement about the Easy A’s report.

The National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based think tank, has issued a number of reports in recent years on teacher preparation around the country. Its flagship effort since 2013, the Teacher Prep Review, is an annual report released in June that rates programs on how well they are preparing new teachers. In order to keep its name in front of the media between those major annual releases, the council has issued a series of studies on other aspects of teacher preparation. The latest one, Easy A’s and What’s Behind Them, came out this week. As with the organization’s other studies, this one has fatal flaws that undermine most of the conclusions articulated in it.

Latest NCTQ Report Blames Vague Assignments for “Easy A’s” in Ed Schools

AACTE Members Leading Efforts to Develop and Rigorously Assess Teacher Candidates

In its latest effort to cast the nation’s schools of education in a negative light, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) today released a report claiming that vague, “criterion-deficient” assignments in educator preparation programs result in too many high grades among teacher candidates, compared with students in other majors at the same institutions. The report, Training Our Future Teachers: Easy A’s and What’s Behind Them, rests on the same meager evidence—mere document reviews—as NCTQ has used in past reports. One of its underlying tenets, however, is important, if not new: that teacher candidates and their readiness to practice must be developed and assessed fully and accurately, an area that is already the subject of intense focus and innovation led by the educator preparation community.

AACTE Continues Survey on Data Use in Programs

This summer, Chief Representatives at 400 randomly selected AACTE member institutions are participating in a survey on data use in their teacher preparation programs. If your institution has been invited but has not yet participated, please complete the survey to inform our future technical assistance and other member services around data use.

Each survey respondent receives an Amazon gift card as a token of appreciation. What’s more, some participants report a benefit from the survey itself. One dean said the survey “posed so many great, thoughtful questions and really forced me to think through our programs and how we are/are not using data effectively.

Accountability for Programs and Institutions: A Core Value

Accountability is a core value of AACTE and its membership. Although the current trend toward measuring teacher preparation programs’ outcomes rather than inputs is a clear step in the right direction, it is often difficult to produce meaningful evidence of program impact amid the wide-ranging ideas of what such evidence might be. Still, our profession is ahead of the game in dealing with the performance expectations and reporting demands that now face higher education in general.

Innovation at Lesley University: Assessment System to Support Continuous Improvement

The Innovations Inventory of AACTE’s Innovation Exchange is an online database highlighting members’ pioneering practices in educator preparation that have shown a positive impact on issues of student learning, preparation program advancement, or educator workforce needs. This blog post is one in a series highlighting entries from the inventory. To request inclusion of your institution’s innovations, contact Kristin McCabe at kmccabe@aacte.org.

Faculty in the Graduate School of Education at Lesley University (MA) have built a comprehensive e-portfolio and assessment system to provide data on candidate performance and support continuous improvement processes. The assessment system aligns key formative assignments in initial, professional license, and advanced professional development programs to standards-based program outcomes. Candidates submit all assignments to an e-portfolio system, where faculty score them based on valid and reliable rubrics. The assessment system also contains data on candidate performance on state exams and summative performances from clinical experiences.

AACTE to Survey Members on Data Use in Programs

In the next few days, Chief Representatives at 400 randomly selected AACTE member institutions will receive an invitation from the Association to complete a survey on data use in their teacher preparation programs.

As readers of this blog know, teacher preparation institutions are under increasing pressure to provide data on the effectiveness of their programs and to use these data to make decisions about ongoing program improvement. However, a growing body of research shows that using data to make decisions about policy and practice involves much more than collecting, aggregating, and analyzing information. In order to understand what it takes to go from collecting to effectively using data, AACTE and the University of Washington have been collaborating over the last 2 years on a Spencer Foundation-sponsored project focused on describing how teacher education programs are learning to use new sources of outcome data for the purposes of program improvement.

Innovation at Arizona State University: iTeachAZ

The Innovations Inventory of AACTE’s Innovation Exchange is an online database highlighting members’ pioneering practices in educator preparation that have shown a positive impact on issues of student learning, preparation program advancement, or educator workforce needs. This blog post is one in a series highlighting entries from the inventory. To request inclusion of your institution’s innovations, contact Jessica Milton at jmilton@aacte.org.

In response to the call for increased rigor and effectiveness in teacher preparation, one of the largest teacher preparation programs in the country, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University (ASU), implemented iTeachAZ. The program includes changes in teacher preparation that focus on improvements in candidates’ content knowledge mastery, classroom readiness, and assessment literacy. The program provides a senior-year residency experience that extends student teaching from a single semester to a full school year, enabling students to live the “full life” of a teacher. ASU has also integrated performance assessments throughout the teacher preparation program.

Department of Education to Move Forward With Teacher Preparation Regulations

On Friday at Dunbar High School in Washington, DC, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz announced movement on long-overdue teacher preparation regulations. These regulations are the successor to the spring 2012 negotiated rule making held by the Department of Education, which failed to reach consensus after several tumultuous sessions.

Joined on a panel at Friday’s event by Jim Cibulka (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation), Camilla Benbow (Vanderbilt University, TN), Chris Minnich (Council of Chief State School Officers), Kaya Henderson (District of Columbia Public Schools), Elisa Villanueva Beard (Teach For America), and Secretary Duncan, Muñoz said the regulations are “something that the president has a real sense of urgency about.”

CAEP Releases Evidence Guides, Application for EPPs

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) has released draft evidence guides along with an application for educator preparation providers (EPPs). The evidence guides are designed to provide practical advice for EPPs as they structure their self-study under the CAEP standards and prepare for a site visit.

The following drafts are available:

Commentary: A Response to NCTQ’s Classroom Management Report

The authors are members of AACTE’s topical action group on Teacher Education as a Moral Community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

A recent National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) report evaluates teacher preparation programs for their attention to an important element of preparation: classroom management. Unfortunately, the report’s few helpful suggestions get lost in the slough of misguided assumptions and questionable claims by the report’s authors.

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