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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.

Teacher Preparation Is Smart (Response to ‘Teachers Aren’t Dumb’)

Sometimes the story is as good as the headlines, and sometimes it’s even better. The New York Times op-ed “Teachers Aren’t Dumb” (Sept. 8) by Psychologist Daniel T. Willingham is a case in point. As Willingham notes, contrary to popular belief, new teachers are solid academic performers. And as his article asserts, they can benefit from the research on effective teaching that is being conducted in the schools of education that prepare them. Willingham also points out—with rhetorical hyberbole—that not all preparation programs are using the latest research. While program quality varies, the excellent preparation provided by the universities whose researchers he cites illustrates that teacher education has strong exemplars. Unfortunately, Willingham does not acknowledge the widespread change within the education preparation community.

The direction of today’s preparation programs is truly good news. Willingham accurately identifies two guiding principles for improving teacher preparation and program accountability: evaluate programs based on graduates’ performance on a rigorous, credible culminating assessment, and base that assessment (and programs’ content) on evidence of what works best for student learning.

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.

PDK/Gallup Poll: U.S. Public Values Teacher Quality, Opposes High-Stakes Testing, Split on Opting Out

AACTE’s more than 800 member institutions are dedicated to high-quality preparation that ensures the effectiveness, diversity, and readiness of professional educators, supporting the priorities of the American public surveyed in the 47th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. The recently released 2015 poll included questions on teacher quality and evaluation, standards, testing, and more, and a new online polling format captured selected demographic information, allowing for more disaggregated responses than past surveys.

The survey shows that 95% of Americans consider the quality of teachers to be very important and an integral factor for improving public schools. As in past years, an overwhelming majority of the U.S. public also is pleased with the performance of their local schools. Testing is viewed less favorably, though, including for teacher accountability purposes; 55% of Americans and 61% of public school parents oppose using student scores on standardized tests as part of teacher evaluations. Respondents also are skeptical of federal policy influences on public schools and of the Common Core State Standards.

Free Webinar to Explore School Context’s Influence on Teacher Effectiveness

From their recent research on the relationship between teacher productivity and job experience, John Papay and Matthew Kraft of Brown University (RI) will share new evidence on teachers’ long-term career improvement in a free webinar for AACTE members. “Toward a Broader Conceptualization of Teacher Quality: How Schools Influence Teacher Effectiveness” will be held Wednesday, August 19, at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

Policy makers tend to think of “teacher quality” as a fixed and portable characteristic of an individual teacher – in other words, it doesn’t change over time or across school settings. In this webinar, Papay and Kraft will make the case for a broader conceptualization of “teacher effectiveness” that depends, in large part, on the school context in which a teacher works.

Literacy Conference Panel Weighs Quality Teacher Prep

Last weekend, I was privileged to represent AACTE on a panel at the conference of the International Literacy Association (ILA). Our session, titled “Cultivating Literacy Achievement Through Quality Teacher Preparation,” touched on current program-improvement efforts, revision of the ILA standards for program recognition, variations in licensure requirements across the country, and policy-related challenges.

Joining me for the discussion were William Teale of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Rita Bean of the University of Pittsburgh (PA), Bryan Joffe of the School Superintendents Association, Chris Koch of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, and others.

Twitter Chat Tomorrow on Teacher Prep Quality, Capacity

On Wednesday, June 17, the Education Policy Center (EPC) at the American Institutes for Research will host a Twitter chat, “Preparing a Million New Teachers,” to discuss whether educator preparation programs are up to the challenge of producing a well-prepared workforce. You can lend your voice to the chat by following and tagging #EPCchat on Twitter, starting tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. EDT.

‘Mama Bear’ Teacher Says edTPA Gave Student Teacher Realistic Classroom Experience

LaSaundra Colson Wade has worked with a lot of student teachers in her 18 years as an educator. That’s why she knew that it wasn’t business as usual last spring when she began working with a teacher candidate from nearby Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA, who was going through edTPA.

And it’s one of the reasons she’s not surprised that this spring’s student teacher is already her full-time teaching colleague.

Lessons From Mrs. Berrier, aka Mom

The greatest teacher I ever had was Mrs. Berrier. As my fifth grade art teacher, she taught me lessons about self-direction and creativity that have endured long after I left her classroom. In fact, she continues to teach and support me—because she’s also my mother.

My mom, a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has been a teacher for almost 20 years. She has taught in schools where she had to take training to be able to break up fights, and in schools where irate parents demand to know why their children received less than a “satisfactory” on their report card. I think she has excelled at all of it because she teaches her students the same lesson, regardless of what classroom she is in: Your work is your own and is special when it represents you.

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