The Year Ahead: Opportunities and Challenges for AACTE and Our Field

I am honored to assume the role of chair of AACTE’s Board of Directors at such an exciting time for the organization and the profession as a whole. Nine weeks into my yearlong term, I’m eager to share my excitement with you about the work we’re doing together.

Most visible so far is our focus on accreditation, particularly our efforts to initiate a collaborative dialogue with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This dialogue aims to address concerns expressed by many AACTE members while continuing our support for CAEP as the field’s unified accrediting body.

Although important—in fact, critical—for our field, our work with CAEP is but one of a large portfolio of topics on AACTE’s agenda.

As you know, our field continues toward a new era in performance assessment with all of its intent and unintended consequences. edTPA and other instruments in development across the country  provide us with more tools to provide valid and reliable feedback than we’ve ever had before. Our challenge is to determine the best ways to put these new tools to use for our candidates and our programs. AACTE is taking the lead in providing technical assistance around this challenge, developing networks of consultants, training modules, and more to build programs’ capacity to both implement contemporary assessments and interpret their data for program improvement as well as accountability purposes.

In addition, we are augmenting our attention to addressing unmet workforce needs. To help diversify the teacher corps, for example, AACTE’s Networked Improvement Community is developing and sharing strategies to recruit more men of color into educator preparation programs. Meanwhile, the AACTE Holmes Scholars® Program continues to grow, supporting increasing numbers of education doctoral students from underrepresented groups. And at our Washington Week in June, a conference supported by the National Science Foundation will convene experts from around the world to discuss strategies for closing the achievement gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, particularly through interdisciplinary partnerships.

Among what I like best about AACTE is the opportunity that our association provides to be part of something bigger and more special than any of our programs are alone. By providing a “choir” for the diverse voices of the field of educator preparation in collaboration with our partner organizations, AACTE empowers us all to have a greater role in the field’s work—with positive consequence and impact. A full chorus of educators, singing together in harmony, has the best opportunity to debunk myths, inform policy, and sort out the many complex issues that we face.

Partnership lies at the heart of all we do, whether it’s across the boardroom table, between a university and a local school district, or among the diverse organizations in a national coalition. In these communities of common interest, we troubleshoot, celebrate, and share with one another in a continuous cycle of renewal—and keep each other ever mindful of the “bottom line” of serving all of our nation’s students.

The agenda for AACTE is full—the possibilities are endless. Thanks to all of our members for your contributions and commitment to your association.

Mark Ginsberg, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, is 2015-2016 chair of the AACTE Board of Directors.

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Mark Ginsberg

George Mason University