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Meeting Member Needs at SLI, Day on the Hill

A healthy organization works to articulate its mission and meet the needs of its members, and that’s just what AACTE did during this year’s Washington Week. We recently returned home from AACTE’s State Leaders Institute (SLI), where we collaborated with chapter leaders and members from various states, June 9-10, followed by advocacy activities at Day on the Hill, June 10-11.

The SLI agenda included updates on the national and regional landscapes of teacher education, accreditation, and capacity building. AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson provided her perspective about the state of the organization and introduced AACTE’s new online professional seminars related to assessment and use of data for improvement. SLI was a great opportunity for us to engage in conversations about regulations, state chapter issues, and increasing the level of engagement in order to enhance teacher preparation.

It was thought provoking to review the data provided by AACTE about teacher preparation policies, legislation, and programs. Key breakout sessions helped us learn about accreditation, performance assessments, and the organizational orientation of AACTE for new leaders. Sharing ideas in sessions also made us aware of what other state chapters are doing to recruit members, share economic impacts of educator preparation, and disseminate information.

Day on the Hill was another big event for us as we prepared for meetings with our congressional representatives to update them on our teacher preparation programs and share concerns faced by institutions. Our day on Capitol Hill began with a welcome from Representative Mike Honda (D-CA). He is an impressive speaker who discussed the importance of equitable access to quality education, teachers, and principals. Attendees then visited the offices of representatives and their staff, who were supportive of what we had to share and were generous with their time and attention.

Certain key issues dominated the discussions during both SLI and Day on the Hill. One was the proposed federal regulations for teacher preparation programs, which were discussed at length in different sessions. Participants shared a strong agreement with AACTE’s position against these regulations.

Another hot topic was accreditation, namely the new standards and processes around the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Participants were pleasantly surprised to meet with CAEP Interim President Christopher A. Koch and hear from Stevie Chepko about accreditation processes and updates. Some raised concerns about the lack of clarity in processes, especially related to advanced programs and the timing of rollouts from CAEP. At the same time, AACTE’s commitment to a unified accrediting system for educator preparation was also emphasized repeatedly. We look forward to learning more at the fall 2015 CAEP conference in Washington, DC.

In all, SLI and Day on the Hill were two great learning events for us. They allowed opportunities to share ideas and to network with other state leaders and teacher educators as well as with AACTE staff. Both events complemented each other nicely, as a lot of ideas discussed during SLI were carried into conversations with congressional representatives. Forging collaborative partnerships, sharing exemplary activities, and interacting with the Holmes Scholars were additional highlights of our busy week.

We want to commend Sharon Robinson, Aaron Goldstein, Sungti Hsu, and Deborah Koolbeck among other AACTE staff members for organizing Washington Week’s events, including SLI and Day on the Hill. It is great to have them as partners to ensure a strong voice for high-quality educator preparation programs.

Ann E. Larson is president of the Advisory Council of State Representatives, past president of the Kentucky Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and dean and professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville.

Manish Sharma is president of the Kentucky Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and director of educator preparation and human development at the University of Louisville.

Ann E. Larson

Dean and Professor in the College of Education and Human Development, University of Louisville

Manish Sharma

Director of Educator Preparation and Human Development, University of Louisville