AACTE’s Washington Week kicked off with diverse perspectives, enlightening anecdotes, and compelling conversations at the special conference “Progress and Factors That Contribute to Closing the STEM Achievement Gap,” sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Five presenters joined AACTE leaders on two panels discussing ways to improve learning outcomes of underrepresented populations in the STEM fields.
Hall Davidson, Vasanta Akondy, and Armando Sanchez-Martinez at STEM Conference
The conference began with presenters Armando Sanchez-Martinez, manager of Editorial Santillana in Mexico, and Vasanta Akondy, co-manager of the Verizon Innovative Learning Program (VILP), who together provided a global perspective on innovative solutions to increase access to STEM education in Mexico and India.
Sanchez-Martinez presented a comprehensive look into Mexico’s educational landscape, including a detailed explanation of sociocultural factors that contribute to local achievement gaps and of the current educational movements and solutions to closing the gap. Akondy highlighted the importance of VILP and its efforts to recruit more girls in India into the STEM fields. The aim of this program is to provide a community network of support while focusing on student engagement and providing technological resources to underfunded schools.
More than 100 teacher educators, students, and partners convened in Washington, DC, last week for AACTE’s Day on the Hill, bringing the voice of the profession to members of Congress. The event was held June 10-11 as part of AACTE’s Washington Week.
Day on the Hill began with a half-day orientation that explored participants’ role in advocating and advancing the profession. To prepare attendees for engaging with members of Congress and their staff, the afternoon started with an update on education-related activity on Capitol Hill from Deborah Koolbeck, AACTE’s director of government relations. Koolbeck also reviewed talking points provided by AACTE and discussed strategies for choosing the most effective talking points to use in various meetings with policy makers.
Throughout AACTE’s Washington Week, June 9-11, the theme “Diverse Perspectives, Deep Partnerships, One Profession” permeated each event, motivating attendees to forge and nurture bonds that will strengthen the profession. From the emerging leaders attending the Holmes Scholars Summer Policy Institute to the chapter executives at the State Leaders Institute, and from the STEM conference through Day on the Hill, participants connected with peers, policy makers, and partners around common goals and interests.
AACTE just hosted another great Washington Week! This was my third year attending the State Leaders Institute (SLI), and I’m always amazed at how much I learn about what is happening at the federal level and in other states, how other state associations are supporting teacher and leader preparation that will positively affect student learning, and how they are facing and addressing the challenges that are impacting our profession.
All regions of the country were represented during the June 9-10 institute, and as stories were shared, I believe we came to deeper understanding about the uniqueness of our respective states—and, perhaps more importantly, about the ways we are similar and how those similarities can help us frame a common message.
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.
Eight state affiliates of AACTE will share $60,000 in funding from the 2015 State Chapter Support Grant competition. The awards were announced June 9 during a reception in Washington, DC, where members of AACTE’s Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR) had convened for the annual State Leaders Institute.
To quote Valerie Strauss in the May 28 edition of The Washington Post, “What the heck is going on with Wisconsin public education?” Efforts in the Wisconsin State Legislature to reform education without the transparency of public debate, or the consultation of educators, resulted in proposed legislation that may erode the basic foundation of Wisconsin’s public school system. Do politicians realize they are proposing a licensure policy that, if approved, would require barbers (yes, you read that right) to have more training at their craft than teachers?
Seriously, what the heck IS going on?
Last spring, the California Council on Teacher Education (CCTE) received an AACTE State Chapter Support Grant to fund a “Quest for Research on Teacher Education” to engage local scholars and broaden the knowledge base in California and nationally. I am delighted to report that the Quest program is achieving its goals, as well as unanticipated benefits, which will pay dividends for years to come.
Before the Quest program, CCTE’s commitment to encourage and support research on teacher education already took many forms. We sponsor two high-quality scholarly journals devoted to publication of quantitative and qualitative studies; hold semiannual conferences that include numerous concurrent research presentations and poster sessions; offer support programs for new faculty and graduate students, which include participation in the research and poster sessions at our conferences; and collaborate with Division K of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) on a national committee focusing on research in teacher education policy, which schedules a special open session on research topics at the annual AERA meetings.
Professional advocacy organizations support their members by helping them advance a collective voice. By articulating a field’s consensus positions, associations empower their members to speak clearly about what they know, identify priorities, invest their energy strategically, and communicate confidently with internal and external audiences.
These unified understandings, which we adjust as research and best practices evolve, help us fulfill our obligation to correct misinformation and to respond to critics—a frequent need in the field of educator preparation. More importantly, though, they provide a foundation for action by the profession and help us recognize areas of need. In educator preparation, we’ve instituted a variety of reforms in recent years that have prompted us to develop new resources to increase our capacity, assess our progress, and inform our knowledge base.
Today, AACTE’s Washington Week kicks off with a full lineup of interactive sessions, discussions, and advocacy around educator preparation. In addition to our traditional advocacy-focused events, we are hosting a special conference this afternoon on closing the student achievement gap in the critical subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, today’s conference will feature a multidisciplinary group of education researchers, practitioners, and scientists who will share their theoretical approaches and successful models for promoting the STEM achievement. The panelists will also discuss how to build collaborative, interdisciplinary partnerships for addressing the U.S. achievement gap in STEM subjects—drawing on international lessons—as well as ways to improve learning outcomes of underrepresented populations in the STEM fields.
AACTE is now accepting nominations for the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award. Applications must be uploaded through our online submission system by August 17.
The AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award recognizes excellence in doctoral dissertation research (or its equivalent) that contributes to the knowledge base of educator preparation or of teaching and learning with implications for educator preparation. For this award, applicants must submit a 10-page narrative answering a series of questions about the dissertation, along with a letter of support from the dissertation adviser/chair. Dissertations with a completion date between January 2014 and June 2015 are eligible for consideration; see the call for entries for other requirements.
On May 26, the College of Education at William Paterson University (NJ) brought together university, school, and community members for a very special event organized by Candace Burns, dean of the college, and Sharon Leathers, director of educational innovations and grant initiatives. I was privileged to participate along with my colleague Rodrick Lucero, AACTE’s vice president for member engagement and support.
The event centered on the award-winning documentary American Promise, which follows two African American boys through 13 years of schooling in a unique coming-of-age film. Around the country, internationally, and through the PBS network, this amazing film has provoked new conversations and raised difficult questions about what the promise of education means in America, particularly for children of color.
Despite common caricatures of Twitter as the domain of callow teens and celebrity stalkers, it is a technology that should be taken seriously by teacher educators. Although social media has had a dramatic impact on communication in the modern world, the field of teacher preparation has been largely reluctant to add its voices to the mix. It is high time that we wake up to the role new media can play in our professional lives—and to the risks of remaining on the sidelines.
We have seen what can happen when we allow others to decide how our story is told, especially those who view our work with suspicion or even outright hostility. When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that “many if not most of the nation’s 1,450 schools, colleges, and departments of education are doing a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st-century classroom,” for example, that message won broad circulation, including in social media. Today, the secretary’s and the U.S. Department of Education’s Twitter accounts reach more than 500,000 individuals. By comparison, AACTE’s Twitter account has approximately 5,600 followers.
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.
Educator preparation faculty at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, like to meet with faculty in other departments to compare notes about how their teacher candidates are doing and how best to support them across study areas.
“That’s just the environment we work in. They are all of our students, as they major in education and an area of the liberal arts and sciences,” explains Kate DaBoll-Lavoie, professor and immediate past chair of the Department of Inclusive Childhood Education at Nazareth. “We want them to succeed. We support our colleagues.”
For the past 2 years, DaBoll-Lavoie and her colleagues have brought to the table new data that have enriched the conversations and helped to focus them on specific needs of students.