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CEEDAR, CCSSO Want States to Ensure Teachers Are Prepared for Learners With Diverse Needs

A new report calls on states to ensure more intentional preparation of educators to work with struggling learners, including students with disabilities, English language learners, and students with unidentified learning and behavior needs, to address persistent achievement gaps. The report, issued by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the University of Florida’s Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center, builds on a 2012 paper from CCSSO about policies to transform educator preparation generally—whose recommendations were supported by AACTE—and echoes messages of a recent policy brief developed by AACTE and the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

The new report, Promises to Keep: Transforming Education Preparation to Better Serve a Diverse Range of Learners, makes the following five recommendations for states:

  1. Beginning in the preparation stage, define and integrate across the education career continuum the knowledge and skills all educators need to implement differentiated, high-quality, core content instruction to meet the needs of all learners, monitor student progress, and identify and provide increasingly intensive supports.
  2. Provide multiple opportunities for deliberate practice and feedback to educators, including access to a range of meaningful practical experiences, as they learn and implement differentiated core instruction, monitor student progress, and apply evidence-based practices to meet the needs of all students within a tiered system of support.
  3. Ensure that the outcomes of all students—including students with disabilities—are an integral part of preparation program approval and educator evaluation systems.
  4. Create an infrastructure that prepares candidates for enabling and promoting shared ownership, collaboration, and teamwork among all educators for all students, including students with disabilities.
  5. Hold educator preparation programs accountable and provide feedback on how to improve programs to ensure candidates are prepared with the knowledge, skills, and practice opportunities necessary to teach and lead diverse learners within tiered systems of support.

What’s more, the report identifies specific state policy levers to help achieve these goals and calls on chief state school officers to take the lead, in partnership with educators and teacher educators, in pursuing the reforms. Already, the CEEDAR Center is providing intensive technical assistance in 20 partner states around similar reform efforts; AACTE is a national partner for their work to develop educators to prepare students with disabilities for college and careers. (For details, visit http://ceedar.org/.) This month, AACTE is cosponsoring a leadership convening with the CEEDAR Center in Indianapolis to support teacher educators in developing and implementing preparation initiatives that leverage these recommendations.

AACTE’s support for preparing general educators to teach all learners is detailed in the 2011 policy paper, developed in partnership with the National Center for Learning Disabilities, titled Preparing General Education Teachers to Improve Outcomes for Students With Disabilities.The authors of the report were Linda Blanton of Florida International University, Marleen Pugach of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Lani Florian of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. The paper outlines a vision of effective preparation, examines initiatives under way in pursuit of that vision, and provides specific policy recommendations at the federal, state, and provider levels that connect prior research and foundational work to current practices.

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Sungti Hsu

Director of State Affiliate and Partnership Support