Archive for March, 2016

Preparing and Retaining Effective Special Education Teachers: Systemic Solutions for Addressing Teacher Shortages

The views expressed in this brief are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Pending shortages of special education teachers have many states and local districts scrambling to find solutions for securing the teachers they need. Some states are proposing incentives for recruiting special education teachers (as well as teachers in other high-need areas) and reducing requirements for entry into the classroom. Others are looking for alternative ways of preparing teachers in high-need areas. Quick routes to the classroom and incentives such as signing bonuses will do little to solve the shortage problem in the long term. At best, they create a revolving door, because unprepared special education teachers are more likely to leave teaching. At worst, they exacerbate the problem. Instead, a more systemic approach to solving the teacher shortage problem in special education is needed—one that will increase the likelihood that an adequate supply of fully prepared special education teachers enters the classroom and remains there.

Town Hall Meeting Engages AACTE Members, Leaders on Hot Issues

Members of the AACTE Executive Committee held a Town Hall Meeting February 24 at the AACTE 68th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, providing updates to the membership on key work of the Association and answering questions submitted by the audience on various programmatic and professional issues.

AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson opened the session with her annual “state of the Association” report. She announced that membership numbers are up to 823 institutional and 32 affiliate members and that several exciting new initiatives are under way—replacing or updating others to be more responsive to member needs. The long-operating Professional Education Data System (PEDS), for example, is now suspended in favor of a new data initiative that will aggregate and report on existing data sets, create benchmarking potential for programs, and more.

NNSTOY Releases Report on Teacher Leadership

A new study from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) introduces compelling research on the characteristics of teacher leaders and factors that challenge or support them. The report, Great to Influential: Teacher Leaders’ Roles in Supporting Instruction, follows up on the 2014 study From Good to Great: Exemplary Teachers Share Perspectives on Increasing Teacher Effectiveness Across the Career Continuum. In light of the new study’s findings, the report suggests strategies for school districts to capitalize on the assets presented by teacher leaders, ranging from providing broader career path options to increasing their interaction with preservice and novice educators.

Educators, Media Professionals Discuss ‘Digital Divide’ at AACTE Forum

AACTE’s 2016 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, addressed the demands of professional practice and the tough questions that face educators on a variety of fronts. On February 24, the editors of the Journal of Teacher Education (JTE)chose to focus their major forum on “Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide: Challenges for Teacher Education,” bringing together panelists from around the country who are working to close opportunity gaps for young people relative to—and through—the use of technology.

After JTE Coeditor Gail Richmond of Michigan State University introduced the panelists, the discussion started with Hardin Coleman, dean and professor in the School of Education at Boston University (MA). He spoke about shared characteristics of gap-closing schools, accreditation standards, and the steps he sees as necessary to close the technological gap. Coleman suggested focusing on the role of educators in the gap-closing process, deep engagement with educational partners, and supporting the systems of data that will inform progress. He championed efforts to create education systems that will provide a high-quality learning experience for all children.

AACTE Welcoming Session Reframes Effective Teaching for Equity

The Welcoming Session kicked off the AACTE 68th Annual Meeting with a keynote from Pedro Noguera, distinguished professor at the University of California Los Angeles and one of the nation’s most important voices on education and equity issues.

Noguera challenged the audience to take a closer look at what it means to be a highly effective teacher. As the American student population becomes increasingly diverse and opportunities remain profoundly unequal, he argued that more teachers must have the ability to teach effectively across race, class, language, and cultural differences.

“The best teachers teach the way students learn rather than expecting students to learn the way they teach,” Noguera said.

Hope Street Group Report: Teachers Reflect on Preparation

A new survey report from the Hope Street Group (HSG) presents perspectives of nearly 2,000 classroom teachers on their own preparation and that of future educators, aiming to inform both preparation program improvement and state and federal policy. The report, On Deck: Preparing the Next Generation of Teachers, asks whether teachers are being prepared effectively for the realities of today’s classrooms and what changes to curriculum, clinical experiences, and accountability measures might be needed.

The study was conducted by 18 HSG National Teacher Fellows, who are practicing classroom teachers and instructional coaches from 17 states. Last fall, they collected data through surveys and focus groups from other practicing teachers in their regions on their experiences and perceptions of how well teacher preparation providers are doing. Participating teachers ranged from 1 to 31 years of experience and came from all grade levels and subjects and from rural, urban, and suburban settings.

Call for Proposals: JUSTEC 2016

The 28th annual seminar of the Japan-U.S. Teacher Education Consortium (JUSTEC) will be held November 4-7, 2016, at Japan’s Ehime University. Conference organizers invite proposals for paper and poster presentations by May 15 under the theme “Collaborative Teacher Education With Local Communities.”

This year’s theme is conceptualized this way:

When we look at trends in formal education, the centralized administrative approach prevails more and more in both the United States and Japan. Such an approach has been pointed out by a number of reports to often produce detachment of teachers’ practices from local conditions and needs. On the other hand, when we look into region-oriented alternative approaches, we can still discover a considerable number of successful cases with alternative methods. JUSTEC 2016 sets a conference theme, “Collaborative Teacher Education with Local Communities,” to explore regionally developed teacher education practices, created with local schools and related parties.

AASCU Invites Applications for Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) invites applications for the Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award, which honors exemplary teacher education and professional development programs at AASCU-member public colleges and universities. The submission deadline for this year’s award is April 22.

To win this award, teacher education and professional development programs at AASCU institutions must not only demonstrate effectiveness in producing PK-12 learning outcomes; award winners must also demonstrate and explain how they have redesigned their programs as a result of these PK-12 learning outcomes (including, but not limited to, state data—when and where this is available).

Promising Principles for Safeguarding Student Information

As performance assessment of teacher candidates becomes more widespread and as more video evidence is collected in classrooms, we have to make sure that everyone involved with these videos—and other artifacts assembled for assessment purposes—understands how they may and may not be used. I’m pleased to report that a broad base of educators, convened by AACTE to bring various stakeholders’ perspectives to the discussion, is making promising strides to help safeguard the personal information of both teacher candidates and the students in their classes.

I wrote about the importance of this topic last year (see “Safeguarding Student Data Is Everyone’s Business”), celebrating the White House’s call for heightened attention to protecting students’ digital privacy. The whole education field must engage in this campaign, and AACTE takes its role seriously. Since last fall, we have been convening an Information Privacy Task Force to develop principles regarding the secure and ethical use of classroom video and associated materials collected in performance assessments of newly prepared teachers.

AACTE Major Forum Explores Pathways Needed to Advance Diversity Through Recruitment, Retention Strategies

Holmes/NIC Major Forum
Holmes Scholar Whitney Watkins shares a student’s perspective during a major forum at the AACTE 68th Annual Meeting

Over the past few years, AACTE has been leading efforts to advance teacher diversity in the education workforce through the establishment of the AACTE Black and Hispanic/Latino Male Teachers Initiative Networked Improvement Community (NIC) and the expansion of the AACTE Holmes Program. Both initiatives are dedicated to increasing the recruitment and retention of educators from historically underrepresented groups into the education profession. The NIC’s work is identifying and testing strategies to increase the recruitment and retention of Black, Hispanic, and Latino males in the teaching workforce, and the Holmes Program supports aspiring educators at various points in their education careers to enter teaching, administration, policy, and the professoriate.  

A Practitioner’s Reflections From AACTE Annual Meeting

As a practicing high school classroom teacher, I have made it a point to be aware of educational happenings. When the Common Core standards were introduced I learned what they were and whom they affected and thought about the impacts on how I would teach the upcoming students. As edTPA and other higher education reforms began to occur I registered to score edTPA to learn about what it was. I continued to monitor the higher education landscape from a distance. I remained in close contact with three institutions of higher education where conversations would dabble in shifts but never seemed to be too urgent.

Looking from the outside in, it is easy to deduce why you think certain things are occurring. Prior to attending the AACTE Annual Meeting, I had some experience working in teacher preparation during the summer and by hosting preservice teachers. I updated my knowledge of changes in law during my fall focus groups, researched factors impacting teacher preparation that connected findings from our Hope Street Group Teacher Preparation Report, and even spoke with individuals who worked within teacher prep at various universities within New York State. I perceived myself as well informed with (as always) some room for growth.

Speaker Spotlight Session Urges Multidimensional Perspectives

The AACTE Speaker Spotlight Session ended the 68th Annual Meeting February 25 by focusing on the tough questions facing educator preparation across the nation. Panelists urged the audience to tackle complex issues by addressing them as a community, going beyond a one-dimensional viewpoint. They expressed what they saw as the greatest challenges facing the field, ways to enhance the educator pipeline, and models that will foster growth within the education workforce.

The panel was moderated by Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York. Panelists included National Board Certified Teacher Cheryl Redfield from Highland Junior High (AZ); Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA: The School Superintendents Association; Anthony S. Bryk, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and Carol Basile, dean and professor in the College of Education at the University of Missouri Saint Louis.

New Action on Proposed Regulations on Teacher Preparation Programs

While we were convening at the 68th AACTE Annual Meeting, the U.S. Department of Education made its next move on the proposed regulations on teacher preparation programs. The Department sent the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a supplemental Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) focused on the distance education portion of the proposed regulations. OMB will review the supplemental NPRM prior to publishing it in the Federal Register.

We won’t know exactly what information the Department is seeking until the supplemental NPRM is issued. We also don’t know how long the comment period might be—but it could be as short as 30 days, so we will need to be ready to respond.

New ESSA Resource Available, Negotiated Rule Making Announced

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released a new document of frequently asked questions (PDF) on the transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from the No Child Left Behind Act.

While this 17-page document does not answer every question, it provides key hyperlinks and covers a range of topics, from state flexibility to requirements under different sections of the law. The Department will continue to update the document in the coming months.

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