AACTE, Westat Piloting Surveys of EPP Graduates, Supervisors

AACTE and Westat are partnering with state chapters and education agencies this spring to pilot new surveys of beginning teachers and their supervisors. By developing common instruments to be used across states that can also be customized with state-specific questions, the partners aim to fill the need for both national benchmarks for preparation programs (as called for in accreditation standards) and state-determined priorities.

AACTE staff conducted exploratory work last year, collecting and studying state-level instruments currently used for surveying program completers in 13 states that were willing to share both their instruments and their most recent survey results. We found that all of the instruments align with the InTASC model standards for beginning teachers, although their length and emphasis areas vary. Meanwhile, we began talking with state education agencies (SEAs) and AACTE state chapters and member institutions to gauge their interest in consolidating these state and institution data collection efforts in a national-level instrument.

Based on the positive response from the field and our analysis of existing instruments, AACTE partnered with Westat to begin drafting the surveys. A group of AACTE state chapter leaders and SEA officials from Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, New York, and Pennsylvania provided valuable guidance along the way.

The Hawaii Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (HACTE) is part of the state’s Teacher Education Coordinating Committee (TECC), which includes representatives from not only educator preparation programs (EPPs) but also the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board, the Hawaii Department of Education, and the Hawaii State Teachers Association. They had already been exploring the possibility of a shared survey tool for principals, so they welcomed the opportunity to participate in this effort with AACTE and Westat, said HACTE president Jessica Miranda, who is director of assessment, accreditation, and accountability in the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Education. “Having a common instrument that is administered in collaboration with the state will aid EPPs in gathering valuable information about our graduates and their employers’ perceptions of their preparation for the field of teaching.”

Susie Lagos-Lavenz of the University of Iowa, who serves as president of Iowa’s chapter, agreed. “A consistently designed and implemented survey for our very mobile teachers will assist with continuous improvement on a program and state level as well as a national level,” she said.

The draft survey instruments have three distinct sections: demographics, including information on graduates’ program of preparation and teaching position; core questions based on InTASC standards; and state-specific questions (although these are not part of the pilot test; we will continue to develop this section after the initial pilot). With SEAs’ collaboration, the first section will be prepopulated, and SEAs will send out invitations to complete the remaining information using survey links provided by Westat.

These surveys are part of AACTE’s new Bortner Data Initiatives (funded by a generous endowment from Doyle M. & Alba P. Bortner), which will include a variety of reporting, aggregation, and benchmarking projects that build on existing data collections as well as new ones. We believe this latest survey will significantly enrich the evidentiary corpus and enable more granular scrutiny of program features as well as more meaningful comparisons across programs and states. It could also improve response rates and streamline reporting for supervisors who currently receive multiple program-level surveys rather than a common state-level one. Miranda noted that Hawaii’s TECC is eager to “reduce the number of requests being sent to our school principals from each EPP for similar data.”

Westat and the states will administer the survey through the end of May, providing updates on response rates to participating institutions on a scheduled basis. If your EPP (or your chapter) would like to participate in the pilot this year or for more information, please contact me at shsu@aacte.org as soon as possible.

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Sungti Hsu

Director of State Affiliate and Partnership Support