JTE Author Investigates Predictive Validity of CAEP Standard 3.2

Have you seen the JTE Insider blog managed by the Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) editorial team? Check out the following interview with the author of a recent article. This blog is available to the public, and AACTE members have free access to the articles themselves in the full JTE archives online—just log in with your AACTE profile here.

This interview features insights from the article "Predictive Validity and Impact of CAEP Standard 3.2: Results From One Master’s-Level Teacher Preparation Program," written by Carla Evans of the University of New Hampshire. The article, which appears in the September/October issue of JTE, is summarized in the following abstract:

This study investigates the predictive validity and policy impact of Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) minimum admission requirements in Standard 3.2 on teacher preparation programs (TPPs), their applicants, and the broader field of educator preparation. Undergraduate grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores from 533 program graduates in one master’s-level TPP were examined for their ability to predict graduate GPA and the effect minimum admissions criteria had on enrollment. Findings indicate that only undergraduate GPA is moderately related to a program graduate’s success, controlling for student background characteristics. The study also finds that implementing GRE scores as a criterion in admissions decisions significantly reduces the number of admitted candidates so that the program may no longer be financially sustainable. These findings suggest many negative consequences may result from minimum admission requirements and more research is needed to evaluate the potential impact on other TPPs, teacher labor markets, and student learning outcomes.

Q: What motivated you to pursue this particular research topic?

A: Leaders in the Education Department, Division of Educator Preparation, at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) wanted to investigate the relationship between teacher candidates’ undergraduate GPA and GRE scores and "success" in UNH’s master’s-level teacher preparation program. The Education Department asked me to conduct this study because they were concerned about the ramifications on admissions of the newly adopted CAEP accreditation standards. In particular, CAEP Standard 3.2, as originally written, required cohort average performance on a nationally normed achievement/ability test in the top third of the national distribution by 2020. This is an incredibly high bar for performance on the GRE, and leaders in the Division of Educator Preparation at UNH wanted to ensure that more rigorous admissions requirements were actually predictive of success and teacher candidate quality given the potential impact on admissions. It is also important to note that the number of applicants to UNH’s teacher preparation program had been in decline for several years prior to the new accreditation standards, and therefore leaders in the Division of Educator Preparation were already concerned about declining enrollments.

Q: Were there any specific external events (political, social, economic) that influenced your decision to engage in this research study?

A: As mentioned above, this research study was influenced by the new CAEP national accreditation standards adopted in 2013 that resulted from a merger of the two national accreditation boards. The heightened accountability requirements reflected in the new CAEP standards resulted from a socio-political context and policy discourse that is attempting to causally link teacher effectiveness and teacher preparation effectiveness to student achievement outcomes. Interestingly, CAEP Standard 3.2 was rewritten to be more lenient during the time it took for this study to be peer reviewed and published, and the accrediting board attempted to clarify the different ways teacher preparation programs could meet this standard. I rewrote the introduction and conclusion to this article a couple of times because of that changing policy context. I think this is important because it seems to me that the heightened state of concern and euphoric optimism about teacher evaluation reforms such as value-added models has waned in the last couple of years and may continue to impact how the CAEP standards are implemented in practice.

Q: What were some difficulties you encountered with the research?

A: Most of the difficulties I encountered in this research study resulted from the limited outcome data available from the program on teacher candidates. The Education Department collects information on student "success" in student teaching, but that information is based on teacher candidates’ goal setting and is not easily usable in a quantitative research study. This made it difficult to use multiple outcome measures beyond graduate GPA, which typically suffers from range restriction and is not necessarily the best measure of teacher candidates’ success in the program or their eventual effectiveness as an in-service teacher.

Q: What current areas of research are you pursuing?

A: My research focuses on the impact and implementation of assessment and accountability policies on teaching and learning. Right now, I’m conducting research on the effects of an innovative assessment and accountability system (New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment of Competency Education pilot) on student achievement outcomes over the first 3 years of the pilot (2014-2017). This research relates to the provision under the Every Student Succeeds Act that allows up to seven states to apply for a waiver from federal regulations related to state annual achievement testing in order to pilot innovative systems. I’m also doing research to validate a school-level competency-based education implementation survey and using results from the seven Northeast states to examine results from that survey across different state policy contexts.

Q: What new challenges do you see for the field of teacher education?

A: First let me say that I am not an expert in the field of teacher education, and there are many others more qualified to answer this question than I. That being said, I have been thinking a lot about the rhetoric surrounding teacher effectiveness and, specifically, some of the policy swings that have taken place more recently related to state-level teacher evaluation policies. I think one challenge for the field of teacher education is going to be that the teaching profession may seem less appealing as a career for some individuals as a result of the negative rhetoric surrounding teacher quality. Many teacher education programs are already facing a downturn in enrollment that will eventually affect staffing, resources, and support structures within institutions—all of which can then affect program quality. I foresee this as a challenge for the field of teacher education because the field itself may need to more persuasively push back on the negative rhetoric and make a compelling case that (a) attracting the "best and brightest" is not possible in a context where the teaching profession itself is not valued by society, and (b) using K-12 student outcomes as a significant criterion of teacher or teacher preparation program quality is problematic at best.

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