Workshop: Questioning of Practice Key to Quality Assurance

The author presents at the AACTE preconference workshop on quality assurance in Baltimore, Maryland.

The AACTE Committee on Professional Preparation and Accountability (CPPA) is charged with providing leadership in the development of professional consensus on standards, assessment, and practice in educator preparation. Our work is most effective when it is driven by the AACTE membership. The 70th Annual Meeting preconference workshop conducted by CPPA, “Quality Assurance: Moving Beyond Data Collection Towards Assuring Quality,” reinforced the collective wisdom of our profession and the level of care we put into our programs, candidates, and clinical partners.

Those in attendance at the February 28 session repeatedly raised the need for leadership at educator preparation institutions to foster a collaborative culture that constantly questions our practice. We all recognized that there is a delicate balance between the critique of our work and assuring that we are celebrating and advancing those parts of our systems that are working well. The tension most outstanding in our conversations was that of turnover of leadership or faculty in institutions. These observations led to thoughtful discussion by those in attendance to assist colleagues in planning quality assurance processes with an emphasis on program goals and outcomes and how we all could use those goals and outcomes specific to our institutions to keep drawing our faculty, candidates, and clinical partners back to our established priorities and purpose.

Reflecting on this part of the feedback from participants, it is impressive to see how our inclination toward empowering those leading our programs meshed so well with the newly released report of the AACTE Clinical Practice Commission, which states, “The needs and responsibilities of teacher candidates should be factored in curricula and infrastructure development when establishing or growing clinical educator preparation practice and partnerships.” The report goes on to state that to do this requires all of those involved to communicate clearly and on a regular basis. This means we must also make ourselves, as leaders of programs, vulnerable as we share weaknesses requiring us to trust those we have in partnership to pick us up, emphasize our strengths, and take planned and strategic risks to improve our practice for the benefit of children.

The preconference leaders also urged us to jettison those pieces of evidence that are collected for the sake of collection. We must do a better job as advocates of our programs in communicating our sources of valid and reliable evidence to other campus-wide accrediting or assessment bodies, whether internal or external, to enable us to be more efficient and purposeful in our work. Participants discussed the leadership culture necessary to say “no” to those requirements that do not meet our program goals and outcomes—so we can create space to say “yes” to those measures that matter to the preparation of our education professionals.

Supporting initiatives that strengthen linkages among the professional standards for educators, professional educator preparation programs, and student learning is the primary focus of the CPPA. We were honored to learn from our colleagues and to share our collective knowledge at the 70th Annual Meeting. We hope many of you can join us in Columbus, Ohio at our August 2-4, 2018 Quality Support Workshop so we can keep moving forward.

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Joe Lubig

Associate Dean for Education, Leadership, & Public Service, Northern Michigan University