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#AACTE19 Opening Keynote Speakers Discuss Accountability in Teacher Education

Opening keynote speakers Marilyn Cochran-Smith of Boston College and Marvin Lynn of Portland State University, explored the challenges with accountability in teacher education in a provocative discussion on Friday, February 22.

Cochran-Smith is the Cawthorne Professor of Teacher Education for Urban Schools in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. A teacher educator for more than 40 years, she stressed that teacher educators are passionate about accountability for the learning and development of the teacher candidates they work with, as well as the students, families, and communities the future teachers will serve.

“I have never met a teacher educator who didn’t feel accountable and who didn’t want to be accountable for his/her work,” said Cochran-Smith. “The trouble with teacher education accountability is not with accountability itself; it’s what teacher education has been held accountable for.”

In her talk, she proposed three questions: Where are we?  How did we get here? Where else could we be? Cochran-Smith addressed the questions by referring to the book she co-authored, Reclaiming Accountability in Teacher Education, in which she and her colleagues analyze the major accountability initiatives: the Department of Education regulations, CAEP accreditation procedures, National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) teacher preparation reviews, and edTPA.

“In short, the teacher education scene is a tangled web of multiple overlapping accountability relationships,” she said. In analyzing the major accountability measures, Cochran suggests an accountability that puts teacher educators at the center of the decision-making about what accounts for quality.

Cochran-Smith framed her argument by stating, “We need a different way to think about and a different way to do accountability in teacher education—a way that doesn’t begin with deficit perspectives about teachers, teacher educators, and teacher education programs, a way that enhances equity and supports our democracy.”

In response, Lynn commends Cochran-Smith. “Our profession is truly at a crossroads,” he said. “Dr. Cochran-Smith continues to push us to consider where we might go next.”

Lynn, the dean of the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University, is an internationally recognized expert on race and education and the lead editor of the Handbook of Critical Race Theory in Education.  He has served on the CAEP Council and he continues to serve as a longstanding member of the edTPA policy advisory board. As a dean, he has had to respond to NCTQ in different contexts.

In his remarks, Lynn expressed concern about ensuring that democracy within the context of teacher education policy and practice doesn’t turn into what legal scholar Lani Guinier frames as “The Tyranny of the Majority.”

“How do we advance a democratic praxis when we are increasingly polarized along the lines of race, class, sexuality, gender identity and so on?” he asked. “How do we honor the voices, perspectives, and experiences of faculty of color, for example, in predominately White institutions?”

Lynn emphasized the importance of grappling with these issues in order to advance the democratic vision Cochran-Smith proposes. “We would have to be intentional about honoring the histories, perspectives, and experiences of communities of color in this new accountability framework,’’ he said. “We would need to be explicit in our attention to the recruitment and retention of teachers of color while fostering a broader project for advancing culturally sustaining pedagogies in teacher education programs and in P-12 schools.”

A video recording of the full AACTE 2019 Opening General Session, is available to Annual Meeting attendees at aacte.org. Additional video recordings of the closing General Session and all Deeper Dives from the 71st Annual Meeting may be accessed in the AACTE Resource Library.

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Katrina Norfleet

Content Strategist, AACTE