The demographic diversity of the teachers in America’s classrooms does not reflect that of the students they are teaching. In light of this persistent gap, many teacher preparation programs have bolstered their efforts – or developed new strategies – to recruit, admit, and support teacher candidates from underrepresented groups. Several AACTE member institutions are participating in a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) to boost the number of Black and Latino men in their teacher preparation programs, for example, and many others are at work in other national efforts and local partnerships.
Earlier this month, I was interested to learn of a related research project under way at Educational Testing Service (ETS) to explore efforts to diversify the teacher pipeline. As one part of this research, ETS hopes to identify successful strategies in postsecondary educator preparation programs and to help disseminate information to others. (AACTE is partnering with ETS to help support our members using performance assessments, but this research is not related to our partnership.)
The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification held its annual Ted Andrews Winter Symposium January 4-6 in San Diego, California, convening educators from varied settings around the topic “Teacher Recruitment and Retention: Innovation Through Collaboration.”
The theme of partnership-driven innovation was reinforced through a number of sessions in which AACTE members presented along with colleagues from the PK-12 sector and from state education authorities. I was pleased to address the group on the topic of teacher recruitment policy and practice from providers’ perspective. Other notable sessions on the program included these:
In support of AACTE’s mission to build capacity for high-quality educator preparation programs, we are excited to announce plans for new regional workshops focused on performance assessment, continuous improvement, and quality assurance.
Three of these Quality Support Workshops will be offered in 2017, tentatively scheduled for spring in the south, summer in the midwest, and fall in the northwest. Specific details will be announced this fall.
Assessment matters for teachers. Teachers target and differentiate instruction based on evidence gathered in classroom assessments. Teams of teachers in schools review assessment evidence to understand student needs and to guide curriculum development. Parents, teachers, and students themselves make use of assessment results to make the most of learning opportunities. Assessment and interpretation of assessment results is also sometimes a particular challenge for novice teachers, and it is often the subject of school and district professional development efforts. With so many tests, so many strategies, and so much evidence, assessment is a wide and sometimes confusing topic.
Ask any new teacher what part of their preparation was most important, and the answer will almost always be the final clinical component—the student teaching, internship, or residency experience. But while everyone seems to agree that high-quality clinical experience is critical to high-quality preparation, a persistent set of challenges have stood in the way of widespread implementation: identifying excellent clinical faculty, providing adequate time in clinical placements, and helping candidates, particularly those of limited means, navigate the full-time demands of unpaid student teaching or internships.
Navigating the opportunities and challenges that new data sources and reporting requirements present was a frequent theme at this year’s AACTE Annual Meeting. In one well-attended session, representatives of the group Deans for Impact (DFI) released their latest policy paper, From Chaos to Coherence: A Policy Agenda for Accessing and Using Outcomes Data in Educator Preparation, also described here on the DFI blog. (You may recall that DFI, started in 2015 by Benjamin Riley when he left the New Schools Venture Fund, shares AACTE’s commitment to using outcomes-focused data to inform and improve educator preparation. Its 22 member deans include 15 from current AACTE member institutions, many of whom serve or have served on AACTE committees and in other leadership roles.)
The brief calls on policy makers to make better data on graduates’ performance in the field available to programs—an important priority that resonates across the educator preparation profession. As the report notes, despite widespread calls for connecting evidence of new teachers’ effectiveness back to their preparation programs, “there has been no coordinated effort to provide these programs with valid, reliable, timely, and comparable data about the [educators] they prepare” (p. 2). Individual institutions, state university systems, AACTE state chapters and their leadership group, and our accreditor have all called attention to this persistent problem.
What do teachers and school leaders need to know about assessment, and how are preparation programs helping preservice educators to develop assessment literacy? And once program completers are employed, how can school districts support their ongoing growth?
To explore these questions, Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) has established a Task Force on Assessment Education for Teachers, on which I serve along with others involved in preservice and in-service educator preparation. And we want to hear from you!
Last month, we were honored to participate and speak at a convening to support teacher educators in their work to prepare teachers to educate all learners, including students with disabilities. At the meeting in Indianapolis in August, the University of Florida’s Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center convened educator preparation leaders from the center’s partner states to support their shared reform agenda.
AACTE is pleased to open registration for its first in-depth Online Professional Seminar (OPS), Creating a Quality Assurance System, with the first 4-week section launching August 10 and additional sections beginning throughout the fall semester. Participants from AACTE member institutions receive a significant discount on the registration fee, but the seminars are open to the public as part of the Association’s Quality Support Initiative.
Already, hundreds of educators have participated in the two free introductory seminars, OPS #1: Building Quality Assessments and OPS #2: Using Data for Improvement. Additional sections of these two free seminars are still open for registration on a first-come, first-served basis.
I am delighted to announce AACTE’s new Quality Support Initiative, which is designed to provide resources and support to educators interested in assessment and accreditation. Starting next month, we will offer Online Professional Seminars (OPSs) for faculty at AACTE member and nonmember institutions, undergraduate and graduate students, PK-12 teachers—or anyone involved in educator preparation.
As part of our mission to advocate and build capacity for high-quality educator preparation, AACTE has established this initiative to support the profession’s work in continuous improvement and accreditation. The OPSs provide professional development for individuals and promote organizational development for institutions in a convenient, flexible format.