How do you know your graduates are any good?
What should an institutional assessment system include – and what should it not?
How do you establish faculty buy-in for quality assurance?
These aren’t rhetorical questions, or even cruel riddles! They are real questions to be answered at a half-day preconference workshop on quality assurance, to be held Wednesday, February 28, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., in conjunction with the AACTE 70th Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.
AACTE is partnering with the American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) to increase input from educator preparation providers in the organization’s annual teacher supply and demand survey. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
The current shortage of educators is no longer a myth. Data from several reports, including the American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) Educator Supply and Demand Report 2016-17, show that in numerous certification areas in most areas of the country, there are not enough well-qualified candidates to fill educator vacancies. And even in states where the demand for full-time teachers is not as severe as in other states, there is a critical shortage of substitute teachers.
A commission made up of college of education deans, state legislators, university presidents, heads of postsecondary systems, state and district superintendents, and leaders of nationwide organizations has released a report presenting recommendations for state policy related to teacher preparation data systems. This Teacher Preparation Commission of the Southern Regional Education Board, a nonprofit organization that works with states to improve public education and support state policy makers, is charged with developing and identifying state recommendations to improve teacher preparation programs.
More Than the Numbers – Teacher Preparation Data Systems: State Policy and Recommendations, the Commission’s first report, focuses on how to build strong statewide data systems for teacher preparation drawing on policy models in three states – Louisiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee. In Louisiana, the report acknowledges the work of the Board of Regents and the Louisiana Teacher Preparation Program Dashboard for promoting data in a more accessible and transparent way. In North Carolina, the report praises the University of North Carolina Educator Quality Dashboard. In Tennessee, the State Board of Education, Tennessee Department of Education, and Tennessee Higher Education Commission redesigned the state’s Teacher Preparation Report Card to provide an interactive tool for aspiring teachers. Other practices that the report praises are data systems’ ability to follow teachers through their careers, focus on outcome measures, break down data “silos,” and make data more accessible.
“Although the current dialogue about school choice is generally focused on charter schools, vouchers, and the overall diversion of taxpayer monies to private entities, it misses a fundamental reality: Most public school districts already offer a wide range of choices to their students.” This message is at the core of a new report from the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education titled Busting the Myth of “One Size Fits All” Public Education.
At an event unveiling the report earlier this month, panelists discussed the wide variety of alternative options offered in public education. Thomas Gentzel, executive director and CEO of the National School Boards Association, noted that the system has evolved over many years from one that offers limited options into one that molds to students’ diverse needs – providing a greater degree of choice, in fact, than many private schools.
“The three R’s alone don’t cut it anymore,” announces a report released August 28 on the 49th annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. In addition to solid academics, Americans want their schools to provide job training, more explicit focus on social-emotional skills, and “wraparound” services like health centers and afterschool programs. Respondents also want students to learn in diverse classrooms and are skeptical about vouchers and the value of standardized tests.
This year’s survey sought to learn more about last year’s discovery of a desire among the American public for schools to focus less on honors classes and more on career and technical education. The new data suggest that the public really wants both strong academics and job preparation, including classes focused on career skills, technology and engineering, and programs leading to a professional certificate or license. The less satisfied respondents are with their local schools, the more likely they are to say schools should offer more job/career skills classes.
Last week, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released initial data from the 2015-2016 National Teacher and Principal Survey, providing the latest nationwide snapshot of the characteristics of public school teachers. (Results of the school-level survey are being released today, and principal-level data are available here.) The “First Look” report on the teacher survey (download PDF here) shows the education workforce has grown slightly more female (77% compared to 76%) and slightly less White (80% compared to 82%) than it was 4 years ago – although NCES cautions that comparisons are somewhat imprecise because some of the questions were worded differently or drew on different sources than in the former Schools and Staffing Survey, on which the new survey is based.
A recent article in Education Week highlights key data and comparisons between this survey and the last, noting that the education profession has made some advancements in diversifying the teaching workforce. However, these modest gains may be more conditional than intentional, and the survey spotlights continued trouble spots such as low pay and uneven assignment of teacher expertise. What this article says to me is that we must continue to work every day to make teaching a worthy career option, valued for its contributions to the democratic fabric of our society – especially among the most underrepresented demographics. As a profession, we have an ongoing imperative to attract highly motivated, diverse, innovative, smart educators into the profession and support them with programs rich in the pedagogy and content that will serve the nation’s young people well into the future.
The AACTE team has embarked on a new adventure and we can’t wait to share it with you!
This undertaking is engaging all of us in a significant self-study – not unlike what you do on your campuses for quality assurance and continuous improvement – using an improvement science model. Over the next few months, the team will conduct a deep audit of our operations, looking at internal protocols and processes along with membership structures, programs and services, and resources. AACTE is working with the rpk GROUP consulting firm to assist us with this project. This internal work is simultaneous with a comprehensive member survey that is being released next month. These concurrent efforts will empower AACTE as it anticipates its 70th anniversary in 2018.
A new policy brief from the Data Quality Campaign presents recommendations for states to support educator preparation through better sharing and use of information – not just for accountability but also for continuous improvement. The report, Using Data to Ensure That Teachers Are Learner Ready on Day One, calls attention to current data challenges faced by educator preparation providers (EPPs) and offers suggestions and examples for states to improve the situation.
“State education agencies already collect information about teachers, like their licenses, where they teach, and how much they improve student learning, but that information is not consistently shared with EPPs,” the brief states. “On the program side, EPPs are often frustrated by data collection and reporting requirements that do not help them answer important questions about their own program quality. And a lack of publicly available information on EPP outcomes means that EPPs and their stakeholders, from prospective teachers to K-12 principals, too often must spend their own limited time and resources to collect and synthesize information that could be provided by the state.”
The report, developed in partnership with AACTE and several other partner organizations, lists the following primary challenges to using data for EPP improvement:
An education subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing June 28 on “Exploring Opportunities to Strengthen Education Research While Protecting Student Privacy.” Throughout the hearing, hosted by the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, witnesses stressed the need to maintain a balance between safeguarding sensitive student data and allowing researchers access to information that evaluates performance and determines best practices.
Anonymizing the data in order to maintain student privacy was a top concern for the panelists, but Nathaniel Schwartz from the Tennessee Education Department noted that guidelines outlining proper procedures for doing so are lacking at the federal level, leaving states and districts to determine how best to handle the data.
Data, data everywhere – so now what do you do? When you are awash in student test scores, survey responses, or research results, how do you determine what they mean – and what actions to take as a result?
For a concise and engaging introduction to data sources, uses, and improvement processes, try AACTE’s online professional seminar Using Data to Improve Student Outcomes, opening July 17 for a 3-week run on the FutureLearn social-learning platform. It requires only 3 hours per week and costs nothing! (Or you may choose to upgrade your enrollment, for a fee, to participate in tests, obtain a completion certificate, and gain unlimited access to course materials in the future. A completion certificate is required if you plan to become an AACTE consultant.)