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New Standards Released to Guide High School Students on Path to Teaching

New standards developed by Educators Rising to “define what high school students exploring teaching need to know and be able to do to take their first steps on the path to accomplished teaching” were released last week during a launch event at the National Education Association headquarters in Washington, DC.

Educators Rising, launched in August 2015 and powered by PDK International, sought feedback from a variety of community stakeholders before releasing the final standards that aim to embolden the “grow-your-own-teacher” movement emerging in communities and states throughout the country. The standards address understanding the profession, developing strategic relationships and content for students, planning and implementing instruction to meet students’ needs, and using assessments and reflection constructively.

Study Tests Using Teacher Observation Data for Evaluation of EPPs

A new study finds that using observational ratings of beginning teachers may be a viable alternative—or a useful complement—to relying solely on controversial “value-added” modeling (VAM) in evaluation of educator preparation providers (EPPs).

An article about the study by Matthew Ronfeldt and Shanyce Campbell of the University of Michigan School of Education, published in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, is now available online.

In what the authors describe as the first study to investigate the use of teachers’ observational ratings to evaluate their preparation programs and institutions, the results are compelling.

“The demands for teacher preparation accountability continue to grow, from the proposed federal regulations to new accreditation standards,” said Ronfeldt, who was also the 2016 recipient of AACTE’s Outstanding Journal of Teacher Education Article Award. “We sorely need better ways to assess program quality. Although VAM makes an important contribution to our understanding of program outcomes, we likely need multiple measures to capture something as complex as preparation quality. We are excited to find that teacher observational ratings could be a viable supplement.”

In Memoriam: Carol E. Smith

Steele
Carol Smith, 1949–2016

Carol E. Smith, longtime AACTE staffer who deftly guided the Association through the early standards movement and years of accreditation reforms, died June 6 in Falls Church, Virginia. She was 66.

A native of Johnson City, Tennessee, Smith gave 23 years of devoted service to AACTE. After an early career in the banking and legal fields, she joined the AACTE staff as an administrative assistant in 1985 and worked up to senior leadership as vice president for professional issues before leaving in 2008.

Her portfolio of responsibilities was vast, including orchestrating the Association’s liaison with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, contributing to the design of the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, and convening the Task Force on Teacher Education as a Moral Community, among others.

Comment by May 22 on New School Leader Preparation Standards

The National Policy Board for Education Administration (NPBEA) seeks comment by May 22 on new draft standards for leadership preparation programs. Once approved, these preparation standards will replace the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) standards and be used to guide the educational leadership program design, accreditation review, and state approval of preparation programs for principals and superintendents.

The proposed National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP) Standards specify what novice leaders should know and be able to do, at the building and district level, after completing a high-quality educational leadership preparation program. The new draft aligns the standards for preparation programs with the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL) approved by NPBEA last fall. Formerly known as the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards, the PSEL standards articulate the knowledge and skills expected of school leaders broadly.

Collaboration Across State Lines Transforms Educator Preparation

In February, the Louisiana Department of Education hosted representatives from six states in the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP). Formed in 2013, this aligned action network brings together state chiefs and their education agency staff who are committed to activating key policy levers around licensure, program approval, and data as they transform educator preparation in their respective states. As a representative from the Missouri NTEP team, I joined colleagues from five states—Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Washington—on the visit to Baton Rouge to attend Louisiana’s Believe and Prepare Community Meeting and learn from the work of practitioners, programs, and districts across Louisiana leading efforts to improve educator preparation.

Call for Comment: Draft Standards for Educators Rising

Educators Rising, the national network supporting high school students who are interested in the education profession, seeks comment on its brand-new draft standards by April 24.

In partnership with the National Education Association, Educators Rising is coordinating an effort to back-map the road to accomplished teaching into the “pre-preservice” secondary space. Using a committee process modeled after the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Educators Rising brought together accomplished practitioners to draft strong standards for what teenagers should know and be able to do to demonstrate they are developing the skills and dispositions of effective educators.

Becoming ‘NIC Mindful’: The Local Impact of Working in a Networked Improvement Community

In fall 2014, AACTE formed a networked improvement community (NIC) aimed at increasing the number of Black and Latino male teacher candidates in teacher preparation programs. Our College of Education at William Paterson University was among the 10 member colleges selected to participate. As we’ve worked in this collaborative group toward the goal of boosting enrollment of men of color by 25% across our programs, we’ve enjoyed a local impact that reaches well beyond the anticipated range.

The NIC employs the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s “improvement science” methodology to help participants examine our current practices and create new ones that will support the recruitment and retention of more diverse teacher candidates in our programs, and ultimately, their entrance into the teaching workforce.

Professional Standards for Educational Leaders Now Housed at NPBEA

The National Policy Board for Education Administration (NPBEA) has officially assumed leadership for the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL) 2015, a revision of the former Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards. The standards were formerly owned by the Council of Chief State School Officers, which worked with NPBEA to update the document last year with extensive public input.

"Leaders in higher education and principals at all levels of the K-12 continuum engaged in a thoughtful, deliberative process based on the reality of the contemporary principal’s work," said JoAnn Bartoletti, NPBEA president and executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. "Our consensus is that the new standards are aspirational, reflect the complexity of school leadership, and filter the principal’s work through a lens of student-centered practice. They recognize the importance of cultural responsiveness in the context of a role that addresses the needs of each student."​

NNSTOY Releases Report on Teacher Leadership

A new study from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) introduces compelling research on the characteristics of teacher leaders and factors that challenge or support them. The report, Great to Influential: Teacher Leaders’ Roles in Supporting Instruction, follows up on the 2014 study From Good to Great: Exemplary Teachers Share Perspectives on Increasing Teacher Effectiveness Across the Career Continuum. In light of the new study’s findings, the report suggests strategies for school districts to capitalize on the assets presented by teacher leaders, ranging from providing broader career path options to increasing their interaction with preservice and novice educators.

AACTE to Honor JTE Article Linking Field Placements to Graduates’ VAM

AACTE has chosen Matthew Ronfeldt of the University of Michigan School of Education to receive the 2016 AACTE Outstanding Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) Article Award for his article “Field Placement Schools and Instructional Effectiveness,” published in the September/October 2015 issue of the journal. The award will be presented at the 68th AACTE Annual Meeting Speaker Spotlight Session, Thursday, February 25, at The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

Ronfeldt’s study aimed to determine (a) what types of schools in an urban district are used most for preservice field placement, (b) what school characteristics make a difference in the effectiveness (gauged by value-added measures, or VAM, in reading and math) of the teachers placed there, and (c) whether teachers’ effectiveness corresponds to the degree of match between their preparation sites and the schools where they currently work.

NCTQ Says Textbooks Neglect Student Learning Strategies, Adds Related Standard for 2016 ‘Review’

In a report released last week, Learning About Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) evaluates four dozen teacher preparation textbooks for their content of specific student learning strategies. As an offshoot of the exercise, NCTQ will include a new standard, “Fundamentals of Instruction,” for secondary programs in its 2016 Teacher Prep Review.

For Learning About Learning, NCTQ reviewed 48 “relevant textbooks” used at just 28 institutions of higher education to determine whether they include six of the strategies identified as effective by the Institute of Education Sciences’ Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning: A Practice Guide (2007). Finding little of what NCTQ sought, the report contends that textbook authors and publishers (and the preparation programs that assign the texts) are “failing the teaching profession, students, and the public by neglecting to provide our next generation of teachers with the fundamental knowledge they need to make learning ‘stick.’” See also Education Week’s coverage of the new report.

Webinar Explores Preparing Educators for Common Core Math Standards

Last month, AACTE concluded its two-part online series on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with a webinar discussing preparation of preservice teachers for CCSS in mathematics. The webinar highlighted ways to engage candidates in thinking mathematically, figuring things out the way their PK-12 students will need to do, and using mathematics in context to better assist students in their learning.

The webinar, “Preparing Teacher Candidates for Common Core State Standards in Mathematics: The Sequel,” was presented December 15 by Reuben Asempapa from Ohio University along with Fran Arbaugh from Penn State University and Cynthia Vavasseur from Nicholls State University, and moderated by AACTE Senior Director Linda McKee. They discussed strategies for program leaders to work on their campuses to educate mathematicians and mathematics educators about the CCSS in mathematics and to bring them together to effectively prepare future teachers:

The Strategic Value of Literacy Learning

Today, USA Today published a special centerfold feature on literacy in America, accompanied by a digital campaign by Mediaplanet. I was pleased to have the opportunity to author a piece for the campaign, published as “Expanding Literacy Beyond Language Arts.” In the article I describe work that colleges of education are doing to boost literacy among America’s PK-12 students. The 275 words available in USA Today scarcely begin to tell this story, but the message is an important one to get out. Here are a few additional words I’d like to share.

Literacy has become a keystone for all other learning, particularly because of our changing expectations around assessment. Beginning with the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and evolving into today’s college- and career-ready standards such as the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, students now must show competence in all disciplines via writing, speaking, and critical thinking.

Wallace Report Advises State Policy Makers on Strengthening Principal Preparation

On November 3, the Wallace Foundation hosted a policy briefing in Washington, DC, to highlight findings from its recently released report, Developing Excellent School Principals to Advance Teaching and Learning: Considerations for State Policy. Commissioned by the Wallace Foundation and authored by Paul Manna, professor of government and policy at the College of William and Mary (VA), the report addresses the question What can state policy makers do to help ensure that schools have excellent principals who advance teaching and learning in their schools?

During the briefing, Manna presented findings from the report with a focus on the changing role of the principalship, the principal’s position as multiplier of effective teaching and leadership practice, and the impact of state policy making on principal effectiveness. Wallace Foundation President Will Miller underscored these perspectives in his introductory remarks: “There’s growing recognition that principals should no longer mainly be thought of as managers of buildings and bus schedules,” he said. “Indeed, effective leaders are their schools’ chief improvement officers—strengthening instruction, building a culture of high achievement, and supporting teachers and other educators to boost student performance.”

Teacher Preparation Is Smart (Response to ‘Teachers Aren’t Dumb’)

Sometimes the story is as good as the headlines, and sometimes it’s even better. The New York Times op-ed “Teachers Aren’t Dumb” (Sept. 8) by Psychologist Daniel T. Willingham is a case in point. As Willingham notes, contrary to popular belief, new teachers are solid academic performers. And as his article asserts, they can benefit from the research on effective teaching that is being conducted in the schools of education that prepare them. Willingham also points out—with rhetorical hyberbole—that not all preparation programs are using the latest research. While program quality varies, the excellent preparation provided by the universities whose researchers he cites illustrates that teacher education has strong exemplars. Unfortunately, Willingham does not acknowledge the widespread change within the education preparation community.

The direction of today’s preparation programs is truly good news. Willingham accurately identifies two guiding principles for improving teacher preparation and program accountability: evaluate programs based on graduates’ performance on a rigorous, credible culminating assessment, and base that assessment (and programs’ content) on evidence of what works best for student learning.

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