Last week, I participated in a summit at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania on implementing and preparing for the Pennsylvania Core Standards. In attendance were the institution’s president and vice provost along with faculty, deans, and other administrators from throughout the university. Administrators and teachers from nearby PK-12 school districts as well as representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Education also joined us.
Following my keynote presentation discussing the fundamental instructional shifts of the Pennsylvania Core, all vested stakeholder groups took part in a conversations addressing the impact of the standards on their programs and the supplemental changes necessary to enact to support implementation. Among the suggested changes were strengthening ties with the PK-12 districts to provide necessary clinical experiences for candidates and deepening core content knowledge of both in-service and preservice teachers. One great idea was for the university to host academies throughout the summer to provide training for PK-12 teachers and administrators.
Policy makers should allow more time for schools to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), according to a statement released today by the Learning First Alliance.
The Alliance—a partnership of leading education organizations, including AACTE—wants policy makers to make sure instructional alignment and various supports are established before they apply high-stakes consequences to CCSS test results.
In support of this agenda, a new web site houses implementation success stories, such as podcasts from selected states, and a collection of other implementation resources.
Starting last week, approximately 4 million students across 36 states and the District of Columbia began taking field tests for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) assessments developed by the PARCC and Smarter Balanced consortia. The field tests are scheduled to run March 24 through June 6.
A few states are piloting the tests on a broader scale. Nearly all students in California, Connecticut, Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota will participate in the field tests.
AACTE has partnered with Achieve Inc. to provide a series of webinars on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) this spring for teacher preparation programs.
In the summer and fall of 2013, AACTE surveyed its members about the activities programs have undertaken relative to CCSS and what resources AACTE might provide to support members’ understanding and capacity to address the standards. A majority of respondents cited access to CCSS-aligned lesson plans and rubrics as the number-one resource they needed.
Today, AACTE released model state legislation to recruit high-achieving students into the teaching profession and incentivize them to teach in our neediest schools.
The Teaching Fellows bill is the first released by AACTE in its initiative to develop model state legislation that is aligned with AACTE’s state policy priorities and with the recommendations from “Excellent Teachers for Each and Every Child: A Guide for State Policy,” a joint effort by AACTE and several partner organizations that was released in December 2013. The initiative reflects AACTE’s goal of promoting sound education policies—grounded in research and practice—that will strengthen the teaching profession and will have a positive impact on students.
The Education Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) met in Washington, DC, last month, considering two new model state bills: the “Student Achievement Backpack Act” and the “Course Choice Act.”
The “Student Achievement Backpack Act” creates a data “backpack” for each K-12 student in the state that would include an electronic learning profile as well as information on the student’s prior teachers, including teachers’ years of experience and licensure information. The act would also authorize parents and K-12 district employees to access these backpacks, which would be transferable between schools and districts. The bill does include provisions to safeguard students’ privacy.
Earlier this month, I participated in a workshop of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation’s State Alliance for Clinical Preparation and Partnerships in Louisville, Kentucky. The 11 states in the alliance (Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Oregon) have formed a network to improve the systemic infrastructure supporting high-quality clinical experiences for teacher candidates. Mark LaCelle-Peterson, senior vice president for Engagement, Research, and Development at CAEP, framed the discussions over the 3 days with the following quote: “We have a system of education, but we do not have a system of clinical preparation.”
A major forum at AACTE’s 2014 Annual Meeting will examine current efforts to redesign secondary mathematics teacher preparation programs so that they correspond to the pedagogical shifts demanded by the Common Core State Standards.
As states and districts across the country are transitioning to the Common Core, understanding the distinct pedagogical and content-specific shifts is a critical element to implementation and teaching practices—which holds significant implications for educator preparation programs. The Common Core math standards, for example, call for significant deep focus in the early grades and eliminate the vast majority of topics covered in current state standards. The secondary grades are restructured in grade bands rather than in content-specific subjects, requiring secondary math courses to be completely redesigned.
State and national policy trends around teaching credentials will be the focus of a major forum at AACTE’s 2014 Annual Meeting, “Maintaining the Value of the Teaching Credential: Challenges and Opportunities.”
The teaching credential is facing challenges at all levels. Several states have devalued the worth of the master’s degree as it relates to advanced certification, and others now award the same credential to new teachers regardless of whether they have completed their preparation. At the federal level, serious discussions are taking place as to what standard, if any, should exist to enter the teaching profession.
A groundbreaking policy guide released today provides state lawmakers and education advocates with a blueprint for practical changes to improve teaching quality in America. The guide recommends policies based on research and state models that have been highly effective in developing and sustaining talented and diverse teaching forces that prepare all students for college, career, and life.