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Demystifying Clinical Practice in Teacher Preparation

This post also appears on the Public School Insights blog of the Learning First Alliance.

Educators from PK-12 schools and higher education share the goal of preparing preservice teachers in a way that develops candidates’ skills, contributes positively to student growth, and stimulates mutual renewal of schools and collegiate preparation programs. The conception of clinical experience as a few weeks of student teaching not only is antiquated but runs counter to our professional commitment to quality. Instead, today’s preparation programs are nurturing complex clinical partnerships with yearlong residencies or internships that both produce beginning teachers who are practice-ready and support a process that strengthens the schools’ capacity to deliver high-quality education for their students.

STEM Conference Inspires, Shares Strategies to Close Gaps

AACTE’s Washington Week kicked off with diverse perspectives, enlightening anecdotes, and compelling conversations at the special conference “Progress and Factors That Contribute to Closing the STEM Achievement Gap,” sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Five presenters joined AACTE leaders on two panels discussing ways to improve learning outcomes of underrepresented populations in the STEM fields.

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Hall Davidson, Vasanta Akondy, and Armando Sanchez-Martinez at STEM Conference

The conference began with presenters Armando Sanchez-Martinez, manager of Editorial Santillana in Mexico, and Vasanta Akondy, co-manager of the Verizon Innovative Learning Program (VILP), who together provided a global perspective on innovative solutions to increase access to STEM education in Mexico and India.

Sanchez-Martinez presented a comprehensive look into Mexico’s educational landscape, including a detailed explanation of sociocultural factors that contribute to local achievement gaps and of the current educational movements and solutions to closing the gap. Akondy highlighted the importance of VILP and its efforts to recruit more girls in India into the STEM fields. The aim of this program is to provide a community network of support while focusing on student engagement and providing technological resources to underfunded schools.

STEM Conference to Bring New Dimension to Washington Week

Today, AACTE’s Washington Week kicks off with a full lineup of interactive sessions, discussions, and advocacy around educator preparation. In addition to our traditional advocacy-focused events, we are hosting a special conference this afternoon on closing the student achievement gap in the critical subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, today’s conference will feature a multidisciplinary group of education researchers, practitioners, and scientists who will share their theoretical approaches and successful models for promoting the STEM achievement. The panelists will also discuss how to build collaborative, interdisciplinary partnerships for addressing the U.S. achievement gap in STEM subjects—drawing on international lessons—as well as ways to improve learning outcomes of underrepresented populations in the STEM fields.

NEA Symposium Spotlights Strategies to Close Gaps in Educational Opportunity

Earlier this month, we were excited and honored to attend the symposium “Closing the Gaps: A Policy and Practice Conversation to Advance an Opportunity Agenda,” presented by the National Education Association at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. It was a thought-provoking event, filled with great speakers and compelling strategies for closing gaps in student achievement and opportunity.

Panelists included Linda Darling-Hammond (Stanford University), Robert Balfanz (Johns Hopkins University), Kisha Davis-Caldwell (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards), Ron Ferguson (Harvard University), and many others. These speakers discussed gap-closing strategies, policy levers to support effective practices, and directions the education field will (and should) take in the future. They also consistently emphasized the importance of community engagement.

AACTE Applauds Committee Passage of Every Child Achieves Act

AACTE applauds the leadership of U.S. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) on the unanimous, bipartisan passage of the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECA). AACTE is pleased with the committee’s progress on the long overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The bill moves away from the "test and punish" strategy that evolved from the implementation of the current version of ESEA, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. While the bill retains the requirement for annual assessments disaggregated by subgroups, it leaves states, schools, teachers, and parents to determine what to do about the results of those assessments. AACTE believes students would benefit from stronger accountability for subgroup results, but overall, the bill makes important bipartisan progress toward fixing a broken law.

Member Voices: Opting Out of Our Future

Editor’s Note: Former AACTE Board member and education dean Nancy Zimpher reminds readers of the important purpose of standardized testing, which has been overshadowed by recent political battles and opt-out campaigns. This essay originally appeared on the State University of New York’s Big Ideas blog and is reposted with permission. The opinions expressed in this essay do not necessarily reflect the position of AACTE.

When it comes to whether students should opt out of standardized testing, no one is actually talking about what’s best for our kids. Standardized tests have become a pawn in political debates about teacher evaluations and we have lost sight of what they are: a way to measure what students know so we can help them improve.

Apples to Oranges: Comparing Student Performance Across Countries With Varied Socioeconomic Conditions

In the three decades since A Nation at Risk was released, the state of America’s education system relative to other countries’ has been a matter of heated debate. Along the way, public opinion has placed the onus for our schools’ perceived failure on teachers and their preparation, and education policy has echoed this assumption through an array of accountability measures for teachers and preparation programs.

One driver of the continued misconception about U.S. teacher quality is the highly publicized results of international large-scale education assessments (ILSAs) that suggest America’s students are performing far below other nations. At January’s press briefing for the report The Iceberg Effect, lead researcher and report author James Harvey explained that ILSAs have been misused and that the science behind them is highly questionable, akin to comparing apples to oranges.

‘The Iceberg Effect’—Not Just About Asking Questions

Upon arriving at AACTE last month to begin our semester-long internship, we were whisked off to the National Press Club for a press briefing on The Iceberg Effect, based on the new studySchool Performance in Context: Indicators of School Inputs and Outputs in Nine Similar Nations. For three doctoral students who are dedicated to promoting social justice in and out of the classroom, this could not have been a more fitting introduction to our work at AACTE.

The report, released by the National Superintendents Roundtable and the Horace Mann Foundation, casts new light on U.S. students’ performance on international assessments, controlling for social and economic factors that have not been previously studied alongside student achievement on this scale. The results highlight the relatively strong academic achievement of America’s students in spite of our nation’s poor performance in providing supports to help offset the widespread social and economic effects of poverty.

AACTE Receives NSF Grant for International STEM Conference

The National Science Foundation has awarded AACTE $72,820 to support a conference in 2015 on closing the student achievement gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The event will help participants address the following objectives:

  • To review current research on the achievement gap in mathematics and science with a focus on school-related variables that adversely affect outcomes from low-income and minority students
  • To discuss teacher quality and effective teaching in STEM
  • To identify effective strategies and models that promote equity in education and that close the STEM achievement gap
  • To build collaborative, interdisciplinary partnerships for addressing the U.S. achievement gap in STEM subjects

Innovation at Rutgers: Preparing Effective Physics Teachers

The Innovations Inventory of AACTE’s Innovation Exchange is an online database highlighting members’ pioneering practices in educator preparation that have shown a positive impact on issues of student learning, preparation program advancement, or educator workforce needs. This blog post is one in a series highlighting entries from the inventory. To request inclusion of your institution’s innovations, contact Zach VanHouten at zvanhouten@aacte.org.  

Rutgers University (NJ) is making a big impact on physics education through an innovative program housed in the Graduate School of Education.

Innovation at Lesley University: Assessment System to Support Continuous Improvement

The Innovations Inventory of AACTE’s Innovation Exchange is an online database highlighting members’ pioneering practices in educator preparation that have shown a positive impact on issues of student learning, preparation program advancement, or educator workforce needs. This blog post is one in a series highlighting entries from the inventory. To request inclusion of your institution’s innovations, contact Kristin McCabe at kmccabe@aacte.org.

Faculty in the Graduate School of Education at Lesley University (MA) have built a comprehensive e-portfolio and assessment system to provide data on candidate performance and support continuous improvement processes. The assessment system aligns key formative assignments in initial, professional license, and advanced professional development programs to standards-based program outcomes. Candidates submit all assignments to an e-portfolio system, where faculty score them based on valid and reliable rubrics. The assessment system also contains data on candidate performance on state exams and summative performances from clinical experiences.

Three New TAGs Approved, Open for Membership

AACTE is pleased to announce that three new topical action groups (TAGs) have been established and are accepting new members:

The Research in Teacher Preparation TAG is dedicated to identifying current research gaps in teacher preparation literature to guide collaborative research projects among TAG members.

The Assessment of and for Student Learning TAG is dedicated to determining which national and local assessment standards and tools are most valuable to establish “core assessment principals” and developing a paradigm of PK-12 student performance assessment that is appropriate for the 21st century.

Innovation at Arizona State University: iTeachAZ

The Innovations Inventory of AACTE’s Innovation Exchange is an online database highlighting members’ pioneering practices in educator preparation that have shown a positive impact on issues of student learning, preparation program advancement, or educator workforce needs. This blog post is one in a series highlighting entries from the inventory. To request inclusion of your institution’s innovations, contact Jessica Milton at jmilton@aacte.org.

In response to the call for increased rigor and effectiveness in teacher preparation, one of the largest teacher preparation programs in the country, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University (ASU), implemented iTeachAZ. The program includes changes in teacher preparation that focus on improvements in candidates’ content knowledge mastery, classroom readiness, and assessment literacy. The program provides a senior-year residency experience that extends student teaching from a single semester to a full school year, enabling students to live the “full life” of a teacher. ASU has also integrated performance assessments throughout the teacher preparation program.

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