Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CAEP + NCTQ = A True Measure of Teacher Preparation Success?

I get to do research and write research-related emails for my company, and yes, I said "get to." The emails are sent out to our customers as a service. One of the recent emails provided some highlights of what might end up being a really interesting confluence of events.

Not too long ago, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) published a report on teacher preparation that caused considerable controversy, and not just because of the content of the report but perceptions of the research and reporting methods used by NCTQ. NCTQ claims its report is "an unprecedented evaluation of more than 1,100 colleges and universities that prepare elementary and secondary teachers. As a consumer tool, it allows aspiring teachers, parents and school districts to compare programs and determine which are doing the best--and worst--job of training new teachers."

Let's assume the report has validity. Potentially, school districts have more information about the likely quality of student teachers, which is valuable information when a school administrator has to decide whether or not to accept student teachers from a particular university. Program that don't fare well in the report will find it difficult, if not impossible, to place student teachers for their student teaching. The implications for the university, the program, and the students are profound.

But this brings me to the second event. Universities routinely go through different kinds of accreditation. Education programs were accredited, until recently, through NCATE. The process can be daunting for many programs and is exhausting for the team putting together the accreditation materials. I've been on both sides of that process and I must confess that being an NCATE reviewer can be as difficult. But that whole accreditation process is about to get. . .harder.

CAEP is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, and CAEP has introduced some new standards with new requirements with what some say are more rigorous expectations. The CAEP standards are in five broad categories: 1) equipping candidates with content knowledge and appropriate pedagogical tools; 2) working in partnership with districts to provide strong student-teaching practice and feedback; 3) recruiting a diverse and academically strong group of candidates; 4) demonstrating that graduates are successful boosting P-12 students’ academic achievement; and 5) maintaining a quality assurance system. Programs will be expected to provide evidence of compliance, to trace graduates into the field and measure their success in the field as a measure of the success of their preparation, by extension, as a measure of the success of the program.

Let's assume the accreditation process brings clarity to the expectations, specifically what constitutes evidence. And let's assume that teacher education programs get specific reasons for success as well as failure with specific suggestions of ways those programs might improve to excel.

What I imagine could be downright amazing is if NCTQ took those CAEP standards seriously and collaborated with CAEP to build a rubric or used the CAEP accreditation rubric as part of its comparative reporting process to show explicitly and specifically what a successful teacher education program looks like, and how those teachers are being prepared to succeed in their classes and in their student teaching as well as the adapting and evolving classroom of tomorrow. Now that would be some education reform.

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