What Data and Measures Should Inform Teacher Preparation? Reclaiming Accountability

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Date: November-December 2018
From: Journal of Teacher Education(Vol. 69, Issue 5)
Publisher: Corwin Press, Inc.
Document Type: Editorial
Length: 2,387 words
Lexile Measure: 1630L

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For at least two decades, the policy context surrounding teacher education has emphasized the importance of teacher quality and a need for reliable systems to evaluate teacher preparation programs (Cochran-Smith et al., 2018; Feuer, Floden, Chudowsky, & Ahn, 2013). The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2002) mandated "highly qualified" teachers in every classroom, and the subsequent Race to the Top (RTTT, 2011; GovTrack.us, 2018) legislation of the Obama administration continued this trend with a focus on "highly-effective teachers" (Hess & McShane, 2014). During this time, teachers' impact on student learning, especially, as represented by value-added scores based on state testing programs, was strongly emphasized in policies about the quality of teachers and teacher preparation programs (Noell & Burns, 2006; U.S. Department of Education, 2011), and causes of school failure were attributed in large part to teacher education programs and schools lacking evidence-based data to inform program reform.

More recently, national level accountability systems that could help evaluate teacher preparation programs and teachers' performance have gained prominence (Floden, Richmond, Drake, & Petchauer, 2017). Evaluations of teacher preparation programs have been done by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). A nationally available teacher performance assessment, the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), has been adopted in 12 states (edtpa.aacte.org/faq). Various measures were proffered, examined, and cautioned, such as value-added models (e.g., Floden, 2012; Goldhaber, Cowan, & Theobald, 2017; Henry, Kershaw, Zulli, & Smith, 2012), student assessment scores (e.g., Lavery, Nutta, & Youngblood, 2018), and frameworks for teaching (e.g., Nava et al., 2018).

The types of measures selected and what they measure are not neutral, however, but rather reflect specific priorities and goals for schooling. For example, some view what they call the "dominant accountability paradigm" (Cochran-Smith et al., 2018) as reflecting market ideology and neoliberalism in education, privileging subject matter and often disconnected from the experiences and needs of students and teachers from nondominant communities (Lipman, 2011; Richmond, Bartell, & Dunn, 2016). Others call for building on what they see as a rich body of research that identifies knowledge and skills aimed at promoting democratic and socially just education and commitments in practice (e.g., Cochran-Smith et al., 2009; Crowley & Apple, 2009; Kumashiro, 2015; McDonald, 2005; Zeichner, Payne, & Brayko, 2014). Still others call for a focus on student performance on measures aligned with national content standards such as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS, Achieve Inc., 2013) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS; National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010).

This poses a dilemma for teacher education, which we have described in earlier editorials (Richmond et al., 2016): As we necessarily work within a system that warrants accountability, how might we "reclaim" accountability (Cochran-Smith et al., 2018) to support teacher candidates' preparation for the realities of today's schools and for their effective participation in "critical democracy" (Carter Andrews, Richmond, & Floden, 2018)? In this editorial, we call for casting a broader net...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A561343888