Archives for category: Teacher Education

The National Education Policy Center frequently engages independent scholars to review think tank reports, which are often advocacy reports.

In this report, the NEPC scholars review the latest report from the National Center on Teacher Quality, which was formed about 20 years ago to take down teachers’ colleges. See this post.

NEPC Review: 2020 Teacher Prep Review: Clinical Practice and Classroom Management (October 2020)

Reviewers: Jamy Stillman and  Katherine Schultz March 16, 2021

NCTQ’s 2020 Teacher Prep Review focuses on two areas of teacher preparation: clinical practice and classroom management. The report uses an approach that is now familiar to readers of NCTQ publications: asserting a set of preferred practices and then applying those criteria to teacher education programs. Although NCTQ reports have been critiqued for their limited use of research and highly questionable research methodology, this report employs the same approaches as earlier NCTQ reports. Rather than analyzing the characteristics of successful programs preparing teachers for a wide range of contexts, the report is based exclusively on adherence to or compliance with NCTQ internal standards that are neither widely accepted nor evidence-based. Thus, the report’s value is diminished and is unlikely to transform teacher preparation

Three researchers published an article in the Kappan that is highly critical of the edTPA, a test used to assess whether teacher candidates are prepared to teach. Over the years, there have been many complaints about the edTPA, because it replaces the human judgment of teacher educators with a standardized instrument. It’s proponents claim that the instrument is more reliable and valid than human judgment.

Drew H. Gitomer, Jose Felipe Martinez, and Dan Battey disagree. Their article raises serious criticisms of the edTPA.

They begin:

The use of high-stakes assessments in public education has always been contested terrain. Long-simmering debates have focused on their benefits, the harms they cause, and the roles they play in decisions about high school graduation, school funding, teacher certification, and promotion. However, for all the disagreement about how such assessments affect students and teachers, and how they should or should not be used, it has generally been assumed that the assessment instruments themselves follow standard principles of measurement practice.  

At the most basic level, test developers are expected to report truthful and technically accurate information about the measurement characteristics of their assessments, and they are expected to make no claims about those assessments for which they have no supporting evidence. Violating these fundamental principles compromises the validity of the entire enterprise. If we cannot trust the quality of the assessments themselves, then debates about how best to use them are beside the point. 

Our research suggests that when it comes to the edTPA (a tool used across much of the United States to make high-stakes decisions about teacher licensure), the fundamental principles and norms of educational assessment have been violated. Further, we have discovered gaps in the guardrails that are meant to protect against such violations, leaving public agencies and advisory groups ill-equipped to deal with them. This cautionary tale reminds us that systems cannot counter negligence or bad faith if those in position to provide a counterweight are unable or unwilling to do so. 

Background: Violations of assessment principles 

The edTPA is a system of standardized portfolio assessments of teaching performance that, at the time this research was conducted, was mandated for use by educator preparation programs in 18 states, and approved in 21 others, as part of initial certification for preservice teachers. It builds on a large body of research over several decades focused on defining effective teaching and designing performance assessments to measure it. The assessments were created and are owned by Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE) and are now managed by Pearson Assessment, with endorsement and support from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). By 2018, just five years after they were introduced, they were among the most widely used tools for evaluating teacher candidates in the United States, reaching tens of thousands of candidates in hundreds of programs across the country. They have substantially influenced programs of study in teacher education. And for the teaching candidates who take them, they are a major undertaking, requiring them to make a substantial time investment, as well as costing them $300.  

In 2018, two of us (Drew Gitomer and José Felipe Martínez) participated in a symposium at the annual meeting of the National Council of Measurement in Education (NCME), which included a presentation on edTPA by representatives of Pearson and SCALE (Pecheone et al., 2018). We were struck by specific claims that were made in that presentation: Reported rates of reliability seemed implausibly high, and reported rates of rater error seemed implausibly low, implying that a teaching candidate would receive the same scores regardless of who rated the assessment. A well-established feature of performance measures of teaching, similar to those being used in edTPA, is that raters will often disagree on their scores of any single performance and, therefore, the scoring reliability of any single performance is inevitably quite modest. The raw data on rater agreement that edTPA reports are consistent with the full body of work on these assessments. Yet, the reliabilities they reported, which depend on these agreement levels, were completely discrepant from all other past research. 

At the NCME session, we publicly raised these concerns, and we offered to engage in further conversation to clarify matters and address our questions about the claims that were made. Upon further investigation, we found that the information presented at the session was also reported in edTPA’s annual technical reports — the very information state departments of education rely on to decide whether to use the edTPA for teacher licensure.  

In December 2019, we published an article detailing serious concerns about the technical quality of the edTPA in the American Educational Research Journal (AERJ), one of the most highly rated and respected journals in the field of educational research (Gitomer et al., 2019). We argued that edTPA was using procedures and statistics that were, at best, woefully inappropriate and, at worst, fabricated to convey the misleading impression that its scores are more reliable and precise than they truly are. Our analysis showed why those claims were unwarranted, and we ultimately suggested that the concerns were so serious that they warranted a moratorium on using edTPA scores for high-stakes decisions about teacher licensure.  

Then they discovered that members of the Technical Advisory Committee had not met very often.

Nancy Bailey deconstructs Joseph Epstein’s much-reviled critique of Dr. Jill Biden’s right to be called “Dr. Biden.” She believes that its true message was an attack on teachers, the teaching profession, education schools, and public schools.

She writes, in part:

Belittling University Education Schools

Dr. Biden’s criticism indirectly attacks the University of Delaware and their education school, a public university. Tucker Carlson said, Dr. Jill has an education degree from some school in Delaware, and you’re supposed to find that highly impressive. 

Colleges of Education could always improve, but for years nonprofits like Relay Graduate School of Education, and more, have been jockeying to replace them.

By disparaging teachers’ main producers, our public universities, and these schools are in danger of closing; they promote a privatization agenda cast by corporate America.

Five Weeks of Training v. A Doctorate

These accusations against Dr. Biden are a push to get rid of teachers, a profession dominated by females, or reduce the profession to Teach For America types, a revolving door of volunteers, who, while well-meaning, rarely commit to teaching as a professional career.

TFA involves a five-seven week coaching session, used by those who want to privatize public education. TFA Corps members move into educational leadership positions while never gaining the knowledge necessary to understand children and how they learn.

Parents Want Good Teachers

Cheapening the teaching profession drives down wages and demeans teaching, making it look like little training is required, certainly not a doctorate!

The reality is that the world revolves around teachers and how they teach, which is getting the spotlight, especially now during this pandemic.

https://www.educationdive.com/news/is-edtpa-standing-in-the-way-of-getting-more-teachers-into-classrooms/572969/

Educators disagree about the value, validity, and reliability of the Pearson EdTPA, which is mandated in many states as the gateway to entering teaching.

Some states have lowered the passing score. Some are wondering whether to abandon it.

The debate occurs at a time when enrollments in teacher education programs have dropped by a third.

While many agree on the importance of high standards for new teachers, it’s by no means clear that the EdTPA encourages better teaching or merely rewards teachers who are good at the demands made by Pearson.

 

At last! The leaders of 350 teacher education programs have issued a bold statement in collaboration with the National Education Policy Center denouncing attacks on teacher education and market-based “remedies.”

The group calls itself Education Deans for Justice and Equity.

Their efforts contrast with those of a group called “Deans for Impact,” funded in 2015 by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, which supports charter schools (such as KIPP, Achievement First, and Uncommon Schools), Teach for America, Educators for Excellence, New Leaders, TNTP, Conservative Leaders for Education, Teach Plus, Stand for Children, and a long list of other Corporate Reform ventures. Deans for Impact has 24 members. The founder and executive director of Deans for Impact is Benjamin Riley, former director of policy and advocacy at the NewSchools Venture Fund, which is heavily endowed by billionaire foundations to launch charter schools and promote education technology.

The statement of Education Deans for Justice and Equity criticizes such disruption agents as Teach for America (which places inexperienced, unprepared college graduates into challenging urban and rural classrooms), the National Council on Teacher Quality (which pretends to evaluate teacher education programs without having the knowledge or experience to do so and without ever setting foot in the institutions they grade), the Relay “Graduate School of Education” (a program intended to grant master’s degrees to charter teachers that lacks the necessary elements of a graduate institution, such as scholars and research), and Pearson’s EdTPA (which seeks to replace human judgement of prospective teachers with a standardized tool).

Their statement begins:

Teachers are important, as is their preparation. We, Education Deans for Justice and Equity, support efforts to improve both. But improving teaching and teacher education must be part of larger efforts to advance equity in society.

Whether crediting teachers as the single most important factor in student success or blaming and scapegoating them for failing schools that only widen social and economic dispari- ties, many of the stories that circulate about education presume that it’s all about the teacher. Concerned less with the system of education and more with the individual actor, this rhetoric tends to reduce the problem of education to the shortcomings of individuals. The solution correspondingly focuses on incentives and other market-based changes.

Without a doubt, teacher-education programs cannot and should not operate as if all is well, because it is not. Several current efforts to reform teacher education in the United States, however, are making things worse. Although stemming from a wide range of actors (includ- ing the federal government, state governments, and advocacy organizations), these trends share a fundamental flaw: They focus on “thin” equity.

In their recently published book, Reclaiming Accountability in Teacher Education,1 Marilyn Cochran-Smith and colleagues contrast two understandings of equity. “Thin” equity defines the problem as the curtailing of individual rights and liberties, and the resulting solutions focus on equal access and market-based changes. In contrast, “strong” equity defines the problem as the legacies of systemic injustices, and the resulting solutions focus on increas- ing participatory democracy. Because thin-equi ty reforms obscure the legacies of systemic injustices, and instead focus narrowly on student achievement, teacher accountability, re- wards, and punishments, improving teacher education requires moving away from these and toward strong-equity reforms.

Below, we identify seven current trends impacting teacher education (including at many of our institutions) that are grounded in thin-equity understandings. In a number of ways, these approaches lack a sound research basis, and in some instances, they have already proven to widen disparities. Following a discussion of these trends, we present our alternative vision for teacher-education reform.

First, marketizing teacher education. Most teacher education in the United States happens at universities, and with much variability. Nonetheless, the long-touted claim that higher education’s “monopoly” over teacher education results in mediocrity and complacency has resulted in increased competition by way of “alternative” routes—some that meet state stan- dards (and some that do not), and some that involve little to no formal preparation via fast- track programs. These include non-university-based programs like the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence; programs that partner with universities, like Teach For America; and programs that identify as institutions of higher education, like the Relay Grad- uate School of Education. Such faith in the market to drive improvement frames Congress’s recent rewrite of Title II of ESSA, which allows for public funds to support both non-profit and for-profit alternative certification programs and routes. The problem? Merely expand- ing competition without building the capacity of all programs to prepare teachers has led not to improvement, but to widened disparities among students and increased corporate profiteering off of education.

Second, shaming teacher education. The assumption that shaming will spur effort to com- pete is another way to place faith in the market to drive improvement. Such is the approach of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) in its annual Teacher Prep Review, which scores (and, for the most part, gives failing grades to) teacher-education programs using an eight-dimension framework. Since its inception, the vast majority of programs nationwide have opted not to participate and share materials for review, citing NCTQ’s faulty methods of review and the lack of research basis for its framework.

Third, externally regulating teacher education at the federal level. The twice-proposed, Obama-era Teacher Preparation Regulations were never implemented, but their “value-add- ed” logic reverberates in other reforms, including NCTQ’s review and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accreditation. Measurement experts warn that the use of value-added modeling to determine the effectiveness of teachers to raise test scores, and in turn, the effectiveness of programs to prepare teachers to do so, are neither reliable nor statistically valid.

These are three of the seven malign trends they discuss. Open the link to read the statement in full. It is short and won’t take more than five minutes of reading time.

It is very encouraging to see the leaders of teacher education stand up for professionalism and research-based practice, and to take a stand against quackery.

Rob Levine, a Resistance-to-Privatization blogger in Minneapolis, reports here on the failure of the Bush Foundation’s bold “teacher effectiveness” initiative, which cost $45 million. All wasted.

The foundation set bold goals. It did not meet any of them.

Levine writes:

Ten years ago the St Paul-based Bush Foundation embarked on what was at the time its most expensive and ambitious project ever: a 10-year, $45 million effort called the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (TEI). The advent of the TEI coincided with the implementation of a new operating model at the foundation. Beginning in 2009 it would mostly would run its own programs, focusing on three main areas: .

  • “developing courageous leaders and engaging communities in solving problems”
  • “…supporting the self-determination of Native nations”
  • “…increasing the educational achievement of all students”

Bush foundation president Peter Hutchinson told a news conference that the initiative would “increase by 50 percent the number of students in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota who go to college.”

The Teacher Effectiveness Initiative was the foundation’s real-world application of its broad educational philosophy. Peter Hutchinson, the foundation’s president at the time, told a news conference announcing the plan that the initiative would “increase by 50 percent the number of students in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota who go to college.” How was this miraculous achievement to be done? By “[enabling] the redesign of teacher-preparation programs” at a range of higher educational institutions where teachers are educated in the three-state area.

The foundation also said that, through “Consistent, effective teaching” it would “close the achievement gap.” It would achieve these goals by “producing 25,000 new, effective teachers by 2018.”

Not only was the Bush Foundation going to do all these things, but they would prove it with metrics. It contracted with an organization called the Value Added Research Center (VARC) to expand its Value Added Model (VAM) to track test scores of students who were taught by teachers graduated from one of its programs. The foundation, which paid VARC more than $2 million for its work, would use those test scores to rate the teachers ‘produced’ – even giving $1,000 bonuses to the programs for each ‘effective’ teacher.

10 years later: Fewer students in college, ‘achievement gap’ unchanged

By just about any measure the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative was a failure. Some of the top-line goals were missed by wide margins. The promise of 50% more college students in the tri-state area over the 10 years of the project? In reality, in Minnesota alone the number of post-secondary students enrolled actually dropped from almost 450,000 in 2009 to 421,000 in 2017 – a decline of about six percent.

Just one more example of the complete and utter failure of the hoax of “reform,” which was always about privatization and union-busting, not improving schools or helping students.

 

 

Paul Thomas Taught for nearly 20 years, then became a teacher educator at Furman University in South Carolina. He often writes about the media and its misperceptions of teaching. In this post, he laments the fact that the media is constantly in search of a scapegoat for whatever goes wrong in education.

The latest scapegoat, he writes, is teacher education, and the latest lamentation is that teacher educators fail to teach the “science” of education.

The scapegoating deepened because of Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Obama’s Race to the Top. If every child was not 100% proficient, someone must be blamed. First, the outcry was “blame the teacher,” but when VAM backfired, it became blame the teacher educator.

 

Eric Blanc has covered the wave of teachers’ strikes that started in March 2018. He has been on the ground at everystrike, talking to the rank and file to get their perspectives as working teachers.

In this article, he describes the big lessons of the strike on Los Angeles.

He begins:

It would be hard to overstate the importance of this victory in the country’s second-largest school district. Against considerable odds, Los Angeles teachers have dealt a major blow against the forces of privatization in the city and nationwide. By taking on Democratic politicians in a deep-blue state, LA’s strike will certainly deepen the polarization within the Democratic Party over education reform and austerity. And by demonstrating the power of striking, LA educators have inspired educators nationwide to follow suit.

With new walkouts now looming in Denver, Oakland, Virginia, and beyond, it makes sense to reflect on the reasons why LA’s school workers came out on top—and what their struggle can teach people across the United States. Here are the five main takeaways.

Strikes Work: For decades, workers and the labor movement have been on the losing side of a one-sided class war. A major reason for this is that unions have largely abandoned the weapon of work stoppages, their most powerful point of leverage against employers. Rallies, marches, and civil disobedience are good, but they’re not enough.

Like the red state rebellions of 2018, the depth of the victory in Los Angeles underscores why the future of organized labor depends on reviving the strike. LA also shows that the most powerful strikes, particularly in the public sector, fight not only for the demands of union members, but on behalf of the broader community as well—an approach the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) calls “bargaining for the common good.”

The Status Quo Is Discredited: LA’s educator revolt is a particularly sharp expression of a nationwide rejection of decades of neoliberalism. Unlike many labor actions, this was not primarily a fight around wages—rather it was a political struggle against the billionaires and their proxies in government.

Like the electoral insurgencies of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, the upsurge of Los Angeles rank-and-file teachers, and the overwhelming support they received from the parents of their students, shows that working people are looking for an alternative to business as usual. Work actions like LA’s will be an essential part of any movement capable of defeating Trump and the far right.

That’s only lesson number one and two.

Keep reading to learn the other lessons.

I posted a strong endorsement of Kelda Roys. She is a candidate in the Democratic candidate for Governor of Wisconsin. The leading candidate in the race is Tony Evers, who is currently State Superintendent of Education. Some people think that he would be a strong supporter of education. But, in fact, he has made teachers’ lives worse during his tenure in office. Teachers are deeply demoralized by the combination of Governor Walker and State Chief Evers’ policies.

Read what Tim Slekar wrote about Tony Evers’ record on education. It is very bad, almost as bad as Scott Walker.

From dean of education at Edgewood College and strong public education advocate Tim Slekar.

“Tony Evers has “name recognition.” He can beat Walker. Except…

I know that’s the “theory.” But on his own issue—education—there are serious problems. For me specifically (as dean of a school of education) his Leadership Group’s dismantling and deregulating of teaching licenses because of a refusal to understand the cause of the “teacher shortage” tells me that using sound research to make policy decisions will take a back seat to neoliberal market solutions that actually cause more damage.

Teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Making it easier to enter our classrooms as a “teacher” does nothing to stop the exodus. It actually adds to it by further demoralizing the teachers that are still teaching. And that’s the real reason teachers are leaving. They are demoralized.

Excessive testing, educator effectiveness bunk, continued accountability (reform word for teachers are to blame for the achievement gap), expansion of non-public charter schools, and a top down system that denies teachers professional autonomy. And a Broad Academy Fellow (Privatization) as second in command. These are all issues DPI have significant control over but for some reason remain silent or worse supportive of.

And the candidate to take on Walker will not win without the support of the teaching profession. Assuming teachers will support Tony is rejecting their moral compass. They know Walker is horrible but they are also quite aware of the fact that DPI has left them hanging.

Give me a candidate that understands “demoralization.” That candidate will fire up education voters.”

Tim Slekar is supporting Kelda Roys for the Democratic nomination for Governor. I hope you will too!

State Supreme Court Judge Debra J. Young ruled that Success Academy can’t certify its own teachers. The chain, New York City’s largest, has very high teacher turnover and wanted to bypass the normal standards and certification process to ease its teacher shortage. It gained the approval of the State University of New York charter committee, which consists of four businessmen appointed by pro-charter Governor Andrew Cuomo. The New York State Department of Education and the New York State United Teachers sued to block the lowered standards.

Judge Young rejected Success Academy and the SUNY charter committee.

“The judge’s ruling upends the plans of the city’s largest charter school network, Success Academy, and wipes out a legislative victory that New York’s charter sector thought it had won — though the decision will likely not be the end of the legal battle.

“The regulations, approved by the State University of New York in October 2017, were designed to give charter schools more discretion over how they hired teachers. They eliminated the requirement that teachers earn master’s degrees and allowed charter schools authorized by SUNY to certify their teachers with as little as a month of classroom instruction and 40 hours of practice teaching.

“Some charter networks argued their existing in-house training programs are more useful to new teachers than the training required for certification under state law.

“But the rule was quickly challenged by the State Education Department and the state teachers union, which filed separate lawsuits that were joined in April. They argued that SUNY overstepped its authority and charged that the rule change would lead to children being taught by inexperienced and unqualified teachers…

The ruling was issued Tuesday by State Supreme Court Judge Debra J. Young, who wrote that the new certification programs were illegal because they fell below the minimum requirements issued by the state….

“The state’s top education officials — Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa — have long seemed offended by the new regulations. On a panel last year, Elia said, “I could go into a fast food restaurant and get more training than that.””

SUNY plans to appeal.