Assessment matters for teachers. Teachers target and differentiate instruction based on evidence gathered in classroom assessments. Teams of teachers in schools review assessment evidence to understand student needs and to guide curriculum development. Parents, teachers, and students themselves make use of assessment results to make the most of learning opportunities. Assessment and interpretation of assessment results is also sometimes a particular challenge for novice teachers, and it is often the subject of school and district professional development efforts. With so many tests, so many strategies, and so much evidence, assessment is a wide and sometimes confusing topic.
Two new resources from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), a not-for-profit educational services organization based in Portland, Oregon, provide a good overview of how educators and parents are viewing assessment these days, and a framework for promoting widespread clarity and common understanding of assessment’s role in education.
The first resource is NWEA’s third installment of an assessment perceptions survey, Making Assessment Work for All Students: Multiple Measures Matter. Conducted with Gallup, the survey asked representative samples of teachers, school administrators, students, and parents with students in schools what they thought about assessment. The study helpfully breaks out perceptions about different types of assessments, from formative classroom assessments, through classroom test, to large-scale state accountability measures.
Among the surprise findings: Despite the press that the parental “opt out” movement has received, half of parents and three quarters of students think the amount of testing in schools is about right. But three quarters of educators feel there is too much testing. Of interest to AACTE members, most teachers reported feeling well-prepared to create valid assessments and to use assessment to inform instruction; also interesting is that they felt less well-prepared to communicate about assessment results with students and parents, and even with other teachers. Given the importance of having students and parents understand assessment results and their implications, the latter finding is concerning.
The second new resource is the fruit of the National Task Force on Assessment Education for Teachers convened by NWEA. The task force, on which I serve along with some two dozen other educators and advisers, is a multiyear effort intended to provide the field of education with a common definition of assessment literacy and with resources to promote it. The group has agreed on a common definition, now available for download here, developed with input from a survey last fall of various stakeholders in the field. We also benefited from the input of Portland State University (OR) Dean Randy Hitz and his partners from local schools, who responded to our drafts at our last meeting, and from colleagues like Kristin Hamilton of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, who helped the task force think about supporting good assessment practice across the professional continuum.
For more information, visit www.assessmentliteracy.org.
Do you know any Holmes Scholar alumni? Or perhaps you were once a Holmes Scholar yourself? Then we want to hear from you!
In an effort to better connect with Holmes Program alumni positioned across the nation and the world, AACTE and the National Association of Holmes Scholars Alumni (NAHSA) have developed a brief survey to update our existing records. The organizations also hope to learn more about the program’s impact to inform improvements going forward.
As our expanded Holmes community continues to grow, we want to strengthen our supporting network of alumni, wherever they may currently be. Having updated records will allow us to tap these valuable resources and continue the program’s strong tradition of mentoring and networking across generations.
In addition, this strengthened network may spur new programmatic opportunities and services for the 43 member institutions that currently participate in the AACTE Holmes Program—and for others yet to join. With more formal tracking processes for our alumni, we aim to more strategically improve program quality as participation grows.
A dynamic group of 80 leaders from educator preparation programs nationwide gathered in Portland, Oregon, for AACTE’s annual Leadership Academy June 26-30. This year’s participants came from all types of institutions, some on their own and others in pairs or teams. Many had just accepted a new role as a chair or dean, others were experienced in their positions, and some were enhancing their skills in preparation for future career opportunities.
The 5-day event featured several general sessions addressing such topics as establishing authority, building consensus, assembling a team, and managing change. Two guest sessions on inclusive education were added this year, one presented by the Ohio Deans Compact on Exceptional Children and the other by the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform Center. Based on the positive response to these offerings, AACTE plans to continue including special topics at future Leadership Academies.
A series of breakout sessions provided participants options to learn more about performing the specific roles of chair, assistant/associate dean, or dean. The topics touched on challenges and opportunities associated with each position, such as contributing to a leadership team, dealing with conflict, leading in all directions (e.g., “up” as well as “down”), and managing career paths.
Throughout the week, participants engaged in formal and informal conversations addressing session topics as well as a host of other areas pertinent to their particular contexts. The breakout sessions were particularly popular, allowing attendees to become familiar with different contexts for leadership, to recognize common challenges across varied settings, and to learn of creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Simply said, participants engaged with a community of highly talented and committed peers, all of whom were eager to share and to learn.
At the close of the event, everyone left with new ideas, a better understanding of their prior accomplishments and setbacks, and fresh momentum and optimism for handling tomorrow’s challenges. Perhaps most importantly, participants departed with an expanded network of friends and colleagues for continued support beyond their week together. A strong collaborative network can make all the difference to leaders who are navigating through changing times.
The three of us were honored to serve among the faculty facilitating this year’s academy, each sharing our perspectives from a variety of leadership roles within and beyond academia. Like the participants, we faculty were energized by the passion and drive of the new generation of leaders in attendance. We aspire to the same level of commitment, not only in our daily work but also as we plan for next year’s AACTE Leadership Academy, which will be held in Providence, Rhode Island June 25-29. We hope to make next year’s academy even better!
John Henning is dean of the School of Education at Monmouth University (NJ). Patricia McHatton is dean of the College of Education and P-16 Integration at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Jennifer Roth is assistant principal at Fort Collins High School (CO) and a doctoral candidate at Colorado State University.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations marked up the FY17 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) funding bill. This was the last of the 12 appropriations bills to be marked up by the full committee prior to the congressional recess.
During the markup, members of the committee submitted 32 amendments seeking to restore or increase funding to programs, clarify language, or repeal policy riders. Of key interest to educator preparation is an amendment offered by Representative David Price (D-NC) to restore funding for the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants, the only federal grant program designed to reform and strengthen teacher preparation across the nation. (See our fact sheet for an overview of the TQP grant program.) The son of two teachers, Price spoke passionately of his support for the TQP program and the work of grantees to strengthen teacher preparation. Unfortunately, this amendment failed, but the chairman of the subcommittee, Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), committed to further conversations on the matter as the appropriations process unfolds.
Ultimately the bill passed out of committee by a vote of 31-19 down party lines, with many cuts to education programs and with policy riders – both of which received heavy criticism from Democratic members of the committee. Although there is little expectation at the moment that the policy riders will survive negotiations between the House and the Senate (which passed a bipartisan bill with no policy riders), the House bill does include a policy rider prohibiting the teacher preparation program regulations.
The next congressional action will take place in September, when lawmakers will pass a continuing resolution to fund the government until an unknown date – possibly December 2016, March 2017, or even September 2017.
The annual AACTE call for award nominations is currently open. As members of the AACTE Committee on Professional Preparation and Accountability, we have the honor of overseeing the three Professional Achievement Awards. Please take a moment to nominate someone deserving for the 2017 Margaret B. Lindsey Award, David G. Imig Award, or Edward C. Pomeroy Award.
These awards honor individuals who have made a meaningful contribution to our profession with their research, policy leadership, or other service to the community. Certainly, you know someone whose tremendous impact on educator preparation deserves recognition. We hope you will take a moment to help us develop a robust pool of nominees for these awards:
Self-nominations are welcome for the Lindsey but not the Imig or Pomeroy awards. All nominations must be made through the online submission site no later than October 12. For more information on these and all of the AACTE awards for 2017, visit the awards web page.
Members of the Committee on Professional Preparation and Accountability include Chair Mark Meyers, Xavier University; Board Liaison Arlinda Eaton, Kennesaw State University; George Drake, Millersville University; Debbie Rickey, Grand Canyon University; Patricia Hoffman-Miller, Prairie View A&M University; and Jill Shedd, Indiana University.
Congratulations to July Holmes Scholar of the Month Adrianne Taylor! Taylor is a third-year doctoral candidate at Florida A&M University (FAMU). She is also a reading coach at Griffin Middle School, a Title I information technology school in Tallahassee, Florida. Her research interests include principal leadership at Title I schools, student achievement at high-poverty schools, and cross-curricular reading.
Taylor exudes the qualities of a Holmes Scholar not only within the organization (including writing for the Scholars Report newsletter) but also within her university and her school district. As vice president of the FAMU Holmes chapter, she facilitates professional development with preservice teachers focused on building capacity in using technology to enhance instruction. Most recently, Taylor was a presenter at the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers Annual Meeting.
Using her passion for literacy as her platform, Taylor also works within her school and her district to assist teachers with effectively incorporating reading comprehension, vocabulary, and text-dependent writing in across content areas. She has served as an English/language arts curriculum writer for Leon County Schools and C-PALMS. She also serves as a member of her school’s School Improvement Plan team and the School Advisory Council.
Taylor’s dissertation topic is “Principals’ Capacity to Serve as Instructional Leaders at High-Poverty Schools.” Upon graduating, she aspires to become an administrator at a Title I school.
If you would like to nominate a Holmes Scholar of the Month, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new report on international approaches to developing elementary teachers will be released next week at a webcast event featuring AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson. Register at this link to tune in for the event, which will be held Tuesday, July 19, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. EDT.
The report, Not So Elementary: Primary School Teacher Quality in Top-Performing Education Systems, is authored by Australian researcher Ben Jensen on behalf of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). It looks at international practices in elementary teacher preparation and their effects on student achievement. Recommendations for U.S. policy and practice are included.
During the webcast, Robinson will join other teacher preparation experts on a panel discussing how lessons from the top performers might be applied in this country:
In addition to viewing the webcast through the link above, you can follow the conversation on Twitter at #NotSoElementary.
Ask any new teacher what part of their preparation was most important, and the answer will almost always be the final clinical component—the student teaching, internship, or residency experience. But while everyone seems to agree that high-quality clinical experience is critical to high-quality preparation, a persistent set of challenges have stood in the way of widespread implementation: identifying excellent clinical faculty, providing adequate time in clinical placements, and helping candidates, particularly those of limited means, navigate the full-time demands of unpaid student teaching or internships.
In recent years, several externally funded boutique programs have emerged, providing evidence of the benefit of intensive, full-year, paid, coteaching residencies. Still, while they have offered proof of the concept, broader replication has been cost-prohibitive. A new report from Bank Street College’s Sustainable Funding Project offers a new approach to overcoming the challenges and making funded residencies much more widely available. That report, For the Public Good: Quality Preparation for Every Teacher, deserves serious consideration in conversations between educator preparation programs and their PK-12 partners.
The benefits of yearlong funded residencies accrue widely. Candidates benefit from experiencing the whole school year, start to finish, while working with an experienced mentor. And they can afford it—a stipend erases the opportunity costs and lets them avoid after-school shifts working another job to make ends meet. All parties—the candidate, the cooperating or mentor teacher, and the class of PK-12 students—gain from the coteaching model. Students benefit from the doubling of qualified instructional staff supporting their learning, while the mentor coteacher gains valuable professional development. And where multiple residents are placed in one building, the benefits to the school as a whole are multiplied from overall professional growth and the enriched instructional environment. What’s more, teachers prepared in longer clinical placements tend to persist in the profession; given the high cost of teacher turnover, particularly in our hardest-to-staff schools, the economic case is as solid as the educational one.
Even if the benefits are clear, the up-front financial cost still deters many. The new report, as well as a recent op-ed by its authors in the New York Times, argues that establishing yearlong funded residencies is often more affordable than we might think. While acknowledging that the easiest solution would be a commitment of federal funds (as other countries have, and as ours has in the case of medical education—something Ron Thorpe once articulated in a well-argued Kappan article), a very good start could be made, and the benefits proven, by cleverly redirecting existing funding streams.
For example, a school that housed five or six residents in coteaching placements for a year might use a significant portion of its substitute teacher budget, using each of the residents (or their coteachers) a day a week to fill in—with less instructional disruption than is often the case with a substitute unfamiliar with the school. Some categories of the Every Student Succeeds Act funds could be used as well, either directly for the residency program, or by using residents to accomplish enhanced instruction.
Absent a federally coordinated push to fund teacher residencies more broadly, the opportunity lies with states, local preparation programs, and their district partners to experiment with this promising model.
The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
At City University of New York’s Lehman College in the Bronx, our early childhood education students are known for their strong work ethic and resilience. Most are working parents, some with long commutes to class on public transit, and approximately 70% are bilingual, having learned English as a second language.
Early on in the edTPA process, we set out to disprove the contention that teachers of very young children – our teachers work with kids as young as 2 years old – would not score well on the assessment. It’s true that it can be challenging to reflect and write about giving feedback to such young students, especially when some of our teachers struggle with written English. But our students led the way in determining developmentally appropriate ways to provide feedback, and they documented their work during writing workshops on the weekends.
In the end, that hard work paid off. Every one of our teachers who submitted edTPA in Early Childhood passed, most with Mastery. We got there by using the assessment for more than just a score – we made it a central component of how our students thought about teaching. Here’s what we learned.
We send our seminar instructors into student teachers’ classrooms. These visits allow faculty to understand the individual strengths and needs of each student and to tailor lessons to the candidate’s grade level and unique circumstances. But just as importantly, they give us the chance to have conversations with our best resources: our directors, principals, and cooperating teachers. Some of them even attended seminars with our students!
We find that candidates do best when given immediate feedback on their work. And since so many of our students have family responsibilities and often work full-time, they do much of their writing remotely on the weekends. Quick and clear communication is critical. By using Taskstream as an edTPA platform, and allowing our students to text their instructors for quick answers, we can give candidates the feedback needed in a timely fashion.
Despite the hectic demands of the semester, I found the time to train as an edTPA scorer. I’m glad I did. It helped me understand the importance of the rubrics and gave me confidence that my students could prove their abilities as outstanding teachers.
With a tech support team and early childhood librarian who both have intimate knowledge of edTPA and its handbooks, we are well-equipped to support our students in every way.
If faculty members focus only on getting candidates to pass a test, we’re not making the best use of our students’ time – or preparing them to be effective teachers. But by integrating edTPA into our everyday practice and allowing both students and faculty to use it as a tool for reflection, Lehman College showed that edTPA can be much more than just a test.
Kym Vanderbilt is a lecturer in early childhood education at City University New York’s Lehman College.
As participants in the William Paterson University (WP) Holmes Network–part of the AACTE Holmes Program–we have enjoyed many new and stimulating opportunities. Throughout the past year, we’ve received mentorship and other valuable support as Holmes Honors students (undergraduates in teacher preparation programs) and Holmes Master’s students (in-service teachers in graduate programs), and last month we capped it all off with an inspiring trip to AACTE’s Washington Week.
The Holmes Experience
The WP Holmes Network provides support not only in our professional careers, but also in our personal lives. The programs are training us to be leaders who are effective in influencing our schools and communities, and our experiences in the network shape us into more thoughtful and well-rounded educators. The program has given us the opportunity to meet with our dean of education to voice our concerns for the university’s programs. We are building relationships between in-service and preservice teachers that guide and support our journey toward degree completion, and the network allows us a nurturing environment to communicate and learn from one another. Outside our institution, the Holmes Program has connected us with participants and professionals around the country, both virtually and at events like the AACTE Annual Meeting and Washington Week.
Holmes Summer Policy Institute
The Holmes Summer Policy Institute was so much more than a lesson in advocacy. The atmosphere was full of refreshing energy and allowed us to gain knowledge and speak freely in a safe space, but it also led us to imagine new possibilities. The expertise of Holmes Scholars and other participants instilled within us strength and encouragement, leaving us inspired to work harder and achieve more with our lives. Meeting people of color who hold scholarly, powerful positions within our nation–and the strong doctoral candidates who embodied a pathway from “us” to “them”–proposed the notion “We can.” It left a stamp within our hearts that we, too, are capable of this success and do not have to allow the label “at risk” define us. Being surrounded by strong-willed scholars especially brought us enlightenment and inspired us to persevere.
Day on the Hill
Stating the words “Day on the Hill” starts the racing of the heart and places a smile upon the face. After rehearsing our pitch late into the night before the event, we all felt ready to go.
The day began with a literal walk in the park, but was soon followed by running, loud expressions of shock and awe, and time checks. We walked into each congressional office, coming face to face with powerful figures who drive our futures as college students, educators, and citizens.
When reflecting on these experiences, we are overcome with gratitude. Washington Week was breathtaking and overwhelming, yet delightful and humbling. Before attending this event, we were unaware of the importance and significance of the student voice. It is moving to know that our congressmen and women are attentive to their constituents. Now, we have learned that power lies within a collective of people who are willing to put in the work and press onward to a clear, focused vision.
Juan Betancur and Agustin Castillo are Holmes Honors students and Azaria Cunningham and Francisco Ocasio are Holmes Master’s students at William Paterson University. Holmes Scholar Sharon Leathers is the university’s Holmes coordinator.