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Caught in a Vise: The Challenges Facing Teacher Preparation in an Era of Accountability


by Rick Ginsberg & Neal Kingston — 2014

Background: Despite polling data that suggests that teachers are well respected by the general public, criticism of teacher preparation by various organizations and interest groups is common, often highlighting the perceived need for increasing their rigor and performance. A number of studies and reports have critiqued teacher preparation, and high-profile leaders like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have called for substantive changes. At the same time, the field of teacher preparation has been embracing change with the idea of accountability based on student performance. Indeed, recently released evidence suggests that in the area of clinical preparation, education programs require many hours of field placement experiences, countering one of the key criticisms of the preparation programs.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the field of teacher preparation in the current era of accountability and testing. After a brief overview of the current context facing teacher preparation, the issue of outcome measures for varying professions is explored by comparing accreditation outcome measures utilized in selected professions. Then, the strengths and weaknesses of currently emerging assessment models are explored. Finally, a discussion of potential ways to assess teacher preparation program performance with an array of sources and measures is presented.

Research Design: The study is a combination of a secondary analysis and analytic essay. The use of outcomes associated with 10 professions was examined by reviewing accreditation standards and documentation from published reports available on websites for the specific measures used to assess student success and program outcomes. As a means of validating findings, feedback was obtained from accreditation coordinators and/or other leaders in each profession. The analysis of currently emerging assessment models for teacher preparation was based upon a review of literature on value added and other similar assessments.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The review of professions found that all are struggling with better means for assessing program outcomes, with a great deal of similarity in the processes currently in place used across fields. Teacher education was found to include more of the different ways for assessing outcomes than any other profession. Significant concerns with currently promoted value-added models for assessing outcomes of teacher preparation were identified, with the use of multiple measures of evidence suggested as the best means for moving forward. We argue that teacher preparation programs are caught in a vise—with an appreciation and desire among those in the field for greater accountability while being squeezed by a sense that the approaches being suggested are prone to error and misuse.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 116 Number 1, 2014, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17295, Date Accessed: 12/14/2017 1:29:42 AM

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About the Author
  • Rick Ginsberg
    University of Kansas
    E-mail Author
    RICK GINSBERG is dean of the School of Education at the University of Kansas. Prior to that, he served as the director of the School of Education at Colorado State University. He is the 2012–2013 chairman of the board of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, the chair of the Kansas Professional Standards Board, a member of the interim Board of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and serves on the CAEP Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting. His recent research examines educational policy, politics and reform, and aspects of leadership. His most recent publication focused on the impact on principals and superintendents of leading during a fiscal downturn—Ginsberg, R. & Multon, K (2011). Leading through a fiscal nightmare: The impact on principals and superintendents. Phi Delta Kappan, 92, 42–47.
  • Neal Kingston
    University of Kansas
    E-mail Author
    NEAL KINGSTON is a professor in the Psychology and Research in Education Department at the University of Kansas and serves as director of the Achievement and Assessment Institute and codirector of the Center for Educational Research and Evaluation. His research focuses on helping large-scale assessments better support student learning.
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