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Seven Legitimate Apprehensions about Evaluating Teacher Education Programs and Seven “Beyond Excuses” Imperatives


by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, Joshua Barnett & Tirupalavanam G. Ganesh — 2013

Background: Via the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), stronger accountability proponents are now knocking on the doors of the colleges of education that prepare teachers and, many argue, prepare teachers ineffectively. This is raising questions about how effective and necessary teacher education programs indeed are. While research continues to evidence that teachers have a large impact on student achievement, the examination of teacher education programs is a rational backward mapping of understanding how teachers impact students. Nonetheless, whether and how evaluations of teacher education programs should be conducted is yet another hotly debated issue in the profession.

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to describe how one of the largest teacher education programs in the nation has taken a lead position toward evaluating itself, and has begun to take responsibility for its impact on the public school system. This research also presents the process of establishing a self-evaluation initiative across the state of Arizona and provides a roadmap for how other colleges and universities might begin a similar process.

Setting and Participants: This work focuses on the Teacher Preparation Research and Evaluation Project (T-PREP) that spawned via the collaborative efforts among the deans and representative faculty from Arizona State University (ASU), Northern Arizona University (NAU), and the University of Arizona (UofA). The colleges of education located within each respective university are the colleges that train the vast majority of educators in the state of Arizona. Participants also included other key stakeholders in the state of Arizona, including the deans and representative faculty from the aforementioned colleges of education, leaders representing the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), and other key leaders and constituents involved in the state’s education system (e.g., the state’s union and school board leaders and representatives).

Research Design: This serves as a case study example of how others might conduct such self-examinations at the collaborative and the institutional level, as well as more local levels.

Conclusions: This work resulted in a set of seven “beyond excuses” imperatives that participants involved in the T-PREP consortium developed and participants at the local level carried forward. The seven key imperatives are important for other colleges of education to consider as they too embark on pathways toward examining their teacher education programs and using evaluation results in both formative and summative ways.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 12, 2013, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17251, Date Accessed: 9/22/2017 1:00:40 PM

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About the Author
  • Audrey Amrein-Beardsley
    Arizona State University
    E-mail Author
    AUDREY AMREIN-BEARDSLEY is an associate professor at Arizona State University. Her research interests include educational policy, educational measurement, and research methods, and more specifically, high-stakes tests and value-added methodologies and systems. She was recently named as one of the top 121 edu-scholars in the nation, honored for being a university-based academic who is contributing most substantially to public debates about the nation's educational system. She is also the creator and host of a show, titled Inside the Academy, during which she interviews some of the top educational researchers in the academy (http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/). Amrein-Beardsley, A. (2012). Value-added measures in education: The best of the alternatives is simply not good enough [Commentary]. Teachers College Record. Amrein-Beardsley, A., & Collins, C. (2012). The SAS Education Value-Added Assessment System (SAS® EVAAS®) in the Houston Independent School District (HISD): Intended and Unintended Consequences. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 20(12).
  • Joshua Barnett
    National Institute for Excellence in Teaching
    E-mail Author
    JOSHUA H. BARNETT is the director of research and evaluation for the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET). His primary research focus is improving the quality of education for all students through reforming how teachers and principals are evaluated and how they are compensated. His additional interests include fiscal issues around equity, adequacy, and program evaluation. He has worked as a co-principal investigator on large-scale federal projects, as well as across districts and states to help construct educator evaluation systems and professional development programs. He has developed numerous program evaluations at the school, district, and state level. Before joining NIET, he worked at Arizona State University and was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at Massey University in New Zealand. His work has been recognized by invitations to be a keynote speaker to a variety of audiences and present his work through numerous national conference presentations and publications, including: Ritter, G. W. & Barnett, J. H. (2013). A straightforward guide to teacher merit pay: Rewarding and encouraging schoolwide improvement. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Barnett, J. H. (2012). March Madness and the Inequity Conundrum [Commentary]. Teachers College Record.
  • Tirupalavanam Ganesh
    Arizona State University
    E-mail Author
    TIRUPALAVANAM G. GANESH is an engineer and education researcher with research interests in teacher education, learning environments, and study of K-12 and higher education systems. He has an interdisciplinary PhD with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction. He served as co-principal investigator and assistant dean for information systems (2006–2010) in the College of Education at Arizona State University when the university began the study reported in this article. He is Research Associate Professor and Assistant Dean, K-12 Education at the Ira A Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He is developing a non-profit organization to support educators, school systems, and families with the aim of fostering innovation in teaching and learning. In January 2012, he presented to the National Academy of Engineering's iSTEM committee on the idea of integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education (see http://www.nae.edu/File.aspx?id=55867). Ganesh, T. G. (2011). His scholarship includes: Children-produced drawings: An interpretive and analytic tool for researchers. In E. Margolis, & L. Pauwels, (Eds.), The Sage handbook of visual research methods. London, UK: Sage. Ganesh, T. G. (2007, April). Commentary through visual data: A critique of the United States school accountability movement. Visual Studies, 22(1), 42–47. Ganesh, T. G. (2002, Fall). Held hostage by high-stakes testing: Drawing as symbolic resistance. Teacher Education Quarterly, 29(4), 69-72.
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