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More Transparency and Less Celebration

Posted By: Edward Crowe on March 22, 2011
The authors have done a really nice job of capturing what they called the "key challenges" of the work related to studying and writing about teacher education programs. Their report on the internal discussions among faculty about data management, whether and which findings to share, and how to deal with transparency issues all sound familiar themes from my own experience. They presented the topics in a fair and balanced way.

There are a couple of additional challenges that researchers working in this area have to cope with: one is the capacity of teacher education faculty at many institutions to design and conduct rigorous quantitative research. And the second is the willingness of teacher education faculty to use findings from high quality studies to make fundamental changes where they are called for. From the TC Record commentary, it would appear there are mixed beliefs among faculty on whether to believe in and act on information that suggests the need for change.

The struggle over what to disclose and to whom suggests that views about teacher education from the external world (of schools and policy makers) still haven't penetrated very deeply into colleges of education. The preparation of teachers is not an end in itself; it's means toward the goal of producing strong schools and successful students. A recent paper published by the Center for American Progress (see http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/07/teacher_accountability.html) urges states to adopt more rigorous systems of accountability for preparation programs and to use the findings more aggressively to hold individual programs accountable. Universities have had many years to use quietly on the inside information about what they know needs to change. Real changes havenít happened in very many places.

Debates among faculty cited in the commentary about keeping negative stuff quiet and "celebrating" the good news strike me as an ongoing problem. No one outside the academy believes the good news anymore. And there's pretty widespread belief that without sustained outside pressure, faculty will never act on the bad news. That's an argument for going public with all of the findings.
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 More Transparency and Less Celebration by Edward Crowe on March 22, 2011
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