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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