Teacher educators living in difficult times

Many of our regular readers of this blog are teacher educators. I (Clare) want to bring to your attention a disturbing development in teacher education in the U.S. Lin Goodwin, Vice-President, Division K of AERA sent the following email. These proposed initiatives could have dire consequences for university-based teacher education. This direction of “inspecting” and assessing teacher ed programs is very similar to what is happening in England. The effects on programs, faculty, and student teachers are profound. I do not think this spread of punitive measures is confined to just a few countries. Below is a summary of the proposed initiatives and a link to the full report. Imagine if the $ spent on assessing teacher ed programs was spent on PD for cooperating/associate teachers and teacher educators or used to create induction programs for new teacher educators or allotted to schools so that cooperating/associate teachers and their student teachers have time to meet during the day. Teacher ed would be greatly enhanced. We teacher educators are living in very difficult times! Teacher educators please speak up.

Dear Division K Colleagues,

I am sure many, if not most, of you have reviewed the Teacher Preparation Regulations proposed by the federal government. They promise to have a detrimental impact on all of us–faculty and students alike– given our work and programs in preservice teacher education. So, I encourage you to submit a comment, submit several comments, comment often and loudly by February 2nd. Please note the advice below–individual, authentic comments are best, versus collective or structured responses.

lin

– –

BOULDER, CO (January 12, 2015) – Recently proposed federal regulations that would impose new mandates on teacher education programs are likely to harm, rather than help, efforts to improve educational outcomes, according to a new review published today.

The draft regulations were reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Kevin K. Kumashiro, dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Kumashiro examined the proposed new Teacher Preparation Regulations, issued under Title II of the Higher Education Act, that the U.S. Department of Education released in the Federal Register on December 3, 2014. The education department has set a deadline of Feb. 2, 2015, for public comments on the regulations.

The draft proposal, Kumashiro explains in his review, enumerates a series of regulations that would be mandated by the federal government but would be enforced by the individual states. The regulations would require states to assess all teacher preparation programs annually and to rate them as “exceptional,” “effective,” “at-risk,” or “low-performing,” based in large part on a test-based accountability approach that would attribute gains in student test scores to teachers and then attribute those teachers’ “scores” to the teacher education programs they attended.

The regulations also would require states to provide technical assistance to programs rated “low-performing,” and those programs would risk losing state approval, state funding, and federal financial aid for their students.

In his review, Kumashiro points to a series of “vital policy concerns” raised by the proposed regulations. They include:

  •  They underestimate the cost and burden of implementing them, which Kumashiro says would be not only “quite high,” but also “unnecessary.”

 

  • With no foundation in evidence, they blame individual teachers – rather than root systemic causes – for the gap separating educational outcomes of affluent and white students from those of economically disadvantaged students and those belonging to racial minority groups.

 

  • They rely on an “improperly narrow” definition of what it means for teachers to be ready to teach.

 

  • They bank on test-based accountability and value-added measurement of teachers in analyzing data about teacher performance – even though those measures and tools have been “scientifically discredited.”

 

  • They are premised on inaccurate explanations for the causes of student achievement and underachievement, and as a consequence will discourage teachers from working in high-needs schools.

 

  • They will likely limit access to the teaching profession, especially for prospective teachers of color and from lower-income backgrounds, by choking off federal financial aid.

Finally, Kumashiro warns, the proposed regulations are rooted in “an unwarranted, narrow, and harmful view of the very purposes of education.”

Find Kevin K. Kumashiro’s review on the NEPC website at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-proposed-teacher-preparation.

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Sent by Chester Tadeja, Division K Web Developer on behalf of A. Lin Goodwin, Division K Vice President

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4 thoughts on “Teacher educators living in difficult times

  1. Thanks for drawing attention to this critical issue for teacher education/teacher educators on the Blog, Clare, and for summarizing key points. I received the email from Division K earlier this week too and it’s a HUGE deal for teacher educators and preparation programs in the U.S. Suffice to say, if implemented, it will also become a huge deal for teachers, principals, and school systems….

    The Kumashiro review is well worth the read (15 succinct and informative pages of analysis of the 74 pages of “dense bureaucratic language” that constitute the proposed Regulations). 1833 public comments from teacher educators and teachers have been shared, to date, at https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-28218. Well worth a look too. Let’s hope they are given a listening ear as the proposed timeframes for this initiative are equally scary.

    For me, the following excerpt from p. 9 of the Review addresses fundamental and significant underlying concerns:
    “Overall, the proposed regulations presume a narrow and diminished view of the purposes of public education:
    Within the proposed regulations, student learning is presumed to be marked by high test scores; teaching is presumed to be the raising of test scores; and teacher preparation is presumed to enable teachers to increase test scores. But, as commonly agreed, this is not the end goal of education. If, as John Dewey said, the purpose of education is to strengthen our democratic society,17 then the proposed regulations should expand and enrich, not narrow and limit, how the nation thinks about and advances the promises and purposes of public education.” (p. 9).

    Yes, indeed, Clare: “Imagine if the (proposed) $ spent on assessing teacher ed programs was spent on PD for cooperating/associate teachers and teacher educators or used to create induction programs for new teacher educators or allotted to schools so that cooperating/associate teachers and their student teachers have time to meet during the day. Teacher ed would be greatly enhanced.”

    I agree. We must stay tuned to these disturbing developments and be prepared to speak up – on behalf of our colleagues in the U.S. and, potentially, for our own teacher education programs here in Canada.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments Susan. These developments in U.S. could spill over to other countries. And I feel very concerned for my colleagues in the U.S. who may have to endure these inspections and evaluations.

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