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AACTE Statement on Teacher Preparation and K-12 Assessment Report

Official AACTE Statement
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(March 15, 2012, Washington, D.C.) – The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) recently published a six-page "policy memo" entitled What Teacher Preparation Programs Teach About K-12 Assessment. The paper analyzed "whether or not new teachers are being adequately prepared to join more experienced colleagues in their school's data driven instruction initiatives." Predictably, NCTQ determined that teachers are not being prepared to effectively use assessments and assessment data.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) is an active member of the Data Quality Campaign and has shown a commitment to advocacy and professional development regarding access of state student assessment data. As seen through multiple sessions at AACTE's most recent Annual Meeting, colleges of education also are working in earnest to enhance their candidates' skill in interpreting student test scores and adapting instruction to improve student performance.

Unfortunately, once again, NCTQ has promoted a polemic report with no transparency or references for how its outcomes are achieved. Instead, what NCTQ described as a "review of course requirements, syllabi and coursework" – all of which are strictly documents and inputs – was determined adequate to make the significant outcomes-based judgment that teachers are not being prepared to effectively use assessments and assessment data. Further, the report is meant to be preliminary of NCTQ's and U.S. News & World Report's effort to evaluate all university based teacher preparation programs. According to information on NCTQ's website, this project is still very much in the early stages, with data requests completed for only 21 percent of the institutions being queried for it.

What NCTQ deems to be "a preliminary representative sample," is, in fact, a rare if ever used practice in research. It also includes just 29, or 2 percent, of the nearly 1,400 higher-education-based educator preparation programs in the U.S. In addition, without citing a source, NCTQ pronounces that new teachers say they are "not at all comfortable with much of anything about the process" of applying data to make instructional decisions. A study conducted by Educational Testing Service in 2009-2010, on a significant sample of  7,700 teacher candidates, found results quite to the contrary of NCTQ's opinion. When asked "How well has your program prepared you to use each of the following assessments to determine student strengths and needs (Observation, Rubrics, Performance Tasks, Test, Project Assessment, Students' Self Assessments, Portfolios, and Anecdotal Records)?," results ranged from 84-95 percent of respondents indicating Very Well, Well or Somewhat Well.1

What is most surprising is that this report attempts to substantiate policy recommendations to "federal and state agencies, school districts and foundations to help them leverage improvements in assessment coursework in teacher preparation programs." It is clear that NCTQ will continue to condemn the university based educator preparation community through hurried reports and inappropriate review methods. We expect AACTE members' mistrust in this organization will become ever more apparent and understandable to the public as NCTQ progresses with its reviews.

1 Educational Testing Service (July 2010). Special unpublished analysis of Praxis Candidates' (Q4'2009 through Q1'2010).

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AACTE: Serving Learners
The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to the highest quality professional development of teachers and school leaders in order to enhance PK-12 student learning. The 800 institutions holding AACTE membership represent public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. AACTE's reach and influence fuel its mission of serving learners by providing all school personnel with superior training and continuing education. For more information, visit www.aacte.org.



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