From Ed Week
By Nora Fleming

Teacher education programs are using data, technology, and monitoring/tracking systems to improve, but still have a ways to go, says a report from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, released today.

According to the AACTE, progress has been made, but obstacles to improvement persist. Not a surprise given that teacher ed. has long been under attack by critics who claim its tradition-bound ways aren't producing the kinds of teachers needed for 21st-century classrooms.

From The New York Times
By Motoko Rich

Despite major changes in the racial makeup of American public school students, the people training to be teachers are still predominantly white.

According to a study being released Wednesday by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, which represents colleges and universities with teacher certification programs, 82 percent of candidates who received bachelor’s degrees in education in 2009-10 and 2010-11 were white.

From Diverse: Issues in Higher Education
by Jamaal Abdul-Alim

ORLANDO, Fla. — When Evelyn Perry — an administrator within the School of Education and Urban Studies at Morgan State University — first learned about a relatively new teacher assessment tool known as edTPA, her first reaction was, "This is a lot of work."

But after learning more about the assessment and how it helps prepare aspiring teachers for the demands of the classroom, Perry concluded that incorporating the edTPA into the university's teacher preparation program was also "worthwhile work."

"It really made us focus on what we were doing," Perry said during a panel discussion at the annual conference of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, or AACTE. "It was an assessment tool that was not business as usual."

Morgan State's use of the edTPA is part of a growing trend that AACTE is hoping to usher along even further. Indications are the edTPA will become a more prominent fixture on the landscape of teacher education — and soon.

Starting in the 2013-14 academic year, edTPA will become available nationally, according to AACTE.

Several states already have formally adopted the edTPA. In New York State, for instance, teacher candidates who apply for initial certification on or after May 1, 2014 will be required to take and pass the edTPA.

Other states are merely "considering" edTPA for statewide use to either license new teachers or approve teacher preparation program, according to AACTE.

Morgan State is one of more than 160 institutions of higher learning that is "field-testing" the edTPA. At Morgan State, Perry said, the edTPA accounts for 10 percent of a teaching candidate's grade, making it a virtual requirement for a degree in teaching.

In short, the edTPA is an assessment "process" that is used to help determine a teaching candidate's readiness for the classroom. The "TPA" in edTPA is an acronym for Teacher Performance Assessment. It was developed at Stanford University.

"It's not a magic bullet," said Kendyll Stansbury, a member of the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity who helped develop the edTPA.

"It's a conceptual framework," Stansbury said. "It's just a tool to help you think about what you have to do."

The edTPA is used to evaluate teaching candidates in five "dimensions of teaching": planning, instruction, assessment, analysis of teaching and academic language.

For the planning dimension, teacher candidates must submit "artifacts," such as lesson plans and student assignments.

For the instruction dimension, teacher candidates must submit, among other things, unedited video clips of their instruction.

Teaching candidates who've been evaluated using the edTPA say it has given them a competitive edge and makes them stand out, not only among fellow job applicants, but also among teachers who are already on the job.

Keisha Soloman, a 2012 graduate of Morgan State and one of Perry's former students, was among the first students at Morgan State to be evaluated through the edTPA. She said the edTPA's requirement to video record her teaching sessions made her see things she wouldn't' have otherwise seen, such as the degree to which all students were engaged in her lessons.

She also said it has led her to incorporate practices that have delighted administrators at the school where she a first-year teacher.

"My principal was very happy to see that my lesson plans were very thorough," Soloman, a newly minted language arts teacher at Mace's Lane Middle School in Dorchester County, Md., said during a separate session on novice teachers' experience with the edTPA.

Soloman also credited the edTPA with making her more reflective about what she does in the classroom. The edTPA features a component that requires students to write detailed reflections about their experiences as student-teachers.

The sessions in which Perry and Soloman spoke were just two of a dozen or so sessions on the edTPA — from policy considerations to practical issues with implementation — making the edTPA one of the most prominent topics at the AACTE conference, themed "Embracing the Future: Vision, Venture and Values."

The prominence of the edTPA at the conference was not by mere happenstance. AACTE is actively seeking to make teacher performance assessments in general — and the edTPA in particular — a permanent fixture on the landscape of teacher preparation programs throughout the country.

"Ultimately, the association would support the widespread adoption of this particular one [the edTPA] because what it does for the profession," said Saroja Barnes, senior director of professional issues for AACTE.

"It provides a common tool that's being used to assess teacher readiness — provides us with common language and a set of data that we can draw on to be accountable for the teachers we produce," Barnes said.

Greater implementation of the edTPA comes at a time when university-based teacher preparation programs are facing increased scrutiny and calls for accountability for raising student achievement.

Barnes said if more schools of education would use the edTPA, it would give them a way to better fend off "attacks" from the federal government and other critics who say teacher preparation programs are not producing quality teachers to raise student achievement in underperforming schools.


From Education Week
By Stephen Sawchuk

What skills do teacher education programs set out to teach? What understanding of those topics do their graduates actually come away with? And which of those competencies help improve academic outcomes for students?

Those questions are at the heart of a three-year, federally funded study now under way by researchers at the University of Denver. Its main goal is to see whether it's possible to come up with a coherent, measurable set of beginning-teacher competencies.

From Diverse: Issues in Higher Education
by Jamaal Abdul-Alim

Orlando, Fla. – When Saron LaMothe served as counselor for several K-12 schools in some of this city's most impoverished areas, she used to pick up on cues from Black students indicating that they felt they weren't meant for certain careers.

Sometimes, she said, the cues were explicit, such when top-performing Black high school students expressed that they felt they were “acting white” for wanting to take advanced studies and pursue certain high-status professions.

Other times, LaMothe said, she got the subtle sense that some Black students—often as young as elementary school—could not envision themselves as doctors or in similar professions

“And I would want to explore: Why is that?” LaMothe said.

LaMothe is getting the chance to explore those questions and others as doctoral student through the Holmes Scholars program in the College of Education at the University of Central Florida, or UCF.

The program, which has been adopted by several institutions of higher learning throughout the United States, helps prepare members of underrepresented groups for jobs in the professoriate.

Were it not for the generous funding provided through the College of Education at UCF and the mentoring and networking support provided through Holmes Scholars, LaMothe said, a Ph.D. and the prospects of becoming a professor would simply be out of reach.

“For me, personally, I would not be here if the College of Education at UCF did not say, ‘We believe in you and we want to fund you financially to pursue this degree,'” LaMothe said. “I would not be a Holmes Scholar. I would have to either find another university or find another career path.”

Dozens of Holmes Scholars and alumni from the program shared similar stories Wednesday as they gathered for their pre-conference meeting for the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, or AATCTE, which houses the Holmes Scholars program.

AACTE leaders say the Holmes Scholars program is one of the most vital initiatives helping to change the face of American academe.

“We know we need to nurture diversity within the professoriate within higher ed,” said AACTE President and CEO Sharon Robinson. “Our effort contributes to that diversity.”

The program's positive reputation transcends the ranks of AACTE.

Dr. Orlando Taylor, a veteran higher education administrator who currently serves as Washington, D.C., Campus President and Chief Advancement Officer for the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, praised the Holmes Scholars program for making a “significant contribution to the nation by preparing the next generation of higher education faculty for the field of education.”

Since the program was established in 1991, more than 600 students have benefited, and more than 200 are now in tenure-track and leadership positions, according to AACTE.

They include individuals such as Dr. Jacob Easley II, Chair of the Education Division at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and president of the National Association of Holmes Scholars Alumni or NAHSA.

Easley said the camaraderie and networking provided through the Holmes Scholars program and its alumni association is invaluable to minority professors working at mostly White institutions, where their views and issues may not be so readily understood.

“Outside of HBCUs, the number of minority faculty tend to be very small at most traditionally White institutions,” Easley said. “So it really does help you navigate multiple norms or multiple cultures at the same time.”

In 2009, Easley said, NAHSA began to pair current Holmes Scholars with alumni who mentor them for an academic year. The organization also conducts “tenure retreats” for advanced level scholars and early career faculty members to get on the path to tenure.

Carolyn W. Hopp, Lecturer and Coordinator of the Holmes Scholars Program at UCF, said the Holmes Scholars bring a critical voice to higher education.

Scholars who have worked in the K-12 arena, such as LaMothe, will play a critical role in improving the educational experience of children from families of lesser means, Hopp said.

“The voice of the professor of color is very crucial,” Hopp said. “The doctoral studies strengthen the voice.”

LaMothe said she hasn't decided on a specific topic for her dissertation, but she is leaning toward examining the effects of “stereotype threat” on the academic performance and career aspirations of elementary school students. In short, “stereotype threat” is a phenomenon wherein individuals are anxious about potentially confirming a negative stereotype of their particular group to the point where it negatively affects their performance.

LaMothe believes that, by identifying how this phenomenon affects young children, it could illuminate ways to prevent it from affecting them later on in life.

She wants to target her research toward those who work the job that she used to work.

“I definitely want to inform the practice of practicing school counselors when it coms to the career aspirations of elementary school students,” LaMothe said. She is optimistic that by helping elementary school students that her work will eventually help students of all ages.

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