The Obama administration wants to expand the use of standardized test scores as an accountability tool from K-12 into higher education.

The Education Department just tried — and failed — to persuade a group of negotiators to agree to regulations that would rate colleges of education in large part on how K-12 students being taught by their graduates perform on standardized tests. As part of this scheme, financial aid to students in these programs would not be based entirely on need but, rather, would also be linked to test scores.

The department’s plans assume that standardized test scores can reliably and validly be used for such accountability purposes . Most researchers in this field say they can’t — for a number of reasons, including the limitations of the tests themselves — and therefore shouldn’t be used for any high stakes decision in education anywhere. They say that making test scores so important is one of the negative consequences of the last decade of No Child Left Behind, and shouldn’t be continued.

From Inside Higher Ed
By Libby A. Nelson

WASHINGTON -- When the Education Department writes rules later this year that will change how teacher preparation programs become eligible for students to receive some forms of federal financial aid, it will tackle the task on its own.

A federal panel charged with recommending how best to overhaul regulations governing teacher preparation programs acknowledged Thursday afternoon that it would not reach a consensus on a set of proposals, and that the gaps between some negotiators -- and between negotiators and the Education Department -- remained too wide on too many issues.

From Education Week
By Sharon P. Robinson, Ed.D., president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)

"Writing the Next Chapter," "Providing a Learning Journey for All," and "Embracing the Future" — these are taglines from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education's (AACTE) 2011, 2012 and 2013 Annual Meetings. To me, though, they are more than just taglines. They articulate priorities for the 800 college- and university-based educator preparation programs that hold AACTE membership. They are the overarching ideals for hundreds of sessions at each year's conference that illustrate how the educator preparation profession is changing for the better. They are also guiding principles that say, "We're moving in the right direction, but there are many improvements left to make. Let's get to work." And we are doing just that.

From National Journal
By Sharon Robinson

The demographics of the education workforce are sobering. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, significant increases are expected in new public school teacher hires and new private school teacher hires each year between 2008 and 2020. For example, there were approximately 313,000 new teachers hired in public schools in 2008, a 41 percent increase from 1999. By 2020, that number is expected to increase to 350,000. Thus, there is no time to waste.

The Department of Education is right to turn attention to the issue of highly qualified and effective teachers and other educators. Fortunately, some of the stated objectives of the RESPECT proposal are already being addressed in programs that are authorized and funded. One of those programs is the federal TEACH grants are attracting highly qualified teacher candidates who will be go on to teach a minimum of four years in high-need disciplines (STEM, special education, English language learners, etc.) in high-need schools. Candidates for TEACH grants are some of the best and brightest, required to have scored in the top quartile of admissions tests or maintain a GPA of 3.25. After just three and a half years, TEACH grants have produced more than 2,300 such teachers with thousands more lined up to enter the workforce in the coming year.

From Education Week
By Anthony Jackson

I appreciated a comment posted on this blog a couple weeks back about supporting American teachers and celebrating the great achievements in the American schools, particularly as international comparisons have put the spotlight on school systems abroad. My colleague, Neelam Chowdhary, executive director of global learning programs at Asia Society, shares a conversation she was part of at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education that I think gives us all needed perspective.

During the 2012 American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) annual conference last month, I had the pleasure of participating on a panel that explored the promises and challenges of preparing teachers to be more globally minded to meet the needs of 21st century learners.

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