Google Find us on Google+

Teachers’ teachers face test as scrutiny of education rises

Jun 10, 2013 by

When Candice McQueen learned last fall that a controversial statistical analysis had declared her teacher-training program relatively weak in the area of social studies, she wasn’t surprised.

Earlier feedback, including postgraduation surveys, had suggested that the college of education at Nashville’s Lipscomb University needed to bolster its social studies training, said McQueen, the college’s dean. But the state data spurred McQueen to act more quickly. College faculty and administrators began scrutinizing the social studies curriculum and training approach, partly in the hope of warding off future embarrassment.

Lester School assistant principal Dr. Isaac Robinson evaluates fourth grade teacher Debra Holt-Robinson’s (no relation) class at the school. Robinson observes the teacher and the lesson then moves through the class to see how well the students grasp the concepts taught. (Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal)


Lester School assistant principal Dr. Isaac Robinson evaluates fourth grade teacher Debra Holt-Robinson’s (no relation) class at the school. Robinson observes the teacher and the lesson then moves through the class to see how well the students grasp the concepts taught. (Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal)

Scores of teacher-training programs across the country will likely face similar scrutiny in the coming years. Following the lead of Tennessee and Louisiana, policymakers in a growing number of states are evaluating the programs — and even issuing report cards for them — based on the test scores of their graduates’ students. So far, eight states have policies requiring them to do a similar analysis, most of them adopted in the last few years, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a research and advocacy group that supports higher standards for schools of education.

“This is a policy movement that’s sweeping the country,” said Charles Peck, a professor of special education and teacher education in the University of Washington’s College of Education.

Related efforts to evaluate individual teachers based on student test scores have sparked a flurry of publicity — and led to a federal lawsuit filed by a group of Florida teachers who complained they would be rated on the test scores of students who weren’t even in their classes. But those efforts targeted at preparation programs (which include long-standing university-based schools of education and less-traditional programs like Teach For America) have gone comparatively unnoticed and unexamined.

As other states follow a similar path, the experience in Louisiana and Tennessee speaks to the promise and peril of the new approach. Some programs, like McQueen’s, have used the data to make improvements. “I’m a big believer in never looking at just one piece of program data,” said McQueen. “But this encouraged us to move faster than we might have.”

Some worry, though, that the data can be overly simplistic, and misleading at times. Do low reading scores recorded years after a group of teachers enter the classroom, for instance, mean their training program had a bad curriculum or weak instructors? Or did it admit weaker candidates from the start, or perhaps send them off to schools with less supportive principals?

“It’s kind of like having a fire alarm go off in your house, but not knowing where the fire is,” says Peck.

Pinpointing weaknesses

via Teachers’ teachers face test as scrutiny of education rises | Hechinger Report.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

UA-24036587-1