Monday, December 17, 2012

Skin in the Game

All licensure area programs should be held accountable 
for the performance of their graduates
--from the report

The Council of Chief State School Officers issued a report on teacher preparation this week. The report, from the Task Force on Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession, which was co-chaired by Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, calls for all state chief state school officers and leaders of the education systems in their respective states to commit to taking ten actions the committee believes will ensure an education workforce prepared to enter the profession ready to teach and ready to lead.

Titled, "Our Responsibility, Our Promise..." the report is intended to be a public policy crowbar for state school chiefs which focuses on "levers for change" and advocates "highly selective admissions and exit criteria" for teacher candidates along with a set of multi-tiered licensure standards and tests which are designed to lead to the closing of the lowest rated programs. The idea is to use policies on licensure, program approval, and the use of beginning teacher performance data to pound malleable institutions into submission, or oblivion. This is what Commissioner Holliday has referred to when he says that  teacher preparation institutions "ought to have some skin in the game."

The report also promises "clear and fair performance rating(s)" for teacher preparation institutions. Clear, I don't doubt. Fair, I greatly doubt. The very idea assumes that colleges can continue to control some meaningful amount of what teachers do in the field. Convince me that's true, and I'll reconsider  my position.

I was thinking back to when I was a principal...and imagined a conversation between a newly-hired young teacher and a hard-charging school reformer - just the kind advocated by the report:
Teacher: "Mrs Goodschool, I understand that you want us to do X...but I learned at UK, that that's not the best approach. Dr Bigbrain taught us another way, so instead, I'm going to do Y."
Principal: "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. That's a good one. Remind me. Do all UK professors advocate the same approaches?"
Teacher: "Well, no... "
Principal: "Have I asked you to do anything illegal?"
Teacher: "Of course not."
Principal: "Is there some law that requires us to do anything UK says?"
Teacher: "Well, no, but...."
Principal: "Will UK be conducting your evaluation this year? "
Teacher: "No."
Principal: "Well then, perhaps you don't have all of the information you need to make a sound decision about this. Let me mention one more reason why doing X is a good idea. If you follow MY directions, even if it's the opposite of whatever you were taught in college, you get to keep your job. How's that sound?"
While some useful ideas are presented, the overall approach is typical of the corporate school reform tactics going on in the P-12 world - applied to teachers and teacher preparation institutions.

It seems pretty clear to me that Teach for America does not, and could not, meet the suggested standards, but something tells me they will get a pass, anyway. Whether or not they are good teachers, TFA kids are good test-takers and that's apparently good enough for quantitatively-obsessed policy leaders these days.

This from the CCSSO 
Transforming  Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession
We believe the entry point on the continuum of development for teachers and leaders is the foundation for the remainder of their career, and we must set a level of expectation that will ensure they are ready on day one. We feel strongly that, individually and collectively, chiefs should commit to the following state actions:


1. States will revise and enforce their licensure standards for teachers and principals
to support the teaching of more demanding content aligned to college- and career readiness
and critical thinking skills to a diverse range of students.

2. States will work together to influence the development of innovative licensure
performance assessments that are aligned to the revised licensure standards and
include multiple measures of educators’ ability to perform, including the potential to
impact student achievement and growth.

3. States will create multi-tiered licensure systems aligned to a coherent developmental
continuum that reflects new performance expectations for educators and their
implementation in the learning environment and to assessments that are linked to
evidence of student achievement and growth.

4. States will reform current state licensure systems so they are more efficient, have true
reciprocity across states, and so that their credentialing structures support effective
teaching and leading toward student college- and career-readiness.

Program Approval

5. States will hold preparation programs accountable by exercising the state’s authority
to determine which programs should operate and recommend candidates for licensure
in the state, including establishing a clear and fair performance rating system to guide
continuous improvement. States will act to close programs that continually receive
the lowest rating and will provide incentives for programs whose ratings indicate
exemplary performance.

6. States will adopt and implement rigorous program approval standards to assure that
educator preparation programs recruit candidates based on supply and demand data,
have highly selective admissions and exit criteria including mastery of content, provide
high quality clinical practice throughout a candidate’s preparation that includes
experiences with the responsibilities of a school year from beginning to end, and that
produce quality candidates capable of positively impacting student achievement.

7. States will require alignment of preparation content standards to PK-12 student
standards for all licensure areas.

8. States will provide feedback, data, support, and resources to preparation programs
to assist them with continuous improvement and to act on any program approval or
national accreditation recommendations.

Data Collection, Analysis, and Reporting

9. States will develop and support state-level governance structures to guide
confidential and secure data collection, analysis, and reporting of PK-20 data and how
it informs educator preparation programs, hiring practices, and professional learning.
Using stakeholder input, states will address and take appropriate action, individually
and collectively, on the need for unique educator identifiers, links to non-traditional
preparation providers, and the sharing of candidate data among organizations and
across states.

10. States will use data collection, analysis, and reporting of multiple measures for
continuous improvement and accountability of preparation programs.


Anonymous said...

Call me old school, call me the a worry wart, but why are we trying to standardize and homogenize education in this country? Common Core, Common assessments and now we are going to expect private and public post secondaries and their respective state licensure agencies to standardize teacher training and certification?

I know I am a broken record but state tax dollars are being spent at state universities to prepare pre-service teachers to serve those states. Olympia,WA and Bangor, ME are not Owensboro or Barborville.

Equally, do we really think we are going to get the nation's professors to all agree to teach a common curriculum based upon what some big brother organization is trying to cram down their throughts?

Anonymous said...

Last I heard EPSB and KDE were on the outs with KDE's position being the release of specific student performance data associated with individual teachers to EPSB was FERPA violation. (By the way who in EPSB is even trained to review this type of data?)

Darn it don't they know that how one student performs on one test one day out of the year is a completely accurate and direct indicator of how effective a teacher has done his/her job all year? Thus one teacher's perceived effectiveness directly corrolates with how well an entire university education program's faculty trains all of its pre-service teachers.

Of course if you run this logic out a little further it get a rather circular argument - University effectiveness is aligned with professors who were trained at other universities - sounds like we will eventually close all universities if we follow that path.

How about University effectiveness is tied to the support which the state supplies to those institutions. The state gets its funding from citizens who forfeit tax money to the state instead of spending it directly on their families. Families who usually pay about 1/3 of their income to various stat and federal taxes have less money to spend on their children who have a tendancy to perform lower if they come from lower SES families. If they perform lower on assesments in school that reflects on the teacher . . . OK, you get the idea.

At some point we have to accept the limited purpose of student assessment instruments. Kids taking KPREP or PSAT are simply measuring their performance on one limited test, not measuring the job their teacher did in trying to educating them on a myriade of elements not covered on the test. If we want to go down that path then we need to start sending in social services to remove kids who score low due to poor parenting which impacts academic performance or impeach legistlator who inadequately fund education.

Somebody has got to stop these current educational leaders and bring some logical and practical direction to education. They are running the ship aground with this accountability gone amuck.

Richard Day said...

Dear Old School,

: )

The base argument of the corporate school reform movement, writ large, is a fundamental belief that teachers have been coddled (read: not sufficiently motivated) and far too many are incompetent.

In practice, reformers are looking for ways to quantify teaching to the greatest degree possible so that the bottom X% can be fired, which is believed sufficient to regain international standings. (Opponents of public schools like lots of data too, so they will know when they've finally killed public schools and redistributed all of that money into private hands.)

If all teachers were competent, they could overcome the powerful effects of poverty - even on the diminished budgets the state gives them - and all kids will learn (to get into good colleges, or make whatever the remaining nonunion skilled labor wages will bring).

So today's superintendents are expected to motivate their teachers through the vigorous use of the accountability system.

It matters little if that system is unfair. It is believed that it will be mostly OK, and only occasionally catch innocent victims.

The new effort is to extend that same thinking to higher education.

The K-12 system is unfair for many individual teachers.

For higher ed, the system will be unfair, squared.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Day,

Thanks for the insights. So if teacher ed is not a cash cow program for me as say a small liberal arts college president, why not jetison it and let the big state U take it over and avoid this game? Sounds like just an expanded version of what is occuring to teachers who have completed their programs, passed PRAXIS and gotten their certificates only to find out that they are now being evaluated to see if they are qualified to teach. I don't see how a provost or dean is going to be able to can a tenure professor or how current P&T values this type of proposed expectation. By the time your pre-service students start to work their way through the system and get their first job you will already be tenured. I am not sure how EPSB is going to close your shop when you are getting flying colors in SACs and NCATE accreditations. THey might be able to make a COE's life more difficult with score expectations and reports but I don't see the same way of impacting faculty.

I don't see private's being able to do any better than state U in this plan. As I said, it is just sad that we have come to allow the quantitatively obsessed path to drift even farther into post secondary. Seems like the logical response is eventually going to be one of a judicial nature when comes to question the validity of the certifying organziation or the creation of an alternative organization which presents a different path which education institutions can transition to.