Thursday, March 05, 2015

"Crisis of Confidence" in CAEP

"CAEP has been extremely disorganized throughout the entire process...
They changed the format on us while we were in the process of submitting our report, 
and when you attend their meetings you get different answers to questions."

-- AACTE Chair Mark R. Ginsberg

 Teacher Education Group 
Blasts Accreditor 

Holliday 'very surprised'

This from Teacher Beat:
An apparent fracture has opened up between two major players in the increasingly on-edge teacher education field, with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education criticizing the national accreditor for teacher colleges. 

While underscoring that the organization is still committed to the success of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, or CAEP, the AACTE board of directors contends in a recently approved resolution that there is a "crisis of confidence" in the accreditor.

"Specific concerns are related to the accreditation standards, process for accreditation, costs associated with accreditation, the capacity of CAEP to implement the accreditation system, and the representativeness of the CAEP governance structure," the resolution states.
The resolution was not originally on the board's agenda during its Feb. 26 meeting in Atlanta, and its passage apparently took CAEP officials by surprise. AACTE represents some 800 members.

In response, officials at CAEP acknowledge that they've sometimes struggled to supply tools and timely updates to programs trying to understand the accreditor's updated standards for teacher colleges. But they reiterated the importance of staying faithful to the new, more rigorous expectations.

James G. Cibulka
"It's a heavy lift. It's a real cultural change to say we're going to judge ourselves on the data we produce. A lot of places are not finding it easy to meet these standards," said Mary A. Brabeck, a New York University professor and the chair of CAEP's board of directors. "And part of this means a change for CAEP. It has to step up in terms of the information it provides."

At its heart, the debate underscores the two group's different tacks to the pressures facing the field. Under the leadership of James G. Cibulka, CAEP has sought to walk a fine line between competing policy visions for teacher education. One, as embodied in the U.S. Department of Education's recently proposed rules, emphasizes more accountability for programs that prepare teachers; another, largely the perspective of the AACTE, asserts that too much pressure could detract from innovations.

Concerns Listed

The AACTE's move came as an unusual development for groups that have historically been closely linked: The AACTE was one of five organizations that, in 1954, helped form one of CAEP's predecessors, and it has long been a proponent and financial supporter of national accreditation.

CAEP was created from the merger of two former accreditation organizations. In 2013, its board unanimously approved a new set of standards that, among other things, require colleges to produce evidence that they are recruiting academically capable candidates and training them to be effective in classrooms. The updated expectations will go into effect for all seeking the group's seal of approval next year.

About 900 colleges are somewhere in the accreditation process, and CAEP has signed agreements with 16 states to use its process to supplement, or substitute for, their own quality-review systems.

The litany of concerns in the AACTE resolution suggests some programs are beginning to balk at the changes before them.

Mark R. Ginsberg, the chair of AACTE's board of directors, said members find aspects of the standards confusing or ambiguous. They're worried about having the cash to develop systems for producing the CAEP-required data in an era of stagnant and declining funding for higher education. And they want to be sure that CAEP's governance represents the field's diversity.

"They are not the concerns generated out of whole cloth by the board of directors, but from listening hard and carefully to its constituents," Mr. Ginsberg said.

Process and Substance

CAEP's governance structure has been set for nearly five years, and it does differ from the one used under the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, by far the larger of the CAEP's two predecessors. Certain constituencies, such as the teachers' unions and the AACTE, got to delegate spots on NCATE's governing panels. By contrast, CAEP now uses a nominations process and performs its own vetting. (Two AACTE members currently sit on CAEP's board of directors.) The board also includes more representation from the K-12 field and policymakers than previously.

As to the substance of the standards, Mr. Ginsberg highlighted CAEP's selectivity requirements as an area that has created widespread concern among teacher education institutions. The standard will require all programs to recruit, on average, candidates with a 3.0 GPA who have posted scores in the upper third on a nationally normed entrance examination. The requirement will be ramped up in stages.

Long before the resolution appeared, teacher-educators have generally harbored concerns that raising admissions standards could disproportionately affect black and Latino candidates.

CAEP officials said they have worked hard to respond to those anxieties. The group has commissioned a study of how the step-up in selectivity would affect the teacher-candidate pool and pledged to consider the results as it implements that requirement.

Some teacher educators, meanwhile, seconded the AACTE resolution's concerns about CAEP's capacity, saying that they've experienced frustrations negotiating the new expectations, and noting several staffing changes last year at the accreditor.

"The new standards really call for a new approach, yet we're not convinced that the reviewers have been trained in any substantially different way," said Michael J. Maher, the assistant dean for professional education at North Carolina State University, in Greenville, which will be among the first institutions to be judged under the new standards.

"CAEP has been extremely disorganized throughout the entire process," Mr. Maher said. "They changed the format on us while we were in the process of submitting our report, and when you attend their meetings you get different answers to questions."

Terry Holliday
CAEP officials agreed that certain elements, such as the accreditation handbook and exemplars for the standards, should have been released sooner. But many of those work products are now finalized and being disseminated, they said.

Some contributors to CAEP's efforts expressed disappointment in the AACTE resolution.
"I was just very surprised by this resolution because [the AACTE] has been heavily involved," said Terry Holliday, the Kentucky Commissioner of Education and the co-chair of the panel that developed the new CAEP standards. "It is very concerning, and I think they're kind of speaking out of both sides of their mouth. They say they want a universal accreditation system and to have high standards, but they don't come up with alternatives."
A former AACTE president added that he was puzzled by the resolution, noting that the group recently opposed the Education Department's proposed rules for teacher preparation and the quality review propogated by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based advocacy group.

"There is a need to move to embrace a couple things they are for­—other than the edTPA," said David Imig, a University of Maryland, College Park education professor, referring to a teacher-certification exam that itself has proved controversial.

If disagreements destabilize CAEP, it would likely have unintended consequences, Mr. Holliday warned.

"A critical piece is that a profession should police itself, and I think that's what an accreditation process does," he concluded. "I'm afraid if we don't police ourselves, someone else will do it for us, like the [U.S.] Department of Education. They're certainly trying to."


Anonymous said...

A former dean indicated that in order to facilitate the CAEP process that our college would be required to hire a data analysis as well as invest in data software management system which would cost well over $100,000. As mentioned in the article, one must wonder if this ongoing expense simply to oversee data collection and process is really going to improve teacher education. One might speculate that teacher prep is now being forced to go down the same path as K12 which increasing investment(financial, personnel and time) in bureaucratic mechanisms which seem to only grow over time.

Commish needs to listen to what AACTE is saying instead of declaring they are "speaking out of both side of their mouth." They are not questioning the need for oversight, review and accreditation by an organization. The criticism is the process and mechanisms might not be practical in their current form and most certainly can't be used as a template if CAEP continues to not only fail to provide the specific parameters and tools well in advance, but also is apparently inconsistent in its representatives' responses.

Anonymous said...

I had little use for Cibulka who was once head of the UK College of Education. Cibulka did not know the faculty well, nor the students. UK was a a rung on the ladder for this man.

As for Dr. Holliday, I even less respect for him or the dissertation he wrote at the University of South Carolina.

I see neither of these men as competent leaders in a field that desperately needs them.

Anonymous said...

Seems like a few folks gain empowerment by using outliers and extremes as their justification to beat the drums of fear and anxiety about most any matters these days. Media picks it up to sell papers, air time or pump up ratings and so the vast majority of folks who are doing things right, be it in education, medicine, law enforcement, etc., are perceived by the public as being covered with this false impression of ineffectiveness.

Then the trumpeters of reform and accountability are empowered with the immediacy to impose their own unproven, under developed, impractical interventions not on the few who are failing to meet the expectation but upon all, regardless of ability or success.

The saddest part of this toxic attempt at oversight is that it robs the respective system and its highest performers of their intrinsic motivation as well as the ideals and purpose of the order/organization. If I am a good teacher, physician or police officer, I now find myself under an unjustified cloud of public doubt. Instead of doing what has made me effective in my own profession and location, I must now dilute that effort with externally imposed mandates for all and effort syphoned not toward the direct need but to fulfill some secondary mandates that provides very little support for those for whom I directly seek to serve. Many lose hope and faith in their discipline which has become hijacked by self defined prophets of professionalism. Again, that is the saddest part - when good folks are disheartened, trampled and simply give up on serving those they have consistently demonstrated success. That leaves only the seasoned folks who must accept half-functionability as the norm in a marginalized environment of bureaucratic bungling and policy/practice wandering. New members to the profession who know no better become indoctrinated not to the genuine ideals of the profession but assume the oversight organization and it regulations, unilateral edicts and detached, heavy handed declarations are the purpose for their practice and not those for whom they actually serve.