Why the New Teacher Ed. Standards Matter

caepThe Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), one of the leading organizations providing accreditation for teacher education programs across the country, recently released a new set of standards that its leaders hope will “elevate the teaching profession and improve outcomes for students.”  Mary Brabeck, dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, and Christopher Koch, Illinois state superintendent of education, are the chair and the vice chair, respectively, of the board of directors for the Washington-based Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. They recently wrote a defense of CAEP’s new standards in Education Week.

One of the aspects that may strike observers of the new standards the wrong way would be the focus on student data to judge teacher performance. Regarding these concerns, CAEP admits that improvements must be made in how data are collected and used, but they feel that the system they have created fosters a system of continuous improvement in which different institutions can help guide each other in their practices concerning student data:

While results in the classroom must be the measure by which all teacher-preparation efforts are ultimately judged, data about student achievement also will help institutions by providing information about their graduates’ success in the classroom, which in turn will help them make needed changes to their preparation programs. And this information will be a part of a broader array of evidence that will be used to measure the efficacy of teacher preparation, with an emphasis on using multiple measures while focusing on fewer, but more relevant, sources of data. They identify the kinds of data that will hold providers to high standards, but also allow them to spot areas of improvement and benchmark themselves against peer programs. In fact, we believe the real change-making potential of the standards lies within CAEP’s work to help institutions strengthen the collection of the right kinds of data and make use of the information internally—by sharing what’s working and what needs to be improved with providers, faculty, partner institutions, and students themselves. Only in this way will a true culture of continuous improvement flourish.

In addition to the focus on data, the new standards address the issue of raising respect for the teaching profession. One change that will be implemented is that “the new standards will require preparation programs, which currently have no set requirements for selectivity, to raise their expectations significantly. For example, programs will accept only the top 33 percent of students taking the ACT, the SAT, or the GRE by 2020.”

The CAEP changes come at an important time for teacher accreditation. Some scathing reviews of teacher accreditation program have come out over the last year, one of which we blogged about here. Certainly, teachers will approve of efforts to improve the perception of their profession, but the question remains whether the focus on student data can earn the support of educators and teacher educators.

For more information, please visit: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/09/18/04brabeck_ep.h33.html?r=329889973