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Caught in a Vise: The Challenges Facing Teacher Preparation in an Era of Accountability

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Ginsberg, R. & Kingston, N. (2014). Caught in a vise: the challenges facing teacher preparation in an era of accountability. Teachers College Record 116(1). Online: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=17295

Reflecting the view of most teacher educators, “Caught in a Vice” says that teacher educators hear all of the criticisms and are working diligently to address them. They are faced, however, with insurmountable technical problems in assessing teacher and training effectiveness.

In other words, they are doing everything that the state of the art will permit in order to become more effective and accountable—the dissent of external observers notwithstanding.

[As evidence of the effort that is being made] . . . the field itself created the edTPA (a portfolio-based assessment developed by 24 states and 160 participating institutions), which is a means of authentically assessing candidate performance while in preservice training (see http://edtpa.aacte.org). It certainly is true that there are a number of highly intractable problems in P–12 education, like addressing the achievement gaps and assisting the many high poverty and at-risk students, often ensconced in our urban areas. Teacher preparation must ensure that its graduates have experience teaching children living in these conditions and must work with other segments of the education landscape in addressing the issues. But, amid the very vocal criticism of the field, it appears that teacher preparation has made advances that directly address areas of concern, and it is obviously pushing itself to improve in new ways. While it is no doubt true that a great deal of improvement remains, the overall picture painted by the critics is far bleaker than the reality suggests.

What “Caught in a Vice” and the teacher preparation community consistently misunderstand is that their concerns about technical weaknesses in the assessment of teachers and teacher preparation effectiveness are not uppermost in the minds of education’s consumers.

Rather, critics from the consumer side of education recognize that there is risk in the use of imperfect assessments, but there is greater risk in ignoring best-available evidence while searching for what is likely an unattainable perfection.

What the present article reveals is that contrary to the image conveyed by years of innovations and reforms, teacher educators have been guiding themselves without a reliable compass.  Policymakers and the public do not have to understand value-added modeling or other technicalities to understand the implications of that disclosure.

Read the article by clicking here:  http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=17295