Education Week - February 17, 2016 - (Page 20)

COMMENTARY Increased Accountability of Teacher Prep Gives Equity the Back Seat T By Corey Drake & Terry K. Flennaugh eacher-preparation programs are under greater accountability pressure than at any time in recent history. The sources of this pressure include a number of factors: the move to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (or CAEP) standards for the accreditation of these programs; the recent release of federal regulations for teacher-preparation programs; and the state-level efforts to more closely and publicly evaluate them. In each instance, accountability efforts are focused on a growing list of detailed requirements for teacher preparation, including requirements for admission and expectations for teacher-candidate outcomes. On the list is also a closer inspection of the link between programs and their graduates' "effectiveness" ratings, measured in large part by students' standardized-test scores. As teacher-educators at Michigan State University's College of Education-a large, public, and highly ranked preparation program-we agree that it is important for those who prepare educators to be clear about what new teachers should know and be able to do; understand how the learning opportunities provided in teacher preparation are designed to lead to the desired knowledge and practices; and collect and learn from evidence about how these " Will we measure what we care about, or will we measure what is easy to measure?" opportunities are, or are not, supporting novice teachers in developing the desired knowledge and practices. However, we are concerned that, as in K-12 education, the intensification of the accountability process will lead to, at best, a lack of focus on equity and the real issues that face new teachers (and, ultimately, all teachers) and, at worst, a system of disincentives that discourage teacher-preparation programs from developing and enacting innovative methods to prepare teachers to work with high-needs schools and districts. We see how this is happening already and would like to propose a new meaning and metric for program effectiveness. Our goal is to use the mechanism of accountability to reward programs that are working to address the most pressing teacher-preparation issues of our time: preparing educators to teach diverse groups of students, disrupt systems of privilege and oppression, and provide high-quality learning opportunities for all students. Currently, there are at least three ways in which recent accountability systems discourage a focus on preparing teachers to enact equitable instructional practices with diverse groups of learners: 1. While language about equity is embedded in the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) and CAEP standards, it is not the focus of either. Equity, in both instances, is discussed in broad ways that group related ideas and practices into single standards. Further, any focus on equity exists in tension with other standards, such as admission requirements for entering cohorts of teachercandidates. This can have the effect of limiting the diversity of the applicant pool by relying too heavily on the quality of the prospective teachers' high school experiences. 2. New accountability systems require the evaluation of teacher-preparation programs based, in part, on the teaching "effectiveness" of their graduates. However, because standardized-test-achievement outcomes are easier to measure than equity outcomes, this focus on teacher effectiveness typically leads to a focus on test performance at the expense of attention to equity. 3. Further, this emphasis on the effectiveness of teacherpreparation-program graduates in K-12 schools creates a disincentive to place them in struggling schools and districts. This is not because these new teachers are ill-prepared to teach in high-needs contexts, but instead because the measures used to identify effectiveness in these contexts are faulty. Self-Care Is the Educator's Core Standard H By Christopher Doyle ow well do teachers model the behaviors that we wish for all our students? How do we educators rate as exemplars of commitment to the life of the mind, family, friends, civic engagement, and physical and emotional health? Before we presume to teach others, doesn't it make sense to ask if we are taking care of ourselves? The idea that societal role models should prioritize self-care goes as far back as Socrates. According to Plato's Alcibiades, Socrates regularly inquired whether his students were taking care of themselves. During the climactic moment of his trial, Socrates, who was accused of impiety, turned the tables on his judges by saying, "You preoccupy yourselves without shame in acquiring wealth and reputation and honors," but do not take care of yourselves. How dare the judges aspire to run a city-state when they lacked basic insight into their own lives? To the ancients, to take care of oneself meant to pursue truth, beauty, wisdom, and self-mastery. A person could not be helpful to others if he or she was deluded, ignorant, unrefined, or a slave to his or her own passions-or vocation. Far from selfish, self- " iStockphoto We should show our students, through the examples of our own lives, that they can lead healthy, multifaceted existences." 20 | EDUCATION WEEK | February 17, 2016 | care was foundational for serving others. I do not see much self-care among educators today. Like American society at large, many of us are overworked, stretched thin financially, and torn between roles as spouses, parents, and employees. Teachers occupy the middle to lower tiers of a middle class that, according to economists, has faced massive pressure and attrition since the late 1970s. Many educators find themselves desperately treading water to avoid being swept into an underclass of working poor. I know quite a few who endure a Dickensian existence of full-time teaching, parttime supplemental work, evening graduate classes, and child care. Not unlike other professionals devoted to nurture, such as doctors, teachers are measured-and measure themselves- against an idealized image of excellence that involves incessant work. Popular books such as Erin Gruwell's The Freedom Writers Diary (also a film) and Rafe Esquith's Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire land their authors on best-seller lists and NPR. Engrained in pop culture is an image of the crusading teacher whose entire life is consumed by his or her work. Yet that image is not a sustainable reality, neither for Gruwell-who taught for only four years-nor Esquith, who was fired last fall (and not without controversy) for alleged misconduct. Society also judges educators against a negative and equally unrepresentative stereotype: the lazy teacher whose unionized perquisites enable a cushy, tenured job. To combat this image, education leaders pepper school and district mission statements with phrases about their commitment to the "relentless pursuit" of excellence. Such single-mindedness rings false, but it, too, pits teachers against an expectation that they will spend all their time working. Economic necessity as well as internal and external pressures to work more do teachers great harm. I began my career more than 30 years ago and can no longer count the number of talented colleagues I have seen burn out and leave the profession. More insidious and even sadder are those friends and colleagues who lost marriages because of their careers, turned to alcohol or other substance abuse for solace, ruined their health through poor diets and lack of exercise, and needed medication for stress-related ailments. On a more mundane level, sleep deprivation is the norm and often a perverse point of pride among us. But what does a workaholic teacher give to his or her students? In the last few weeks, three of mine confided their life ambitions to me. All three, ranging in age from 14 to 22, said that their career aspirations would likely preclude marriage and children. "I just couldn't do it all, and my career will matter more," the oldest, a senior in college, announced.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - February 17, 2016

Education Week - February 17, 2016
Preservice Programs Seek To Head Off Teacher Biases
Black Male Teachers a Rarity
Consolidation Fight Erupts In Vermont
In Cities With Choice, Single- Enrollment Systems Hit Hurdles
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Letting Students Work From Home Adds Policy Twist
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Q&A: Principals Urged To ‘Shadow’ Students
Study: Showing Standout Work To Students Can Backfire
U.S. Manages to Reduce Share Of Low PISA Scores— in Science
Blogs of the Week
Lawmakers Pledging to Keep Close Eye on ESSA Implementation
Obama Budget Doubles As Policy Document
Blogs of the Week
Five-State Study Examines Teaching Shifts Under Core
Kansas High Court Strikes Down Stopgap Aid Formula
State of the States
Increased Accountability of Teacher Prep Gives Equity the Back Seat
Self-Care Is the Educator’s Core Standard
Beware the Racist Subtext Of Children’s Books
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Dispatch From Flint, Mich.: Our Water Crisis Is a Crisis of Trust

Education Week - February 17, 2016