This interview features insights from the JTE article, “Predictive Validity and Impact of CAEP Standards 3.2: Results from One Master’s- Level Teacher Preparation Program.” Author Carla Evans expounds on the article, which is featured in the September/October issue of JTE. You can read the full text by visiting this link.
Q1. What motivated you to pursue this particular research topic?
Leaders in the Education Department, Division of Educator Preparation, at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) wanted to investigate the relationship between teacher candidates’ undergraduate GPA and GRE scores to “success” in UNH’s master’s-level teacher preparation program. The Education Department asked me to conduct this study because they were concerned about the ramifications on admissions of the newly adopted CAEP accreditation standards. In particular, CAEP Standard 3.2, as originally written, required cohort average performance on a nationally normed achievement/ability test in the top third of the national distribution by 2020. This is an incredibly high bar for performance on the GRE and leaders in the Division of Educator Preparation at UNH wanted to ensure that more rigorous admissions requirements were actually predictive of success and teacher candidate quality given the potential impact on admissions. It is also important to note that the number of applicants to UNH’s teacher preparation program had been in decline for several years prior to the new accreditation standards and therefore leaders in the Division of Educator Preparation were already concerned about declining enrollments.
Q2. Were there any specific external events (political, social, economic) that influenced your decision to engage in this research study?
As mentioned above, this research study was influenced by the new CAEP national accreditation standards adopted in 2013 that resulted from a merger of the two national accreditation boards. The heightened accountability requirements reflected in the new CAEP standards resulted from a socio-political context and policy discourse that is attempting to causally link teacher effectiveness and teacher preparation effectiveness to student achievement outcomes. Interestingly, CAEP Standard 3.2 was re-written to be more lenient during the time it took for this study to be peer reviewed and published and the accrediting board attempted to clarify the different ways teacher preparation programs could meet this standard. I re-wrote the introduction and conclusion to this article a couple of times because of that changing policy context. I think this is important because it seems to me that the heightened state of concern and euphoric optimism about teacher evaluation reforms such as value-added models has waned in the last couple of years and may continue to impact how the CAEP standards are implemented in practice.
Q3. What were some difficulties you encountered with the research?
Most of the difficulties I encountered in this research study resulted from the limited outcome data available from the program on teacher candidates. The Education Department collects information on student “success” in student teaching, but that information is based on teacher candidates’ goal setting and is not easily usable in a quantitative research study. This made it difficult to use multiple outcome measures beyond graduate GPA which typically suffers from range restriction and it not necessarily the best measure of teacher candidate success in the program or their eventual effectiveness as an in-service teacher.
Q4. What current areas of research are you pursuing?
My research focuses on the impact and implementation of assessment and accountability policies on teaching and learning. Right now, I’m conducting research on the effects of an innovative assessment and accountability system (New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment of Competency Education pilot) on student achievement outcomes over the first three years of the pilot (2014-2017). This research relates to the provision under the Every Student Succeeds Act that allows up to seven states to apply for a waiver from federal regulations related to state annual achievement testing in order to pilot innovative systems. I’m also doing research to validate a school level competency-based education implementation survey and using results from the seven Northeast states to examine results from that survey across different state policy contexts.
Q5. What new challenges do you see for the field of teacher education?
First let me say that I am not an expert in the field of teacher education and there are many others more qualified to answer this question than I. That being said, I have been thinking a lot about the rhetoric surrounding teacher effectiveness and, specifically, some of the policy swings that have taken place more recently related to state-level teacher evaluation policies. I think one challenge for the field of teacher education is going to be that the teaching profession may seem less appealing as a career for some individuals as a result of the negative rhetoric surrounding teacher quality. Many teacher education programs are already facing a downturn in enrollment that will eventually affect staffing, resources, and support structures within institutions—all of which can then affect program quality. I foresee this as a challenge for the field of teacher education because the field itself may need to more persuasively push back on the negative rhetoric and make a compelling case that 1) attracting the “best and brightest” is not possible in a context where the teaching profession itself is not valued by society and 2) using K-12 student outcomes as a significant criterion of teacher or teacher preparation program quality is problematic at best.
If you would like to connect with Carla Evans, she can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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