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The Obama administration last week announced draft regulations to evaluate the effectiveness of more than 2,000 teacher preparation programs nationwide, but how exactly they would apply to California is unclear.

The draft regulations come at a time not only when the state must train a  new generation of teachers to teach using the Common Core State Standards, the new academic standards in math and  reading adopting by 43 states, but also when it faces declining enrollments in its teacher preparation programs.

If the regulations are implemented, states would have to rank these programs in four categories: low-performing, at-risk, effective or exceptional.  The outcome of the evaluation could have “high-stakes” consequences – only programs ranked “effective” or “exceptional” for two out of the previous three years would be eligible to provide their teachers-in-training with financial aid through the federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education, or TEACH program. The student aid program requires recipients to teach in a high-need field like math or science or in a school serving low-income students.

During the 2013-14 school year, the federal government provided $6.4 million in TEACH grants to 2,641 students enrolled in teacher preparation programs in California. That is out of about 32,000 students who received grants through the $95 million program nationally.

“We don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all solution here,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “What is right for California is not necessarily right for North Dakota. But we believe states are the right place to take leadership and ownership of this work.”

The proposed regulations state that administrators of teacher education programs would have to conduct surveys of their graduates and the principals of the schools where they work to gauge their respective levels of satisfaction, provide data on placement and retention rates, and use other measures to assess their effectiveness.

For California, the most contentious criterion listed could be the requirement that new teachers be evaluated on “measures of student growth, performance on state or local teacher evaluation measures that include data on student growth, or both, during their first three teaching years.”

In most states, these measures of student growth have included using students’ scores on standardized tests. California is one of only a handful of states that have resisted pressures from the Obama administration to move toward using test scores of students to evaluate teachers. The state has also resisted requiring districts to use a controversial “value added” statistical methodology that projects how a student should score on a test by taking into account certain demographic and other background factors, and then ranks a teacher based on the “value added” scores of the teacher’s students.

During a telephone press conference in Washington, D.C., last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan went out of his way to say that states would have maximum flexibility in evaluating their teacher preparation programs.

“I believe that states can be labs of innovation,” he said. “We don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all solution here. What is right for California is not necessarily right for North Dakota. But we believe states are the right place to take leadership and ownership of this work.”

U.S. Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell, a former president of the California’s State Board of Education, underscored that message.

“These regulations do not demand that states rate teacher training programs on the basis of  how well students complete standardized  tests, nor does it require states to use value added methodology,” he said. “What it does do is require states to come up with a measure of student learning outcomes which we believe strongly needs to be based on multiple measures. We are asking states to use, for example, either their own state regimens, or local teacher evaluation metrics to be able to do that…. To be very clear, we are not basing the evaluation of teacher education programs on simply student standardized test score performance.”

But the administration’s reference to “multiple measures” is widely understood to include measuring student performance through test scores. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, worried that the proposed regulations would make it less likely that aspiring teachers would would want to teach in communities where students have lower test scores — and discourage teacher preparation programs from placing their graduates in classrooms there.

“This will cause programs to reconsider placing their graduates in schools that serve our most vulnerable students,” she said in a statement. “And aspiring teachers who come from disadvantaged backgrounds will find their opportunities closed down as accountability pressures rise without increased support.”

In response to follow-up queries seeking clarification, a statement provided to EdSource by the U.S. Department of Education did not state directly whether California would need to include test scores as one of the “multiple measures” that must be used to assess a student’s academic growth.

Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad, the founder of the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, welcomed the regulations, and emphasized the importance of teacher preparation programs giving their students opportunities to be in a classroom before they get their credential. “They need to provide more high-quality classroom experience for their students before they graduate,” Broad told the Los Angeles Times. “They also have to work with school districts to better meet the needs of today’s public schools. The new regulations are a step in the right direction.”

Officials with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing say the state is already moving to revamp accreditation of teacher education programs. They will be looking at data from each program, such as surveys of both employers and graduates of the program, how many graduates actually enter teaching, and their retention rates once they do, and requirements for exiting the program, such as teacher performance assessments.

The commission will discuss the draft regulations at its meeting Dec. 11 and 12 in Sacramento. The commission accredits approximately 260 teacher preparation institutions. Last year, out of 33 institutions reviewed for accreditation, 24 were accredited, seven were accredited with stipulations, and only one – the small teacher preparation program run by Envision Schools, which operates three charter schools – had its accreditation revoked.

An additional challenge for California is declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs. The numbers have plummeted over the last decade or so, from 77,500 in 2001-02, to under 20,000 in 2012-13, the last year for which figures are available.

The regulations contain two changes from earlier drafts, according to Education Week. The timeline for complying with the new regulations has been extended, and withholding of TEACH grants for underperforming programs wouldn’t begin until at least 2020. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teacher certification programs would still be able to offer TEACH grants even if they aren’t rated as effective – as long as grant recipients “completed a year of their service requirements within three years of graduating.”

California educators have a chance to weigh in on the regulations during the 60-day public comment period. The final rule will be published in mid-June.

“This is a draft,” Duncan emphasized last week. “We look forward to people’s feedback to make this better, stronger, smarter.”

 


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  1. Bruce William Smith 2 years ago2 years ago

    California's draft regulations are preferable to those just issued by the Obama administration. There is agreement between them on most of the criteria, such as satisfaction surveys of schools' graduates and their employers, and data on their opportunity to use their training in paid professional teaching, and on how long they remain in teaching; but California's proposed use of teacher performance assessments is superior to the federal requirement for measuring student performance outcomes because it … Read More

    California’s draft regulations are preferable to those just issued by the Obama administration. There is agreement between them on most of the criteria, such as satisfaction surveys of schools’ graduates and their employers, and data on their opportunity to use their training in paid professional teaching, and on how long they remain in teaching; but California’s proposed use of teacher performance assessments is superior to the federal requirement for measuring student performance outcomes because it is more just: the person receiving the consequences of the appraisal (the teacher) is the one whose performance is actually being directly assessed, rather than having the quality of that person’s performance sloppily and invalidly inferred based on spreadsheet data about other people’s performances on assessments that carry no consequences for them, the test-takers. This federal approach remains deeply unpopular, is undermining the entire mainstream education reform movement, and is driving talented young people in droves away from where they may be needed most, in the mathematics and science classrooms of the underprivileged, whose salvation will never come from these reformers who work so doggedly to save them.

    Replies

    • tom 2 years ago2 years ago

      Interesting Bruce, have not seen a description of the CA plan but would like to. I'm curious what metrics this plan uses to assess teachers if not student performance. Hopefully has some meaningful metrics like academic achievement. I'm also curious about your statement that the federal proposal undermines the reform movement and is driving away talented young people who want to be teachers. I would point out that these folks driven … Read More

      Interesting Bruce, have not seen a description of the CA plan but would like to. I’m curious what metrics this plan uses to assess teachers if not student performance. Hopefully has some meaningful metrics like academic achievement. I’m also curious about your statement that the federal proposal undermines the reform movement and is driving away talented young people who want to be teachers. I would point out that these folks driven away from teaching would very likely end up working in the private sector, and guess what, their success will depend on performance and merit. There is no getting away from it, and the time has come for teachers to be evaluated on performance and merit, not years of service. Charter Schools operate this way, and it works for schools as well. Oh, and, lets pay top performing teachers more. If you do that, will see most teachers working harder to improve student outcomes. It’s just a superior, proven system.

  2. Michael Metcalf 2 years ago2 years ago

    Why would anyone "supposedly" weigh in on this matter? It's a foregone conclusion. With the exception of minor tweaks here and there, the Federal Regulation is a done deal. It's interesting to me that we as educators, truly have no real voice in this matter. Of course Eli Broad knows best. Why are we listening to someone who has never taught in the classroom? Teacher "effectiveness" is not a measurable quantity … Read More

    Why would anyone “supposedly” weigh in on this matter? It’s a foregone conclusion. With the exception of minor tweaks here and there, the Federal Regulation is a done deal. It’s interesting to me that we as educators, truly have no real voice in this matter. Of course Eli Broad knows best. Why are we listening to someone who has never taught in the classroom? Teacher “effectiveness” is not a measurable quantity with respect to so-called “student achievement”. The value-added model has been thoroughly discredited. It is not and never will be a valid and reliable indicator of teacher effectiveness. As long as the color green dominates the the discussion, people who are truly ignorant of the learning process will be able to have their way.

    Replies

    • tom 2 years ago2 years ago

      Michael - As a parent, I would argue that teachers whose job it is to educate our kids absolutely need to be evaluated for their effectiveness, somehow. K-12 teaching can be characterized as a craft profession where teachers are allowed a lot of leeway in means and methods, so how can someone determine how effective a teacher is in their craft without measuring the outcome? Would you protect low performing teachers churning out … Read More

      Michael – As a parent, I would argue that teachers whose job it is to educate our kids absolutely need to be evaluated for their effectiveness, somehow. K-12 teaching can be characterized as a craft profession where teachers are allowed a lot of leeway in means and methods, so how can someone determine how effective a teacher is in their craft without measuring the outcome? Would you protect low performing teachers churning out low achieving students completely immune from all accountability for their results? Clearly there are issues with poverty and broken families to consider, but lets not give teachers a complete pass on accountability. Check out the article on California Charter Schools Association on this recent post, and note that this group monitors Charters, and if they are not producing results, will pull their Charter! I think I’m in the majority opinion to say similiar accountability is needed in government run schools to improve “student achievement.” That kind of action would be fought hard by the entrenched CTA, and they have hundreds of millions of our “green” but change takes time.

      • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

        Ironic that you would interpret this as evaluating teachers. The regulations were intended to evaluate teacher programs, not the teachers, but in reality it's just a roundabout way of getting VAM inserted while no one is looking. I was going to comment on this until I noticed that the first thing on the draft regulations page is an 'info graphic' that says, 'Teachers in the top 20% of performance generate 5-6 more months of student … Read More

        Ironic that you would interpret this as evaluating teachers. The regulations were intended to evaluate teacher programs, not the teachers, but in reality it’s just a roundabout way of getting VAM inserted while no one is looking.

        I was going to comment on this until I noticed that the first thing on the draft regulations page is an ‘info graphic’ that says, ‘Teachers in the top 20% of performance generate 5-6 more months of student learning each year than low-performing teachers

        Ugh.

        Clearly someone doesn’t understand that relative measures like deciles or percentiles are just that: relative. I hope those ‘mathematicians’ aren’t the ones implementing VAM.

        Anyway, when we provide teachers with the resources they need to succeed then maybe we can talk about trying to evaluate them. In the meantime VAM doesn’t measure what you think it does.

        (Btw ccsa doesn’t have the power to revoke charters).

        • tom 2 years ago2 years ago

          Well I guess my interpretation was ironic, but as you point out, it is correct. "Teacher evaluations" is also in the posted article. In any event, this looks like politicians doing their obfuscation to try and keep as many voters as possible happy. Ironic that a liberal democratic Obama administration is generating this draft regulation, eh? I'll wager that at least 90% of the teachers in CA voted for Obama - … Read More

          Well I guess my interpretation was ironic, but as you point out, it is correct. “Teacher evaluations” is also in the posted article. In any event, this looks like politicians doing their obfuscation to try and keep as many voters as possible happy. Ironic that a liberal democratic Obama administration is generating this draft regulation, eh? I’ll wager that at least 90% of the teachers in CA voted for Obama – twice. It is time to wake up and smell the coffee.

          Agree that we need way more money for K-12 schools. Would have much more productive and employable adults if we did! Too bad we cannot extort it out of Gov. Brown like the UC’s are doing – brilliant.

          Technically you are correct about CCSA, they can only recommend non-renewal, but their opinion carries a lot of weight as the article describes. To redirect, the point is that they do hold Charter Schools accountable, and it works btw. Charters do a lot of things prohibited by contract in non-Charter schools.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            The teacher evaluations are only for the first three years, which seems a way to have them reflect more on the program than the teacher herself. But I said ironic because I think in the end you're right. It's a way to shoehorn standardized test performance metrics into the evaluation process. And note that three years would be the probationary duration in some states. I don't think anything Obama does in education is ironic (there … Read More

            The teacher evaluations are only for the first three years, which seems a way to have them reflect more on the program than the teacher herself. But I said ironic because I think in the end you’re right. It’s a way to shoehorn standardized test performance metrics into the evaluation process. And note that three years would be the probationary duration in some states.

            I don’t think anything Obama does in education is ironic (there is no such thing as ‘liberal’ or even ‘democratic’ in this domain, and especially not in obama’s education policy). He published his education agenda a few years back. It reads like a study guide for waiting for stupidman.

            Personally I think the ccsa just wants to make it sound like they’re making noise on the issue. I don’t really think they have much weight with local boards. In 2011 they made ‘big news’ by publishing a list of 10 schools that should be closed (edsource covered this). 8 of those schools are still open. One that was closed was closed explicitly for financial reasons. The other seems to have reached its api target so not clear whether the closure was related to academic performance. Note also that the CSDC has criticized CCSA’s approach as invalid. I think it might give local BoEs an extra excuse if they already have a reason to revoke. But I don’t think any of them would move solely on that body’s recommendation. IMHO anyway.

        • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

          Navigio: The Administration has obviously bought into the performance model pushed by the "reforminess" crowd, and other usual suspects, based on the calculations of an economist named Saunders. That Mr. Suanders had a specialty in agricultural issues and not education seems to bother few who are relentlessly searching for the holy grail of an over-simplified accountability model. And you are correct, the the concept behind the curtain that no one is supposed to pay attention to is … Read More

          Navigio:

          The Administration has obviously bought into the performance model pushed by the “reforminess” crowd, and other usual suspects, based on the calculations of an economist named Saunders. That Mr. Suanders had a specialty in agricultural issues and not education seems to bother few who are relentlessly searching for the holy grail of an over-simplified accountability model.

          And you are correct, the the concept behind the curtain that no one is supposed to pay attention to is VAM. Now, those whose specialty is actually statistics and education have universally condemned VAM. There are key differences in predicting production of bushels and predicting educational achievement.

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