A Call for Mixed Methods in Evaluating Teacher Preparation Programs

A Call for Mixed Methods in Evaluating Teacher Preparation Programs

Anne Henry Cash (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0204-3.ch026
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This chapter describes current and future approaches to evaluating teacher preparation programs. Available assessments and common preparation pathways are reviewed. Obstacles to conducting evaluation for the purposes of continuous improvement are described. Recommendations are provided for using quantitative and qualitative methods to identify features of teacher preparation programs that have the strongest impact on graduates' performance and retention, such that teacher preparation programs may act on this knowledge for the purpose of continuous improvement. Next steps for teacher preparation programs include improving assessment capacity, identifying mediators and moderators of graduate outcomes, utilizing experimental methods when possible, and continuing qualitative work to inform program improvement.
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Researchers have known for some time that effective teachers are important contributors to students’ learning (Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005). Ever since, there has been an increasing focus on teacher evaluation for the purposes of accountability and quality improvement. States and school districts want to know which teachers they should recruit, hire, support, retain, reward, and release, and how to approach these processes. This has led to rapid change in policies on teacher evaluation. In 2009, only four states required student learning outcomes to be included as evidence of teacher effectiveness, but by 2013, only ten states did not require evidence of student learning in some form (National Council on Teacher Quality, 2014).

Identifying which teachers are the most effective in producing positive academic, behavioral, and social outcomes for our students is extremely difficult. When states and school districts try to use value-added models to assess the impact that in-service teachers have on their students’ achievement, concerns have been raised regarding the reliability and validity of the models, the availability of achievement tests across subjects and grade levels, and the lack of information about teachers’ practices required for teacher feedback and support (Glazerman et al., 2010; McCaffrey, Lockwood, Koretz, Louis, & Hamilton, 2004; MET Project, 2012). Student surveys have been used to evaluate teacher-student interactions that are associated with student outcomes (Fauth, Decristan, Rieser, Klieme, & Büttner, 2014), yet surveys require skills for reading, sustained attention, memory, and abstract thought which are less well developed in young children (Woolley, Bowen, & Bowen, 2005). Observational methods can be useful for assessing in-service teacher effectiveness, yet these measures too are subject to concerns about reliability and validity, as well as issues of cost and feasibility in implementation. There is a growing consensus that teacher evaluation requires multiple assessment approaches. In fact, assessments of teacher effectiveness are more predictive of student achievement when used in combination than when used independently (Kane, Taylor, Tyler, & Wooten, 2011; Rockoff & Speroni, 2011).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Reliability: The degree to which an assessment produces consistent results with repeated administration or across multiple raters.

Retention: The duration of time for which a teaching candidate pursues training within a teacher preparation program or for which a teacher remains teaching in a particular school, district, or at all.

Pre-Service Teacher Candidate: An individual who is preparing for licensure through a teacher preparation program but is not yet eligible for licensure.

Teacher Preparation Program: Any pathway that prepares teachers for licensure. A teacher preparation program can be housed in an institute of higher education, but it does not have to be.

Validity: The degree to which inferences made from data are appropriate to the context being examined. A variety of evidence can be used to support interpretation of scores.

Teacher Performance: A teacher’s demonstrated impact on students’ learning as established through student achievement test scores, observed pedagogical practices, or employer or student surveys.

Value-Added Metric: An assessment of teacher performance based on the aggregated academic achievement of the students in the teacher’s classroom.

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