Yesterday, it looked like the two national teachers' unions might not support a drive to require value-added measures, among other ways of looking at student learning growth, in the accreditation standards for teacher preparation being finalized this week.
The Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation tapped a panel to put the new expectations together last year. A draft version had many controversial elements, such as a minimum bar for entry and a focus on student-achievement growth.
What a difference a night (full of lots of stiff drinks, one suspects) makes: The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and new draft language on the use of VAM, apparently brokered during the wee morning hours, has been signed off by panelists—including the unions.
The final language, by my read, maintains the expectation that programs incoporate data if states provide it. But decide for yourself. It reads:
"The provider documents that program completers contribute to an expected level of student-learning growth. Multiple measures shall include all available growth measures (including value-added measures, student-growth percentiles, and student learning objectives) required by the state for its teachers and available education preparation programs, other state-supported P-12 impact measures, and any other measures employed by the provider."
The agreement marks quite a shift in accreditation practices.
As Richard De Lisi, the dean of the graduate school of education at Rutgers University, in New Jersey, summed up: "It is a remarkable thing to say that a professional program is going to trace its graduates into the field. I don't think any other field does this to its graduates. It's absolutely pathbreaking."
Here's what the teachers' unions' representatives had to say about the new language.
"I think this absolutely strengthens this [standard] and gets at the issues I raised yesterday," said Becky Pringle, the National Education Association's panelist. "It moves us forward, and it captures the commission's mission and vision of taking ownership of the profession, student learning, and growth throughout the process."
Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, said: "We embrace the new language, and I just want to say thank you for the back and forth and the listening. It's very important. This is the practitioners actually trying to figure out a way to have accountability, share responsibility for our profession. ... It creates a much stronger platform." (Whereupon she swept out of the room and relinquished her seat to a delegate, this matter apparently being the AFT's major concern.)
The agreement seems to pave the way forward to reaching an agreement on the overall set of standards, too.
"With this behind us, I think we can do it," said Camilla Benbow, the dean of Vanderbilt University's education school and the co-chair of the panel.
UPDATED, 1:30 p.m.: And indeed they did. The full panel just approved the new CAEP standards. (They still have to be approved by the accreditor's board this summer.) Education Week will have more analysis on this big development in teacher preparation in the days to come.