Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Surveys of Teacher Education Graduates and Their Principals: The Value of the Data for Program Improvement

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Surveys of Teacher Education Graduates and Their Principals: The Value of the Data for Program Improvement

Article excerpt

The United States' Department of Education (USDOE) plan for teacher education reform and improvement is described in the publication Our Future, Our Teachers (2011). One of the three broad areas of reform involves institutional reporting and the type of data collected as part of the Higher Education Act Title II regulations. The USDOE seeks to replace "input reporting" with "output reporting" in the form of academic growth by students taught by teacher credential program graduates, retention in teaching of program graduates, and "building on the lessons of the California State University (CSU) teacher credential feedback system, ... states would be asked to survey recent program graduates and their principals" (p. 10). The USDOE believes surveys will inform improvement efforts as well as give a picture of overall program quality, ultimately leading to a ranking of all programs within a state. This study focuses specifically on the third of these outputs, the value of surveys of graduates and their principals as a measure of teacher education program quality. If teacher education is to be judged by these survey outputs, the field must be certain what they do or do not reflect or measure. If surveys are to inform improvement efforts, they must be able to reflect program changes or improvements.

This study focuses on use of data from questionnaires of graduates of a teacher credential program and their supervising principals to analyze specific program efforts to improve the preparation of teacher candidates. The questionnaire used is the exact survey cited by the USDOE in Our Future, Our Teachers. In that document it is clearly stated that states are to be required to set "rigorous standards for identifying top tier and low performing teacher preparation programs in their state based on information that includes ... customer satisfaction surveys" (USDOE, 2011, p. 16). This ranking will be used to award funding to programs and scholarships to teacher candidates, thus tying significant resources to these surveys, making them crucial, even independent of program evaluation. Specifically, this study attempts to discern if specific program changes and improvement efforts are reflected in altered ratings by both program graduates and their supervising principal. This is not a study of the efficacy of the program changes but rather a study of the sensitivity and ability of such survey data to reflect program changes. This study builds on a number of studies using this same survey instrument within the CSU system.

Program Assessment Survey Data

Survey data is considered an important source of information for program assessment (Blanton, Sindelar, & Correa, 2006; Cochran-Smith, 2009; Darling-Hammond, 2006). While comparison to standards is an essential component of a comprehensive system to evaluate teacher preparation programs, no such system is complete without feedback from the system participants. The relationship between teacher credential programs, K-12 education systems, and graduates' and employers' perceptions of the teachers' experience are viewed as essential (Greenberg, Pomerance, & Walsh, 2011).

The ability and motivation of supervisors, who in the case of teachers are principals, to provide systematic, objective appraisal has not been widely studied though the practice is virtually universal and considered essential (Roch, McNall, & Caputo, 2011). In a typical teacher evaluation system, the principal conducts classroom observations with a certain framework in mind, generally an observation rubric focused on selected standards. It is logical to assume that the principal is in a position to assess the teachers' preparation for classroom practice.

Teacher Preparation Assessment in the CSU

Since 1999 the CSU System has conducted a survey of credentialed graduates and of the graduates' employment supervisors at the end of their first year of professional teaching. …

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