Academic journal article Issues in Teacher Education

Counter-Intuitive Findings from Teacher Education Accreditation Council's Surveys of Candidates and Faculty about Candidate Knowledge and Skill

Academic journal article Issues in Teacher Education

Counter-Intuitive Findings from Teacher Education Accreditation Council's Surveys of Candidates and Faculty about Candidate Knowledge and Skill

Article excerpt

Introduction

In 1996, the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) an- nounced an alternative to the prevailing U.S. practice of accrediting programs by their conformity to consensus standards (see Levine, 2006; Meier, 2000; Murray, 2011a; Ohanion, 1999, 2000 for an analysis of the shortfalls of consensus standards). The TEAC proposal addressed, instead, the program's quality control system and the quality of the evidence that the system yields in terms of the accomplishments of the graduates of the teacher education degree programs (see Dill, Massy, Williams, & Cook, 1996; Ewell, 2008; Graham, Lyman, & Trow, 1995; Trow, 1998 for a discussion of this approach). Contrary to long-standing assertions made by critics (e.g., Aldeman, Carey, Dillon, Miller, & Silva, 2011; Conant, 1963; Crowe, 2010; Judge, Lemosse, Pain, & Sedlak, 1994; Kanstoroom & Finn, 1999; Koerner, 1963; Mitchell & Barth, 1999), TEAC found that program faculties seemed to "actually know what they were doing" and that evidence on which the program faculty rely to support its claim that its graduates are competent was persuasive enough to warrant accredita- tion and public assurance of the program's quality. A complete list of these accredited programs can be found at www.teac.org, but they are, in the main, private liberal arts colleges, flagship research universities, and a few state colleges that were formerly normal schools.

To date, the results from this accrediting work support the following conclusions: Despite beliefs to the contrary, teacher education programs are not "cash cows"; teacher education students are as able in their teaching subjects as arts and sciences majors are in the same subjects; the limited evidence readily available to programs (grades, license scores, ratings by alumni, teachers, and employers) shows uniformly high scores, "widget," or ceiling effects; and the results of clinical and academic evaluations (grades and license scores) are invariably not related to each other, i.e., those high on one may be high, low, or neither on the other (Murray, 2011b; Murray, Raths, & Ramineni, 2006).

Accreditors must be wary of how representative the opinions are of those whom they interview while conducting their on-site verification and corroboration visits. Thus, in 2008, TEAC instituted direct online surveys of students, faculty, and cooperating teachers in regard to ad- equacy of the graduates' knowledge and skill. The surveys are designed to corroborate the evidence that the program submits and provides in its self-study (called the Inquiry Brief) that its graduates are competent in subject matter, pedagogy, teaching skill, multicultural understand- ing, technology, and independent learning. The adequacy of the courses, faculty, facilities, support services, and institutional commitment also are rated (Murray, 2010; 2011b).

This article is a report of the findings from a sample of approximately 2,700 students and 1,000 faculty in the first 50 TEAC-accredited pro- grams for which the online surveys were used. The sample represents nearly all the full-time faculty members surveyed and approximately 30% of the students. On the common questions in the surveys, the find- ings from all the cooperating teachers' surveys are indistinguishable from those of the sample (Murray, 2011b). The student sample also is representative of all those surveyed, as their grade point averages (GPAs) were insignificantly different from the GPAs of those reported by the programs about all of their students (as verified by the TEAC auditors on site (Murray, 2010).

Method

Shortly before the accreditation site-visit, the TEAC surveys are sent by email in the name of the program head to students, faculty, and cooperating teachers. The survey contains a series of questions about the adequacy of the program's graduates' knowledge and skill and the adequacy aspects of the program (e.g., courses, facilities, resources, support services). …

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