Academic journal article Issues in Teacher Education

edTPA You Have to Attack This like a Lion Hunting a Gazelle on the Serengeti: Student Perspectives on the Implementation of a New Initiative

Academic journal article Issues in Teacher Education

edTPA You Have to Attack This like a Lion Hunting a Gazelle on the Serengeti: Student Perspectives on the Implementation of a New Initiative

Article excerpt

Educational Reform

Across the United States educational reform has undergone a tremendous metamorphosis since the 1960s. Producing a heightened sense of awareness within the public sector, this transformation has drawn attention to the quality of the curriculum, the teachers' mastery of their subject matter, and their knowledge of related pedagogy. Consequently, today's public school teachers are no longer considered effective based solely on their classroom management strategies and grade-level report cards; rather, their efficacy is ultimately measured by the scores their students earn on standardized tests.

Milestones, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the inception of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1964, No Child LeftBehind Act (NCLB) of 2001, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004, and the current administration's reform Race to the Top of 2009 have all been instrumental in altering the landscape of American education. Throughout the past 40 years, the passage of these mandates in conjunction with other key pieces of legislation created a salient force influencing the reengineering of America's public education system. Embedded in this legislation are specific mandates that have influenced the way students are educated, thus impacting their overall academic development and success.

Teacher Preparation

With the rise of educational standards and the diversity found in today's classrooms the need for well-prepared teachers exiting their preparation programs is imperative. It is well established in the literature that teachers play a critical role in determining the success or failure of any school initiative (Mumford, 2003). Alan and Cheung (2012) stated in spite of the different roles played by each stakeholder in the curriculum reform, the perceptions of school principals, curriculum leaders, and teachers were very similar with regards to the factors that facilitated and hindered successful implementation of school initiatives. Furthermore, there is a plethora of research which demonstrates that students taught by effective teachers outperform their peers who are taught by less effective teachers (Kane & Staiger, 2008; Mendro, Jordan, Gomeez, Anderson, & Bembry, 1998; Mumford, 2003; Sanders & Horn, 1998; Stronge & Hindman, 2002).

Students enrolled in PreK-12 classrooms exhibit a myriad of traits, including learners with special needs, new English language learners (ELLs), as well as those from various socioeconomic groups. Teacher candidates graduating from the nation's preparation programs must be equipped and qualified to teach this diverse population. The expectation is for new teachers to have a strong foundation in content, pedagogy, classroom management, and assessing data to inform instructional decision making (Darling-Hammond, 2010).

With teachers being held accountable for student learning outcomes, teacher preparation programs have been encouraged to completely rethink the preparation of their teacher candidates (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2010; Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity, 2013). Based on the Blue Ribbon Panel report, produced by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) in 2010, it is time for teacher training programs to shifttheir focus of instruction from academic preparation and coursework that has been loosely linked to school-based experiences and begin grounding their programs in clinical practice that is interwoven with academic content and professional courses (NCATE, 2010).

As teacher training programs continue to examine recruiting and preparing teacher candidates to fill the nation's K-12 classrooms, they have begun to look for measures that will reflect candidates who are both highly qualified and highly effective to meet the needs of today's diverse learners. Recognizing that multiple measures of assessment are needed to ensure teacher candidates have mastered the competencies needed to enter the classroom, various evaluation tools have been examined to determine which ones will predict the mastery of the needed skill set. …

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