Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Data-Driven Assessment of Teacher Candidates during Their Internships in Deaf Education

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Data-Driven Assessment of Teacher Candidates during Their Internships in Deaf Education

Article excerpt

DEAF EDUCATION TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAMS have received criticism for graduating students with gaps in knowledge and skills required for specific placements. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) requires that accredited programs engage in self-study, and NCATE guidelines require programs to collect valid, reliable evidence of teacher candidate performance and candidates' effect on student learning. In the present study, an ecobehavioral assessment computer program, MS-CISSAR (Mainstream Code for Instructional Structure and Student Academic Response), was used in evaluations of 8 teacher candidates during internship experiences. Results were mixed. Some of the instructional arrangements, teaching behaviors, and student responses resembled those found in studies using in-service teachers as subjects; however, some data revealed a need for changes in instruction. Data gathered with MS-CISSAR could be added to evaluations to help training programs meet NCATE requirements for evidence on teacher candidate performance and candidates' effect on student learning.

Ensuring that quality teachers are present in every classroom is a top priority on the education policy agenda (Darling-Hammond & Youngs, 2002; U.S. Department of Education, 2002) and in the education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing (Joint Standards Committee, 1996). Qualified teachers have a significant impact both in the classroom and in university teacher preparation programs. Darling-Hammond (2000) found that the quality of teacher preparation is a stronger correlate of student achievement than class size, district spending, or teacher salaries. Teacher preparation can account for 40% to 60% of the total variance in student achievement, after student demographics are accounted for.

Perhaps because of its importance, teacher preparation is at the heart of a heated national debate. As the discussion continues, it is clear there are sharp differences in reform efforts. Many professionals and policymakers believe that teachers should know the content of the courses they teach and demonstrate the ability to teach effectively (Wise & Liebbrnnd, 2000). Others, including the U.S. secretary of education, suggest that the field investigate the dismantling of the current teacher education system and redefine the qualifications people need to teach (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Today's teacher educators face a hot policy debate that has already resulted in significant changes in state accreditation and licensing policies (Wise, 1996; Wise & Liebbrand, 2000). Those changes and the ones to come will profoundly affect teacher candidates in regular and deaf education.

In the meantime, teacher candidates in deaf education straddle two millennia. Unfortunately, 20th-century teaching strategies may not adequately serve 21st-century students (Ambach, 1996). Despite their graduation from accredited deaf education teacher-training programs, many new teachers arrive at the classroom door underprepared to teach the deaf children in their charge. Like teacher preparation programs in general (U.S. Department of Education, 2002), deaf education teacher preparation programs have been the subject of recent criticism (Easterbrooks, 1999; Luckner & Howell, 2002; Marlatt, 2001; Miller, 2000; Pagliaro, 1998b).

In the present article, we (a) describe the accreditation challenges faced by the deaf education teacher training program at the University of North Florida and our response to the need for quantitative evidence of teacher candidate effects on student learning, and (b) report on a research study designed to investigate the use of an ecobehavioral assessment tool to demonstrate the effects of teacher candidate instruction on target students.

Teacher Preparation in the Education of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Although some first-year teachers report satisfaction with the preparation they received in deaf education (Rittenhouse & Kenyon-Rittenhouse, 1997), our collective teacher preparation programs have produced some teachers who could benefit from additional instruction or experience (or both). …

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