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AACTE Endorses CAEP; Testing Companies Win.

September 7, 2013

Once again a major education organization has proclaimed its intention to grade teachers (this time, teachers in training) using student test scores.

Talk about “status quo.”

Allow me to begin this post by addressing this foolish notion. I realize this topic has been written about repeatedly, yet reformers (and those yielding to reformers) insist that grading teachers using student scores must work. One of my first writings on the issue of modern education reform concerns the attempted usage of student test scores for grading teachers. In December 2012, I wrote a critique for Louisiana legislators regarding the 2011 Louisiana pilot study on value added modeling (VAM), or the idea that one can simply plug numeric student attributes into a computer and arrive at an outcome score supposedly indicative of the impact of an “effective” teacher upon a given student. The “prediction rate” is terrible. One simply cannot possibly account for all variables outside of teacher control, measure these variables quantitatively, plug these measures into a formula, and accurately predict a student outcome score for a given teacher in a given class with a specific student.

My surprise that education organizations approve of this practice is magnified by the indisputable truth that students must assume some degree of personal responsibility for their learning.  In short, in order to allow my students the opportunity to mature via the consequences of their own behavior, I must sometimes allow them to experience the impact of a poor grade brought about by their own negligence. If teachers (and teachers in training) are pressured to make students pass, valuable lessons in student personal responsibility are flatly dismissed.

A couple of weeks ago I counseled a teacher who after 24 years in the classroom was rated “ineffective” via Louisiana VAM.  We discussed the state’s student outcome scoring expectations for a number of her students. After viewing the details of her VAM, I realized that it complemented the results of the Louisiana pilot on VAM– that outcomes are arguably random and had next to nothing to do with teacher control. In fact, her helping certain students actually worked against her. For example, she helped one student manage his behavior better this past school year. Had she not done so, VAM would have “handicapped” this student’s score for behavior infractions, and his predicted VAM score would have been lower. However, since the student improved in his behavior, his test score “only” rose 31 points from one year to the next (a remarkable feat) instead of the “predicted” 37 points. As a result, the teacher received a hefty penalty for this student’s standardized test score.

I told her I would be happy to testify in court on her behalf.

So now, we have the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) applauding the newly-created Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) for teacher preparation “standards” that include measuring teachers-in-training using student test scores. I was not surprised at the CAEP recommendation given its board of directors, including presidents of NEA and AFT, both of whom have taken millions from Bill Gates, and Eli Broad-trained, Jeb-Bush-led  Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist, who also participated in the self-labeled National Council on Teacher Quality’s (NCTQ) latest effort to “grade” teacher training programs.

(Sadly, both AFT and NEA have publicly cried “moratorium” on Common Core assessment, yet both are promoting using student test scores to grade teachers in training through these CAEP “standards.”  Different day, different hat.)

I was even less surprised at the CAEP “standards” recommendation given the members of the CAEP task force, including representation by the Fordham Institute, Teach for America (TFA), New Schools Venture Fund, Harvard Graduate School of Education, National Association of State Boards of Education, and AFT and NEA.

Don’t miss this timeline. It bespeaks that reformer “urgency” to move quickly above all else:

June 18, 2013: AACTE blasts the release of the NCTQ teacher prep ratings, including referring to NCTQ’s report as “a public relations campaign.”

July 1, 2013: CAEP Inaugural Board of Directors named.

August 29, 2013 (Friday of Labor Day weekend): CAEP Inaugural Board convenes for the first time and that same day adopts the CAEP standards. (CAEP is not quite two months old.)

September 3, 2013 (First day following Labor Day weekend): AACTE applauds and endorses the CAEP teacher prep standards.

Looks like AACTE is running its own version of shallow “public relations” in order to play to the middle of corporate reform.

Once again we have the reformer-trademarked “status quo”– the rush to implement that which is not yet finished and for which outcomes have not previously been piloted and thoroughly examined prior to implementation. Here is CAEP’s spin on their rush to implement:

Strong Accountability Tied to New Data Systems, Assessments

The development of longitudinal data systems and of a new generation of performance assessments will dramatically improve the quantity and quality of evidence of student and teacher performance, allowing programs to study the impact of graduates on student outcomes within the accreditation process. New, more robust assessments, such as the TPA (Teacher Performance Assessment) being pilot tested in more than 25 states, and tools such as observational protocols and student feedback, will help identify effective teaching practices. Information from these assessments will inform preparation programs and will provide new data points previously unavailable. [Emphasis added.]

Translation: “We have no idea of a complete set of variables established for measuring “effective” preservice teachers, but we just know that these exist, and we’re sure we will find them. Forget the fact that our cart blocks our horse. Furthermore, we are even willing to be advised on the matter by execs from organizations such as TFA, whose “teachers” undergo neither formal teacher training nor remain in the classroom long enough to experience the consequences of a career-damaging, shoddy evaluation.”

At first, I could not figure out why AACTE endorsed CAEP’s now-usual “grade teachers using test scores” recommendation. Then I realized AACTE has been fine with the idea of merging its “preservice assessment process,” edTPA, with the upcoming CAEP standards. Consider this information from the AACTE website regarding its already questionable edTPA assessment:

edTPA is aligned with the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) standards, and various professional standards, depending on the subject area, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Specialized Professional Association (SPA) standards.

edTPA also aligns with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards. This means that the goals and tasks of edTPA and the expectations in the NCATE standards are comparable. Institutions using edTPA to provide evidence of candidate performance can be assured that some aspects of the performance assessment provide the type of evidence that NCATE seeks in determining whether or not a unit’s teacher candidates have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are outlined in its standards.

Note that NCATE and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) are in the process of merging their operations to form a unified accrediting body, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The alignment of edTPA and the new CAEP standards and processes will be determined after the new standards are released in late 2013.  [Emphasis added].

Here AACTE acknowledges that edTPA was not completely “in line” with the push to grade preservice teachers using student test scores; however, in couched terms, AACTE hints that their overt endorsement of the practice is on the horizon.

For AACTE, the horizon arrived September 3, 2013.

What AACTE’s previously-endorsed edTPA and the new CAEP standards have in common is Stanford University and Pearson:

Stanford University is the author and exclusive owner of edTPA and responsible for ongoing development of the assessment, and implementation support resources for participating states and institutions of higher education. Stanford University is also responsible for the design and development of the online scoring training, including selecting and coding subject-specific benchmarks and other training materials.


Demand for edTPA grew so rapidly that support was needed to deliver it to campuses and states that asked for it. So through a procurement procedure, Stanford chose Pearson because Pearson has the capacity, experience, and infrastructure to offer edTPA at scale quickly, so that students don’t have to wait to see the benefits in the classroom. As an operational partner, Pearson will deliver the assessment materials, online technology, program resources, and other support to teacher candidates that’s required for multi-state use of edTPA program.

A few words on Pearson’s “experience”:


Millions in fines.

Stanford wants to grade teachers in training using both whole-class and individualized student assessment.

It should come as no surprise that three assessment companies have underwritten this CAEP effort, Pearson among them:

Support in helping to underwrite the costs of the Commission is provided by Tk20, Inc., Pearson, and Educational Testing Service (ETS). Tk20, Inc. and ETS are providing support for Commission meetings, and Pearson is providing support for outreach.

Both ETS and Pearson “consult” on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two primary consortia holding the fate of American public education in their corporate-bent hands via their “developing” high-stakes CCSS assessments.

Both are also involved with Smarter Balanced, the other consortium.

TK20 is also able to cash in on PARCC and Smarter Balanced on the local level.

There you have it.  All is to be aligned with that which benefits the testing companies.

Why didn’t AACTE just say so?

  1. jean sanders permalink

    Michael Maher of North Carolina cautions: “We are just now turning our graduates from …redesigned programs and the early results look promising and yet many of us are now looking to adapt our programs to meet the proposed CAEP standards and implementation of the edTPA.

    We need to be careful of reforming just for the sake of reform. Evidence and best practice matter, content and pedagogy matter, and yes diversity and social justice matter too. We seem to get beat up regardless of the route we take, offer too little content and the claims are that your graduates are too weak academically. Offer the wrong “kind” or too much pedagogical practice and you’re not preparing candidates for the realities of the classroom. Lack a diverse population so you require diversity and/or social justice courses and now you’re too focused on social justice. Teaching is complex, difficult work and preparing teachers is extremely challenging. The challenge is only exacerbated when we think about the number of different contexts teachers work within (e.g. rural, urban, suburban schools, high and low poverty schools, magnet/theme schools).
    he is right; now matter what your program looks like or how much research and evidence you have substantiated the next group of “fad” politicians will come and take a whack at you to serve their political purposes. How do we separate fad from fraud? For 50 years we have had reform and based on research evidence; but the politicians want to hear not of it because it doesn’t fit a particular ideology. Right now the arrogance says “teachers are inferior beings” and people at Fordham like Petrili say “teachers screw up everything” and Peterson says “schumpeter’s chaos and destruction” is the way to go…. sounds like shock and awe but it is being used on teachers in the U.S. by some very arrogant people and know nothing politicians. They started this rhetoric under Bush with “blow up the teachers colleges” and “union members are terrorists”; it has gone this far because there is a lot of funding behind it such as the plutocrats Gates etc….. I for one am sick of it and how students are being treated up and down the east coast with “you have failed” so the politician can make a career for himself or get rich quick.

  2. Mercedes…..I adore your blog and read every delicious word….thank you. I am a New Mexican (we just recently replaced Mississippi as the poorest state in the country) and our state is now undergoing teacher evaluation partially based on test scores. I am privileged to teach at a high poverty elementary school that has for the past two years been awarded a grade of “F” from our Public Education Department. Since I am not a classroom teacher of a “testable” grade, but instead am a math interventionist that has the profound pleasure of working with small groups of students from every grade, half of my evaluation will be my school grade of “F”. I am pretty sure that mathematically, the only possible rating I can get will be “ineffective”. I have also come to the conclusion that very few things can be graded with an A-F system….that would be eggs, meat,bras and shoe widths. When you get to things that have more factors than the above items, (like schools, teachers, and content areas) it gets real muddy.
    Thanks again for your thoughtful work.

  3. The link above labeled “CAEP’s spin” is getting denied. Can you help me out with the original source?

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