Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Volume 36, Issue 4, pages 353 – 368.(November 2010)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article analyses efforts at one institution to respond to demands for higher education accountability through the development and implementation of an institution-specific, programme-level model of assessment and accountability.
The authors discuss the larger debate about higher education accountability in the USA, including critique of the federally-recommended use of standardised assessments for accountability purposes and consideration of accountability issues in initial teacher education specifically.
Based on this critique, the authors propose a model with four key elements.
An institution-specific, programme-level accountability model for initial teacher education
The four components of the Boston College (BC) accountability model for initial teacher education are:
(1) a conceptual framework in which to locate a complementary portfolio of multiple studies that assess relevant processes and outcomes;
(2) the involvement of faculty and relevant stakeholders in order to change the culture of decision making and interpretation;
(3) measurements and assessments that reflect the missions, goals, and values of the programme and the institution; and
(4) the integration of the results of various measures and assessments into a comprehensive data system linked to other databases.
The authors show how these four elements formed the basis of the accountability system employed at the Boston College Lynch School of Education to support claims made by the institution, demonstrate student learning, and inform programmatic changes.
This paper has described and illustrated with key examples a locally-developed programme-specific initial teacher education accountability model.
The principles underlying this model emphasise multiple measures and assessments that are conceptually linked by an over-arching framework that is consistent with the values, mission, and goals of faculty, administrators, and other stakeholders and also empirically linked by a robust data management system.
The authors conclude with four main points.
First, it is important to reiterate that the faculty and administration assumed the task of measuring what is locally valued by developing and implementing a variety of process and outcomes measures.
Second, the database management system has evolved, and continues to evolve. It provides an unprecedented opportunity for programme faculty and graduate students to assess the experiences and learning of teacher candidates from the day they enter the programme to three years after graduation.
Third, although many of the assessments and instruments the authors describe here were locally developed, they are applicable to teacher education programmes outside of Boston College Lynch School of Education (LSOE).
Finally, the authors want to suggest that the programme-specific accountability model with the four components they have elaborated on in this article is potentially applicable to any higher education institution or programme seeking to respond to internal and external accountability demands. In particular, from a policy perspective, their work suggests that it is possible to design and implement a powerful accountability system, based on local measures, that meets the demands of external evaluators and auditors, while remaining flexible enough to address an institution's unique programmatic objectives.