Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Volume 36, Issue 4, pages 369 – 388.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this article, the authors describe a set of research and assessment strategies used to evaluate program outcomes in the Stanford Teacher Education Programme (STEP) during a period of program redesign over the course of a decade, along with some of the findings from this research.
STEP has historically been a 12-month postgraduate program in secondary education offering a masters degree and a California teaching credential.
The program's conceptual framework is grounded in a view of teachers as reflective practitioners and strategic decision makers who understand the processes of learning and development, including language acquisition and development, and who can use a wide repertoire of teaching strategies to enable diverse learners to master challenging content.
A strong social justice orientation based on both commitment and skills for teaching diverse learners undergirds all aspects of the program.
Data include surveys and interviews of student perceptions of program elements and their own preparedness, observations of their practice during and after teacher education, evaluations of their practice on a structured portfolio of practice (the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT), and analyses of the effects of a sample of graduates of STEP and other programs on student outcomes.
Although there is strong press for the use of measures of teacher effectiveness as measured by student achievement gains, these are unlikely to help teacher educators improve programs without a rich array of other tools that reveal how specific experiences support candidates in developing useful practices, and what areas of practice need more attention.
Furthermore, there will be continuing concerns about the narrowness of the learning measured by standardized tests, and about the many challenges of collecting and analyzing such data in ways that overcome the many technical and practical problems associated with their use.
Thus, educators will need to develop many ways of looking at the impacts of teacher education on candidates' knowledge, skills, practices, and contributions to pupil learning. Using multiple measures and examining the relationships among them may help teacher educators develop a knowledge base for the continuous improvement of their own practice and may ultimately save the enterprise of teacher education as a whole.