Nov. 21, 2014

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Frustrated teacher educators plan response to SED data release

uupdate 11-21-14

SUNY’s teacher preparation faculty said they felt betrayed by the State Education Department’s decision to release college-specific data on teacher certification exams, as dozens of faculty gathered at SUNY Geneseo Nov. 21 to discuss strategies for dealing with the state’s new teacher certification exams.

UUP had submitted a July 30 Freedom of Information request to SED for pass rate data on the new exams. In releasing the information, SED Commissioner John B. King Jr. said that SED was obligated to make the test data public as part of complying with UUP’s FOIL request – an assertion that UUP immediately refuted.

“We never thought in a million years they would do what they did,” UUP’s statewide Vice President for Academics Jamie Dangler, above, told dozens of faculty, administrators from SUNY schools of education and education major students at a meeting of the UUP Statewide Teacher Preparation Task Force. “It’s very destructive. I see it as a deliberate union-bashing measure.”

Dangler told the gathering that UUP will begin an aggressive campaign to enlist the help of state lawmakers in reforming the certification process. Teacher educators are frustrated and disgruntled by SED’s efforts to quash constructive input by practitioners at meetings of the statewide edTPA task force—created by the New York State Board of Regents.

“The legislators will not act unless they hear from large numbers of their constituents,” Dangler told the group.

Faculty and students offered ideas about how the edTPA might be changed.

“I don’t think edTPA should be within the student teaching experience; I think it should be after,” said Nikki Allen, a high school teacher in Dansville who has overseen student teachers.

“I just felt it created a very inauthentic teaching experience,” said Elizabeth White, a Geneseo graduate student who passed the edTPA assessment of her classroom teaching skills but remains critical of the process. “I think the hardest thing about edTPA is that for many of us, this is our first real experience in the classroom.”

Around the SED’s inappropriate release of the test data, Dangler reminded the group that an even more serious problem looms. The state can require teacher preparation programs with less than an 80 percent pass rate on certification exams to undergo corrective action. Many teacher ed programs at public and private colleges and universities whose data was released by SED reflect pass rates below 80 percent.

“Because the new package of certification exams is not proven valid indicators of students’ ability, an unprecedented number of students will be unfairly denied initial teaching certification,” said Dangler.

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