Quality Principles for Teacher Education Programs

1.0 Quality Principle I: Evidence of Student Learning

1.1 Subject matter knowledge

Candidates for the degree must learn and understand the subject matters they hope to teach. TEAC requires evidence that the program’s candidates acquire and understand these subject matters.

1.2 Pedagogical knowledge

The primary obligation of the teacher is representing the subject matter in ways that his or her students can readily learn and understand. TEAC requires evidence that the candidates for the program’s degree learn how to convert their knowledge of a subject matter into compelling lessons that meet the needs of a wide range of students.

1.3 Caring teaching skill

Above all, teachers are expected to act on their knowledge in a caring and professional manner that would lead to appropriate levels of achievement for all their pupils.

Caring is a particular kind of relationship between the teacher and the student that is defined by the teacher’s unconditional acceptance of the student, the teacher’s intention to address the student’s educational needs, the teacher’s competence to meet those needs, and the student’s recognition that the teacher cares.

Although it recognizes that the available measures of caring are not as well developed as the measures of student learning, TEAC requires evidence that the program’s graduates are caring.

Cross-cutting themes

TEAC calls special attention to the liberal arts and general education dimensions of the teacher education curriculum. Because these dimensions cut across and are essential parts of each component of Quality Principle I, the program faculty must also address and provide evidence about them, as they would for any other aspects of their case for their graduates’ subject matter knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and caring teaching skill.

The skills and content of a liberal arts education (e.g., technology, learning how to learn, multicultural perspectives) are essential parts of the teacher’s subject matter knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and teaching skill. Graduates who understand their teaching subject also know and understand the technological dimensions of their subject; the qualifications that limit generalization owing to different cultural perspectives; how to fill in the gaps in their knowledge and apply what they have learned in college to new situations; and how their subject matter fits with the rest of knowledge, its purpose, value, and limitations.

Teachers are expected to be well-informed persons even though they may never directly teach much of the information they acquire. TEAC requires evidence that the candidates know and understand subject matters that they may never be called upon to teach, but which are still associated with and expected of educated persons and professional educators in particular.

These include the oral and written rhetorical skills, critical thinking, and the qualitative and quantitative reasoning skills that are embedded in subject matter, pedagogy, and teaching performance. They also include knowledge of other perspectives and cultures and some of the modern technological tools of scholarship.

Learning how to learn

The liberal arts include a set of intellectual skills, tools, and ideas that enable students to learn on their own. In particular, the program faculty must teach the candidates how to address those parts of their disciplines that could not be taught in the program, but which, as teachers, the candidates will nevertheless be expected to know and use at some later time.

For example, the whole of the subject matter and pedagogy cannot be covered in the teacher education curriculum. Moreover, some of what is covered may not be true or useful later, and some of what will be needed later would not have been known at the time of the degree program.

TEAC requires evidence that the candidates learn how to learn important information on their own, that they can transfer what they have learned to new contexts, and that they acquire the dispositions and skills that will support lifelong learning in their fields.

Multicultural perspectives and understanding

Included in the liberal arts is the knowledge of other cultural perspectives, practices, and traditions. TEAC requires evidence that candidates for the degree understand the implications of confirmed scholarship on gender, race, individual differences, social class, and ethnic and cultural perspectives for educational practice.

Technology

Increasingly, the tools of a liberal arts education include technology. Programs should give special attention to assuring that the technologies that enhance the teacher’s work and the pupil’s learning are firmly integrated into their teacher education curriculum. TEAC requires evidence that the program’s graduates acquire the basic productivity tools of the profession.

Comment on cross-cutting themes

Teachers can be said to have acquired teaching skill at the level TEAC envisions (1) if they employ the teaching technologies that are available because they understand them; (2) if they reach all the pupils in their class through their knowledge of individual and cultural differences; and (3) if they continue to develop professionally because they understand how to learn on their own and how to apply what they have learned to novel situations in their classrooms.

They can be said to have acquired teaching skill at a sufficient level if they have ways to distinguish the essential content from the peripheral, ethical teaching practices from the unethical ones, knowledge from opinion, obligations from academic freedom, and the unique responsibilities of teaching in a democratic society from teaching in a non-democratic one.

2.0 Quality Principle II: Valid Assessment of Student Learning

TEAC expects program faculty to provide (1) a rationale justifying its claims that the assessment techniques it uses are reasonable and credible, and (2) evidence documenting the reliability and validity of the assessments.

Rationale

TEAC requires the program faculty to provide this rationale because the reliability and validity of nearly all the currently available methods for assessing students’ caring and learning are fl awed and compromised in one way or another.

Because no single measure can be trusted to accurately reveal student learning, the program faculty will also need to employ multiple measures and assessment methods to achieve a dependable finding about what the candidates have learned.

However the program faculty members assess what their students have learned from the teacher education program, TEAC requires the program to provide evidence that the inferences made from the assessment system meet the appropriate and accepted research standards for reliability and validity.

This requirement means that the faculty will need to (1) address and rule out competing and rival inferences for the evidence of student learning; and (2) establish a point at which the evidence for their inference is sufficient, clear and consistent, and below which the evidence for their inference is insufficient, flawed, or inconsistent.

Evidence of validity

Because the evidence currently available to support claims of student learning is largely suggestive and not particularly compelling, to satisfy TEAC’s Quality Principle II, the program faculty needs to have an ongoing investigation of the means by which it provides evidence for each component of Quality Principle I.

The program faculty’s investigation must focus on two aspects of its assessment of student learning: (1) the links with the program’s design, the program’s understanding of the educational significance of goal, and the faculty’s claims made in support of the program goal; and (2) the elimination of confounding factors associated with the evidence from which the faculty draws the inferences.

2.1 Rationale for the links

TEAC requires that the faculty members have a rationale for their assessments that makes reasonable and credible the links between the assessments and (1) the program goal, (2) the program faculty’s claims about student learning, and (3) the program’s features.

For example, the faculty members who claim that their program prepares reflective practitioners would need to make a case that their ways of assessing reflective practice are reasonable and logical. They would need to show how their assessments are related conceptually to teacher competence and to some program requirements, and that the inferences they hope to make from their assessments could be expected to be valid.

2.2 Evidence of validity

To satisfy Quality Principle II, the faculty must satisfy itself and TEAC that its rationale and the inferences from its assessments are also credible empirically. TEAC requires empirical evidence about the trustworthiness, reliability, and validity of the assessment method, or methods, the faculty employs.

To continue the example above, before the faculty members could conclude that their graduates are reflective practitioners, they would also need a way to be sure that they had ruled out some plausible alternative inferences based on the evidence from their assessments: for example, the inference that their graduates were simply following some template or formula; had guessed; had memorized or parroted their reflective responses; had copied their reflections from some source; or had fabricated the evidence of reflection.

3.0 Quality Principle III: Institutional Learning

TEAC expects that a faculty’s decisions about its programs are based on evidence, and that the program has a quality control system that (1) yields reliable evidence about the program’s practices and results and (2) influences policies and decision making.

Quality Principle III addresses the ongoing research and inquiry needed to meet the other two quality principles. TEAC’s Quality Principle III presupposes a system of faculty inquiry, review, and quality control is in place: the faculty has a means to secure the evidence and informed opinion it needs to initiate or improve program quality.

Quality Principle III also encourages the program faculty to become skilled at creating knowledge for the improvement of teaching and learning and to modify the program and practices to reflect this new knowledge.

TEAC expects that the faculty will systematically and continuously improve the quality of its professional education programs and provide evidence about the following two issues in the faculty’s ongoing processes of inquiry and program improvement.

3.1 Program decisions and planning based on evidence

From time to time, a program faculty will decide to modify its curricula, assessment systems, pedagogical approaches, faculty composition, and so forth. TEAC requires evidence that the information derived from faculty’s research and inquiry into Quality Principle I and Quality Principle II has a role in improving the program, and will continue to have such a role in the future.

The program faculty’s research into Quality Principles I and II entails, for example, the investigation of any local factors that are associated with, and implicated in, student learning and its assessment.

To satisfy Quality Principle III, the program faculty must be committed to consistently improving its capacity to offer quality professional education programs. Wherever possible, the program faculty should base the steps it takes to improve the program on evidence derived from its inquiry into the effects various factors have on the assessment of student learning.

3.2 Influential quality control system

The faculty must have a quality control system in place to examine and evaluate the components of the program’s capacity for quality, including, its curriculum, students, faculty expertise, program and course requirements, and facilities.

TEAC requires evidence, based on an internal audit conducted by the program’s faculty, that the quality control system functions as it was designed, that it promotes the program’s continual improvement, and that it yields evidence that supports Quality Principles I and II.

Many factors may affect the quality of a program and influence the assessments of the academic accomplishments of the program’s students. TEAC requires that the faculty undertake ongoing inquiry and research into the likely factors associated with the students’ accomplishments.

TEAC expects that, over time, this inquiry will lead to a better understanding of the local factors and components of program quality that are important and would justify their continued nurture and investment.

This inquiry and the efforts to control quality should also lead to an awareness of some factors that can be treated with indifference because they have only marginal effects on program quality.

Although any number of factors and components of the program may affect program quality, TEAC requires the program faculty to address directly seven factors (4.1–4.7), each of which seems to have a plausible association with student learning and program quality.

TEAC’s seven standards for capacity are based upon the U.S. Department of Education’s requirement that any accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary as a reliable gatekeeper for federal funding have standards for seven dimensions of program capacity: curriculum, faculty, resources, facilities, accurate publications, student support services, and student feedback.

Although TEAC encourages programs to investigate and provide evidence of other local factors that affect capacity for quality, TEAC requires programs to provide plans to investigate, over time, and through their quality control systems, plausible links between student learning and the seven federal components of program quality.

Ultimately, the evidence for an adequate quality control system comes from the program faculty’s ongoing investigation of any plausible links between capacity and student learning. In other words, the program faculty’s quality control system should have agents that continually investigate and ask, What about each component could be expected to facilitate student accomplishment and learning, and what evidence can we rely on to support and justify that expectation?