Dec 13, 2004
At the request of the Rockefeller Foundation, RAND and MRDC are jointly conducting a national evaluation of Teachers for a New Era, an ambitious attempt to reform teacher education. A new report examines first-year implementation of the initiative in the initial four program sites, one of which is the Bank Street College of Education. This research brief focuses on first-year implementation and underscores the role of a supportive state policy environment in advancing the goals of this reform.
In summer 2001, the Carnegie Corporation of New York launched an ambitious initiative, Teachers for a New Era (TNE), to fundamentally reform teacher preparation in the United States. The foundation was persuaded to do so by a growing body of evidence showing that teachers have discernible, differential effects on student achievement and that those effects appear to persist across years. The aim of this initiative is to stimulate development of excellent teacher education programs that are guided by a respect for evidence, are based on close collaboration between education and arts and sciences faculty, and provide strong clinical training and support. These principles have been espoused by other reform efforts, but TNE differs from those past efforts in two important ways: (1) It explicitly requires that teacher education programs base continuous improvement efforts on evidence of the "value added" that their teaching graduates bring to the classroom in terms of gains in student achievement, and (2) it requires that both teacher education and arts and sciences faculty members provide support to their new education graduates during a two-year "induction period."
Four institutions—Bank Street College of Education in New York City; California State University, Northridge; Michigan State University; and the University of Virginia—were selected in summer 2002 as the first TNE sites. Those schools are each receiving $5 million over a period of five years and technical assistance to reform their teacher education programs to align with TNE principles.
The Rockefeller Foundation retained the RAND Corporation and Manpower Research Demonstration Corporation (MRDC) to jointly conduct a national evaluation of the TNE initiative as it is being implemented by the first four grantees. A new RAND report, Reforming Teacher Education: A First Year Progress Report on Teachers for a New Era, offers a look at first-year implementation of the initiative. This research brief focuses on first-year implementation of TNE at Bank Street College of Education and discusses the implications of the state policy environment for TNE. (Information on obtaining other RAND publications on this initiative appears below.)
New York State employs more than 225,000 public school teachers and issues more than 25,000 teaching certificates each year. The Bank Street College of Education produces about 250 graduates a year.
The college is composed of three divisions: Children's Programs, which runs the School for Children, an on-site demonstration school for children ages 3 to 13, and the on-site Family Center for infants and toddlers; the Division of Continuing Education, which provides outreach and professional development to schools, districts, and other educational agencies; and the Graduate School, which prepares post-baccalaureate students to serve as teachers, administrators, or other education professionals. The Graduate School offers M.S. and M.S.Ed. degrees and initial New York State teaching certification through various programs that can be completed in as little as 12 to 15 months, and most students complete a program within two years.
During the first year of TNE, Bank Street began planning and implementing its TNE vision. To develop evidence on what constitutes excellent teaching, how teachers develop, and what teachers should know and learn, teams of Bank Street faculty studied the teaching practices of experienced and novice teachers and teacher graduates. This study will continue through all five years of TNE. Bank Street plans to use data from the five-year study and data from other sources for continuous program evaluation and redesign. In future years, the college plans to use standardized test score data on New York City students to assess Bank Street graduates' influence on student learning. It will also gather other sources of evidence regarding outcomes, such as samples of students' work.
Bank Street plans to design an induction program that will allow graduates to access learning opportunities in their own schools, at Bank Street, or via the Internet. As a first step in creating this system, Bank Street commissioned two studies on teacher induction—one on the strengths, interests, and needs of its graduates and the other on promising state induction programs. Bank Street will use these studies to guide the content and design of its induction program.
Because Bank Street is an independent college of education, involving arts and sciences faculty in TNE in a meaningful way is a tremendous challenge. Bank Street has successfully formed an institutional relationship with Sarah Lawrence College, whose arts and sciences faculty will work with Bank Street faculty to implement TNE.
The TNE initiative is meant to spur innovative, out-of-the-box thinking from the selected educational institutions. However, these institutions must comply with state policies and regulations, which could either support or inhibit their ability to substantially reform their teacher education programs.
States can help to support the reform effort. For example, to produce evidence on the effectiveness of their graduates in improving student learning, the TNE sites must be able to track their teacher graduates and to link student test score data with teacher data. Graduates teach in a variety of districts and states. As a result, obtaining these data is likely to be time consuming and expensive. Given the states' concerns about teacher supply, retention, and quality, it may be more efficient, and in the states' best interests, for each state to centralize its data collection effort and to provide TNE sites with access to the data as needed.
Under TNE, the sites are developing innovative ideas on how best to educate future teachers about content and teaching practices. However, this effort must be done within the context of state standards for teacher education, which may include specific course requirements and caps on the number of allowable credits for teacher education. TNE sites may need some flexibility to experiment with and test novel approaches to teacher education, which could benefit teacher education more broadly.
Induction is an area in which the sites must coordinate their TNE programs with state-mandated or district-run programs. Bank Street graduates teach primarily in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, and each of these states has its own requirements for induction. As a result, Bank Street is attempting to position its TNE induction activities within these three state-specific contexts.