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Improvement Science in Teacher Preparation at California State University: How teacher preparation partnerships are building capacity to learn to improve
One of the most pressing educational problems in the United States is improving the quality of teacher preparation (Goldhaber, Liddle, & Theobald, 2013; National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, & Institute of Medicine, 2007). Over the last decade the education sector has begun to learn from other sectors — especially health care — about the potential power of improvement science as an approach to improving the quality and reliability of educational systems (Bryk, Gomez, Grunow, & LeMahieu, 2015; Coburn, Penuel, & Geil, 2013; Lewis, 2015). Evidence from an effort to improve how beginning teachers are supported in three large urban districts through development and testing of feedback systems demonstrates the promise of improvement science methods for tackling persistent challenges in teaching (Hannan, Russell, Takahashi, & Park, 2015).
This Innovation Highlight describes a network-based effort — the New Generation of Educators Initiative (NGEI), funded by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation — that applies the principles and methods of improvement science (Langley, Moen, Nolan, Nolan, Norman, & Provost, 2009) to the challenge of improving how new teachers are prepared in the California State University System. The initiative emphasizes data-driven, continuous improvement by funding teacher preparation programs to routinely collect and analyze the data needed to monitor teacher candidates' progress toward competency in prioritized skills and to use the results of that analysis to (a) inform clinical support and teaching during the school year and (b) identify meaningful programmatic changes.
The NGEI-funded teacher preparation programs also receive support from WestEd and SRI, which have developed a multipronged technical assistance strategy that is informed by improvement science. The technical assistance includes in-person trainings, cross-site webinars, monthly coaching calls with each site, annual convenings, and occasional site visits.
The first section of this Innovation Highlight explains the theory of improvement science and how approaches that are informed by improvement science differ from other improvement efforts. The second section describes how NGEI has put this theory into practice through improvement science technical assistance for the NGEI grantees. Examples from the NGEI grantees are included throughout to illustrate how improvement science principles have been applied in the teacher preparation context.
Examining Classroom Observation Rubric Data: Issues emerging from classroom observation rubric data submitted August 2017
Observational rubrics should be designed to measure candidate progress toward prioritized skills in a valid and reliable way. Importantly, the observational rubric must accurately capture variation between the dimensions of teaching included on the rubric, among candidates, and over time. In August 2017, the Foundation asked NGEI campuses to submit observation rubric data from all or a subset of candidates enrolled in funded programs from the most recent semester from which data was available and to write a brief reflection on their rubric data. Campuses could choose to submit data from one or more points in time. The Foundation requested that WestEd/SRI analyze the data submitted by NGEI sites.
The purpose of this memo is to provide an overview of the data campuses submitted, highlight patterns in the data, and identify issues that can inform changes in how campuses use their rubrics to support candidates.
Approaches to Improving Clinical Practice: Describing how NGEI sites are reforming clinical placement experiences and candidate feedback systems
WestEd and SRI International are conducting a formative evaluation to track New Generation of Educators Initiative (NGEI) implementation and outcomes at the campuses that received comprehensive grants in Phase 1. Periodically, we produce Evaluation Cycle Reports to synthesize current work across campuses and, at the system level, highlight best practices, and provide information on how the initiative as a whole is progressing toward the Key Transformation Elements (KTEs). The first Evaluation Cycle Report, released in December 2015, summarized initial reforms of grantees (i.e., campuses and their district partners) relative to the teacher pipeline and the KTEs. The current report describes selected continuing grantees' approaches to improving clinical practice during NGEI Phase 1 (July 2015–June 2016).
As efforts have mounted to reform how teachers are prepared for their profession, so have calls for data that would provide insights into whether teacher preparation programs are producing desired outcomes, and for data that would inform continuous improvement efforts. The New Generation of Educators Initiative (NGEI) at California State University (CSU), funded by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, seeks to strengthen the current teacher preparation system in California so that new teachers enter the workforce prepared to implement the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. Building on the efforts of CSU teacher preparation programs (TPPs) that have been working toward improved outcomes, this paper offers a perspective on how TPPs can use data that indicate how key parts of their systems are performing.