The lynchpin to improving education for our nation’s students: “Teachers, teachers, teachers.” That’s how West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine concluded his opening remarks at the Evaluation Systems group of Pearson’s recent 26th Annual Conference, “The Educational Landscape of the Future.” More than 130 leaders in teacher preparation and education were invited to Chicago in October for the two-day meeting, where the agenda focused on how the most current educational initiatives, such as the Common Core State Standards and the newly revised Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) Model Core Teaching Standards, can help improve teaching and learning for children in our country.
Conference participants came from 33 states and the District of Columbia and included leaders from state departments of education; principals and classroom teachers; faculty and administrators from colleges and universities; and leadership from national education organizations, such as the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the National Education Association, as well as the U.S. Department of Education.
"Every year I look forward to the insightful dialogue that occurs when top education leaders gather for our conference," said William Gorth, president, Evaluation Systems group of Pearson. "While divergent views were presented and discussed this year, our attendees seemed to concur on one unifying conclusion: Effective preparation and professional development for teachers is key to ensuring that our nation’s children receive the high-quality education that will prepare them for 21st century success."
Describing how his state is improving teacher effectiveness, Gary Nixon, executive director, Tennessee State Board of Education, detailed the state’s new teacher evaluation process, including legislation that requires that all teachers are evaluated every year. As an education leader in one of only two states to be successful in the first round of the federal Race to the Top funding competition earlier this year, Nixon concluded that the only way that teacher quality can truly be improved is through an effective partnership between the K-12 and higher education/teacher preparation communities.
In her thought-provoking presentation, "Transform vs. Reform: Which is the Future of Education?," Alexa Posny, assistant secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education, put forth the challenge of successfully educating today’s socially and civically conscious digital natives. She described the different world in which today’s learners live: "When you think about the kids who are going to graduate from high school this year, think about the things they have never been exposed to. They live in such a different world. How many kids even know what a blackboard is?"
Posny outlined the ways that the legislation for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is specifically designed to provide states and school districts with the strategies and tools necessary to prepare today’s learners for college and careers.
Demonstrating how states are successfully facing these challenges and transforming their teacher certification standards to support today’s education environment, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Executive Director Dale Janssen and Terry Janicki, administrator of exams and research, shared their state’s approach to the transition in their presentation, "From Research to Policy to Practice Within the Context of California’s Learning to Teach Continuum."
Attendees also received an update on the InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards from Kathleen Paliokas and Peter McWalters, both of the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Mary Diez from Alverno College in Milwaukee. These standards, which are currently available for public comment, comprise a set of principles of effective teaching, revised from the 1992 model standards, in response to new visions for teaching.
Stephen Pruitt from Achieve, Inc., one of the partner organizations in the development of the new Common Core Standards, walked the participants through the status of this initiative, including the group’s work in developing standards for science education.
Participants also learned more about two multi-state assessment consortia, Partnership for the Assessments of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which have been awarded federal Race to the Top assessment grants to develop K-12 assessment systems aligned to the Common Core Standards. PARCC has contracted with Achieve to manage its activities, and Pruitt provided an update on this group’s progress. Sue Gendron, a policy coordinator for the SBAC, outlined the group’s work developing its new assessment system.
In addition, other education leaders who presented at the conference included:
The Evaluation Systems group of Pearson is the most experienced developer of standards-based teacher certification testing programs. Evaluation Systems has more than three decades of experience developing, administering and scoring tests for prospective teachers in the United States and, through its custom work for states, has created teacher certification tests for more than 100 content fields, professional teaching skills and basic skills of college-level reading, writing and mathematics. In 2009, Evaluation Systems introduced the NES® (National Evaluation Series™), a contemporary 100 percent computer-based teacher certification testing program, which is now available to complement its custom certification testing programs.
The complete proceedings of this year’s Evaluation Systems’ conference will be published and posted to the web site in spring 2011. For more information about the Evaluation Systems group of Pearson, go to http://teacher.pearsonassessments.com.
Pearson (NYSE:PSO), the global leader in education and education technology, provides innovative print and digital education materials for preK through college, student information systems and learning management systems, teacher licensure testing, teacher professional development, career certification programs, and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry. Pearson’s other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group. For more information about the Assessment & Information group of Pearson, visit http://www.pearsonassessments.com/.
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