Responses of Music Educators to Teacher Preparation Regulations
Daniel S. Hellman, Missouri State University
A small group of venture philanthropists have been successful in framing a dominant narrative that university-based teacher education is ineffectual and out of step with the needs of contemporary schools (Zeichner, 2015). Most frequently, this has been demonstrated by documenting the rate at which individual teachers impact scores on standardized tests. This misguided approach has also been extended back to teacher preparation programs. The perception that individual teachers (and by extension university teacher education programs) are the primary source of the success and failure of public schools and that test scores provide a valid measure of quality has generally been embraced uncritically by the media and frequently by the public at large. Consequently, significant issues such as the narrowing of the curricula, work environment in schools, educational quality beyond standardized test results, and the actual innovation taking place in universities receives little attention and scrutiny beyond academic circles. Meanwhile, the effect on teacher education policy has been significant with numerous policies emerging in recent years that impose increasing regulations on university-based teacher education programs. The most significant challenge to university-based teacher education to date is the recently proposed teacher preparation regulations (Kumashiro, 2015; US DOE, 2014). These new requirements, which are currently under review by the U.S. Department of Education, would require states to collect and report specific data on individual teacher preparation programs and then use that data to make high stake assessments regarding program quality.
These regulations are expected to require the reporting of data on K-12 learning outcomes, job placement and retention rates, and perceptions of employers and program completers. Using these data, individual preparation programs will be rated as “exceptional”, “effective”, “at risk” or “low performing”. Programs designated as “low performing” are expected to carry consequences that threaten program approval and teacher licensure status. The potential implications for music teacher education are extensive, including but not limited to public perception, recruiting, curriculum, assessment practices, and morale; notwithstanding, the potential elimination of programs based on questionable uses of data.
The purpose of this study is to examine the capacity of music educators to respond to emerging regulations on teacher preparation. Research questions include (1) What concerns to the teacher preparation regulations were provided during the public comment period by music educators? (2) What changes were suggested to the proposed regulations by music educators? (3) What evidence was used to support the responses provided by music educators? (4) How do the responses of music educators differ from other responses to the regulations?
Study data were accessed from publicly available comments to the Teacher Preparation Rule as published on December 2, 2014 (n.d). Over 4,800 comments were received on the policy change by the deadline of February 2, 2015. Twenty- five publicly available comments were identified as submitted by self-identified music educators. The comments are analyzed deductively, guided by the research questions. Discussion focuses on the role and capacity of music educators in the realm of teacher education policy.
Kumashiro, K. (2015, January). Review of Proposed 2015 Federal Teacher Preparation Regulations. Boulder CO: National Education Policy Center. Available http://nepc.colorado.edu
Regulations.gov: Your voice in Federal decision-making. (n.d.) Available http://www.regulations.gov
United States Department of Education (2014, December). Teacher Preparation Issues: Proposed Rule. Available https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/03/2014-28218/teacher-preparation-issues
Zeichner, K & Sandoval, C. P. (2013, April). Venture Philanthropy and Teacher Education Policy in the U.S.: The Role of the New Schools Venture Fund. Presented at the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA. Available http://www.nnerpartnerships.org/wp-content/files/VenturePhilanthropyandTeacherEducation.pdf