A well-organized and efficient data system is vital to gather and report evidence of candidate quality and program effectiveness. In the Mayville State University (MSU) educator preparation program, we annually collect and analyze disaggregated program assessment data for continuous improvement. To do so, we use Taskstream by Watermark as our centralized assurance system for managing applications for admission, key assessments, student placements, candidate progress, ePortfolios, curriculum mapping, research data collection, and to design custom reports.
The program has focused ongoing improvement efforts on quality and strategic evaluation: collecting, monitoring, analyzing, and reviewing results. Direct response folios help us monitor candidate quality at admission, as they progress through the program and clinical experiences, and at program completion. To ensure quality management operations, the data manager and accreditation coordinator work together to review evidence measures and reporting capabilities, to align each with accreditation standards, and to cross-check that reporting produced the right information needed for evidence.
All of, this allows faculty to carry out the program’s conceptual framework of the Reflective Experiential Teacher, thinking critically and reflecting on theory, practices, and contextualized experiences that impact education candidates and the students they will one day teach. The suite of tools from Taskstream allows us to work efficiently within time constraints, eliminate barriers to progress, and situate the program for reflective action framed on three critical features: open-mindedness, responsibility and wholeheartedness (Grant & Zeichner, 1984).
Open-mindedness helps Mayville State explore innovations and alternatives for content, methods and procedures in relation to program outcomes; to not only ask why things are the way they are, but also to consider how to make them better. For example, as a rural North Dakota institution, geography can be an obstacle to working with high-quality clinical partners. Some of the designated high-reliability schools (Marzano, 2011) and Department of Public Instruction demonstration schools are within a 40 minute drive, while others are a 400 mile drive.
Evaluation of candidate placement patterns in the field experience database prompted consideration of how technology-based collaborations for remote classroom observations might enhance early-program learning opportunities. The database was used to monitor the depth, breadth, and diversity of clinical experiences, and the accountability management system helped us document a pilot exploration through an implementation timeline and substantiating evidence.
As a teacher training program, we are mindful that our institutional choices result in definite consequences. We assume the responsibility of the effects of our actions, not only on the educators we train, but also on their future students. At the beginning of each academic year, faculty teams representing early childhood, elementary, and secondary level programs summarize prior year results by evaluating outcomes compared to acceptable and ideal targets for candidate performance of key program area measures. Consideration is given to important findings, strengths and weaknesses of assessments and coinciding instructional processes, and whether acceptable and ideal targets were met, not met, or exceeded. Teams also create action plans for any measures that need improvement.
Ultimately, wholeheartedness is demonstrated through consistency in actions and beliefs; behavior is a manifestation of our teaching philosophy. If we aim to train reflective practitioners, we must ourselves model that which we expect. And so, faculty reflect on annual findings, describing the logic behind improvement decisions.
These processes have helped to change perceptions of accountability measures within the program, reframing them to inspire possibility. At Mayville State, we play an active role in shaping educational outcomes and illustrating our identity as a quality educator preparation program.
Grant, C. A., & Zeichner, K. M. (1984). On becoming a reflective teacher. In C. A. Grant, Preparing for reflective teaching (103-114). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Marzano, R. J., Warrick, P., & Simms, J. A. (2011). A handbook for high reliability schools: The next step in school reform. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.
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