January 16, 2020

January 2020 Research Rundown

By Krista Kaput

Welcome to EdAllies’ January Research Rundown: our curated list of recent, relevant research we think is worth adding to the education equity conversation. To start 2020, we’re sharing research on:

  • Declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs, 
  • The validity of the edTPA, and 
  • Black and Latino access to high-quality preschool programs. 
What to Make of Declining Enrollment in Teacher Preparation Programs 

Center for American Progress, December 2019 

Since 2010, enrollment in teacher preparation has declined by more than one-third, with some states experiencing drastic declines of more than 50%. And despite efforts to increase teacher diversity, enrollment among black and Latino teacher candidates has actually dropped by 25%and by 50% for Native American teacher candidates. Despite this overall downward trend, alternative preparation programs—specifically those not based in institutes of higher educationexperienced an enrollment increase of more than 40% between 2010 and 2018, with some states seeing even bigger jumps, indicating a clear demand for these programs. 

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

Minnesota schools continue to face shortages of teachers of color and teachers in specific fields, and recently made a set of statewide policy changes to create new pathways to the classroom. In 2019, the Learning Disabilities Association of Minnesota launched the state’s first alternative teacher preparation program, followed shortly by a second program at Lakes Country Service Cooperative. These tailored programs help fill significant needs for special education teachers and CTE teachers in Greater Minnesota, respectively. TNTP and Southwest West Central Service Cooperative are also seeking program approval. Minnesota is still home to a few non-conventional pathways—like Teach for America and Grow Your Own programs—that are run through institutions of higher education
Read the full report

Assessing the Assessment: Evidence of Reliability and Validity in the edTPA 

American Educational Research Journal, December 2019 

The Education Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) is a standards-based assessment used to identify whether teacher candidates meet a set of core competencies. Now that the assessment has been in place for about five years, researchers worked to examine whether it is an effective tool for assessing aspiring teachers. They concluded that the results are not always reliable or precise, with potential negative impacts on teacher candidates. Until these issues are further analyzed and resolved, the researchers suggest that the edTPA should not be used for high-stakes decisions for individual teachers. 

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

The Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) is currently undergoing rulemaking for teacher preparation unit and program regulations, which are the requirements all teacher preparation program providers must meet to prepare candidates for teacher licensure in Minnesota. One of the proposed regulations would keep the edTPA as the board-adopted teacher performance assessment required for licensure, as well as one of the measures for program effectiveness. Given the results of the study, PELSB should reconsider adopting the edTPA until the issues are further analyzed and resolved. 
Read the full report

Young Learners, Missed Opportunities: Ensuring that Black and Latino Children Have Access to High-Quality State-Funded Preschool 

The Education Trust, November 2019 

In a first-of-its-kind analysis, The Education Trust examined preschool access and quality for black and Latino three- and four-year-olds. Of the 26 states they analyzed, none of them provided black and Latino children with sufficient access to high-quality programs. Only 1% of Latino and 4% of black students were enrolled in high-quality state-funded preschool programs. And even among those who were enrolled in state-funded programs, only 4% of Latino and 13% of black students were enrolled in high-quality programs. 

The report also provided recommendations for how states can improve access to high-quality preschool programs, including prioritizing expansion to historically underserved communities, publishing meaningful equity data, targeted communications, supporting dual language learners, and making enrollment easy. 

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

Minnesota was not captured in the Education Trust report because good, comparable data was not available. However, we know that the trends here are similar. A 2018 report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) found that the array of early childhood programs is “complex and fragmented” and that this creates “burdens for families, which may result in lower access to needed services.” The report addressed the lack of key data, and the challenges this causes for measuring program access and effectiveness. 

In order to know if preschool programs are effectively serving our most underserved communities, having good and comprehensive data is critical. The OLA report recommended that the Minnesota Department of Education should collect better data on early childhood access and screening. The report also recommended that the Legislature should consider aligning funding and eligibility to make programs more efficient and understandable. Policymakers should consider the OLA recommendations and work to make Minnesota’s early childhood programs more accessible for traditionally underserved students. 
Read the full report