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Report on Evidence-Based

Teacher Preparation

Penn State College of Education


Dean’s Message

6 Preparing Teachers to Teach

Preparing Teachers with Modern Digital Technologies 12 New Book: Curriculum-Based Activities and Resources for Preservice Math Teachers 16

18 Professional Development for Current Teachers

Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, Children’s Literature 21 Online Master of Education in Educational Leadership Program, Teacher Leadership 22 Journal of Teacher Education: Special Issue Focuses on Accountability in Education 23 New Book: What’s Your Evidence? Engaging K–5 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science 24

26 Professional Development School: Research and Practice

Center for Evaluation and Education Policy Analysis 29



Table of Contents

Report on Evidence-Based Teacher Preparation



| Dean’s Message

In the College of Education, we celebrate the richness of the different kinds of evidence that help us understand and improve teaching and learning. Evidence lies at the heart of our efforts to improve the field, and the results of our commitment to the central importance of evidence are immediately reflected in our preparation programs. Our goal is to unleash the transformational potential of education for our students as well as for everyone in our students’ pathways as they pursue their careers. It is a deep privilege to pursue this goal.




Dean’s Message

Making Sense of the Evidence Surrounding the Preparation of Teachers



e live in a world where significant disagreements exist over how best to prepare the next generation of teachers. I was privileged to be a member of the National Research Council panel charged with examining the available evidence and offering advice about the current and future condition of teacher preparation in America. (Read the report here:

This was a challenging assignment in part because of the considerable variation and inconsistency across the states in the types of available evidence, but also because of difficulties we faced in reaching consensus about what should count as evidence. Some panel members felt the only evidence worth considering are the results of experiments in which treatments are randomly distributed across broad populations of students, schools, or school districts and from which the results are interpreted in terms of cause and effect. Other panelists were more willing to accept as useful evidence professional judgments that have evolved over decades of experience with alternative approaches and more informal assessments of consequences.

The consensus that emerged recognized the strengths and limitations of different research designs and led to recommendations for more comprehensive and complementary types of research. It is clear that for some questions in education, experimental research can contribute critically important information. In fact there has been a significant expansion in the number of experimentally based studies of education, although even now relatively few completed experimental studies exist. I wonder, however, about what happens in experimental studies in which the design includes deliberate efforts to wash out the effects of outliers. The thinking is that outliers are misleading and that it is best in experiments to calculate average effects rather than to focus on the unusual or outlying effects. In education, I wonder if we are not better advised also to pay explicit attention to unusual effects. I like to think that everyone can remember at least one teacher who had a truly transformational impact on his or her life. But even if not everyone has had this experience, some of us have been lucky enough to encounter this kind of (sad to say) unusual teacher, and for me this speaks to the importance and power of outliers and unusual effects.

I received a phone call completely out of the blue recently from a former student I had when I began my career as a third-grade teacher in an inner-city school. She had been searching for me for years and simply wanted to tell me that I made an important difference in her life. It was the ultimate feel-good moment for a teacher that this woman, now in her mid-40s, wanted to say, “thank you.” I mention this not because I was such a great teacher or because I think one good story is sufficient as a basis for broad public policy. In fact, in many ways, as a first year teacher, I suspect my performance was far from excellent. Rather, I mention it because this story speaks to the potential for education to be transformational. We lose track of these transformational effects at our peril, and I wonder how many experimental studies we need to conduct in which the finding is that the average effect is no different before we realize we may be losing sight of education’s transformational potential. In the College of Education, we celebrate the richness of the different kinds of evidence that help us understand and improve teaching and learning. Evidence lies at the heart of our efforts to improve the field, and the results of our commitment to the central importance of evidence are immediately reflected in our preparation programs. Our goal is to unleash the transformational potential of education for our students as well as for everyone in our students’ pathways as they pursue their careers. It is a deep privilege to pursue this goal.

David H. Monk



Preparing Teachers to Teach

Report on Evidence-Based Teacher Preparation

t Prepa r i n g T e ac h e r s to T e ac h


he teaching endeavor is a complex problemsolving practice. Teachers must have knowledge of their subject matter and instructional techniques, as well as the ability to create learning environments that meet the needs of individual students. At any given time, they are drawing on all these knowledge areas, while continually assessing the learning taking place in the room, and adapting their instruction to successfully teach their students. College of Education faculty members are continually researching the knowledge and abilities needed by teachers and the best ways to impart that knowledge to new teachers. Their research results are immediately applied in Penn State classrooms, as well as in the preservice classrooms of their students.

Jeanine Staples, assistant professor of education, investigates how preservice teachers develop critical-thinking skills and then pass these skills on to their future students. She is particularly interested in examining secondary English/communications preservice teachers’ abilities to engage with and evaluate media and popular culture and to incorporate this knowledge into the curricular choices they make for their future classes.

Specifically, she investigates how preservice teachers become cultural critics and media producers; how they develop critical/ creative inquiries through engagements with media and popular culture; and how they form questions about race, class, gender, religion, sexuality, etc., as they engage with media as sociocultural texts. “This work is important because it positions preservice teachers as critical thinkers, perceptive participants, and socio-academic change agents as opposed to passive instructors,” said Staples. “It also encourages preservice teachers to attend closely to the ways that literacy education and pedagogies of teaching and learning, particularly in relation to media and popular culture, can strengthen critical thinking, writing, and oral expression.”


| Preparing PreparingTeachers TeacherstotoTeach Teach

With a global perspective, teachers can engage students in cultural reflection and critical analysis of language, literature, and media texts to support valued interactions and productive collaborations across diverse cultural groups.


Staples also investigates preservice teachers’ awareness of the nature, parameters, and impacts of literacies and language, particularly as they evolve in relation to various spaces, texts, relationships, intentions, and desires. In other words, she focuses on how preservice teachers define literacies and language, how they use literacies and language, and how they expand and complicate literacies and language when engaging with texts in particular places with particular people. To further examine teacher education, Staples is studying how new definitions of literacies and language can inform adolescent and adult education, how literacies function and evolve in adolescent/adult’s literate lives, and how these phenomena evolve in relation to texts, affinities, academic/social desires, and spaces. For example, she is investigating how groups of adolescents and adults read and write together outside of school, and how they become inspired to develop inquiries as they engage with multiple narratives of popular culture. She takes this information back to teacher education as “real life” lessons in the development of adolescent/adult literate lives. Similarly, Jamie Myers, professor of education, is investigating how interactions with people of other cultures can benefit adult teachers. Myers’ research focuses on the construction of global perspectives in literacy teacher education. “With a global perspective, teachers can engage students in cultural reflection and critical analysis of language, literature, and media texts to support valued interactions and productive collaborations across diverse cultural groups,” said Myers.

In particular, Myers investigates how interactive technologies and multimedia tools can facilitate critical thinking and multicultural consciousness. In a recent study, he and a colleague used a collaboration with Jönköpong University in Sweden as a case study to analyze the consequences of an online discussion forum between American and Swedish students of education. The researchers asked the students to share their responses to a short story and then to query each other on how their interpretations reflected cultural values and beliefs. “We hoped that students would move beyond their personal responses and examine the ways that their responses, as well as the texts they read, have been socially constructed by the systems in which they live and by which they have been shaped,” said Myers. The team concluded that engaging students in online discussion with global partners can generate an increased awareness of multiple subject positions from which students can frame future interactions. Elizabeth Smolcic, assistant professor of education, is investigating how cultural diversity here in the United States affects teachers. The U.S. public school population is increasingly more diverse and teachers are much more likely to have linguistically and culturally diverse students in their classrooms, even in schools with traditionally white, middle-class, and English-speaking families. The demographic shift creates complex challenges for teachers who may have limited knowledge and experience with students from nonEnglish-speaking backgrounds.

“With the reality of increasing diversity in public schools, teachers are challenged to enrich their own interculturality and understanding of the world outside of their own cultural frame,” said Elizabeth Smolcic. “A critical need in teacher education is to better understand the learning process of becoming interculturally competent and how teachers develop an awareness of the social and cultural situations of immigrant students.”

Smolcic’s research explores teacher learning about teaching linguistically and culturally diverse learners, the relationships between culture and language learning in classrooms, and the human developmental process of becoming intercultural. In particular, she investigates the learning process of novice English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers as they move toward a clearer understanding of the social structures that frame today’s classroom contexts in U.S. public schools. In a recent project, Smolcic followed a cohort of teachers over a fifteen-month period as they participated in a teaching ESL certificate program, which included a field teaching and cultural/language immersion experience in a bilingual, bicultural community in Otavalo, Ecuador.



Preparing Teachers to Teach

The data illustrate the value of direct personal interaction and collaboration with others and highlight the mediational means that students draw on to conceptualize and analyze the processes of intercultural learning.


Smolcic also investigated a semester-long intercultural partnership between international English learners in an advanced ESL course and undergraduate teacher-learners who were completing a course on culture and language in ESL teaching. Early in the semester, the students in Smolcic’s study were asked to explore the individual cultures of their international partners and make a comparative analysis of their own cultures. By the middle of the semester, they began work on a collaborative research project, culminating in a poster presentation on a selected topic within the broader area of globalization (the content theme of the ESL course). Both groups narrated their experiences in blogs and written assignments, reflecting on the process of intercultural communication and collaborative work with their partners. “The data illustrate the value of direct personal interaction and collaboration with others and highlight the mediational means that students draw on to conceptualize and analyze the processes of intercultural learning,” said Smolcic. Matthew Poehner, assistant professor of education, examines the theory of Dynamic Assessment—the set of theoretical concepts and principles that help to structure interactions between teachers and learners so that they provide insights into learner needs and abilities (assessment) and offer support to guide learner development (teaching).

“The projects that I have done over the past several years have all been carried out collaboratively with classroom language teachers,” said Poehner. “We discuss the theory behind Dynamic Assessment and then together determine how those concepts and principles might be used in the teacher’s particular context to help him or her better understand students’ capabilities and meet his or her instructional aims.” For example, with a teacher of Japanese, the teacher had noted that there was considerable variability with regard to the learners’ abilities and needs and that she had had to do considerable one-on-one work with students outside of class. Poehner helped her to employ Dynamic Assessment to identify areas of common need across students in the class. This served as a starting point for whole class activities in which the teacher provided enough support to help the students but not so much that she removed the need for struggle and collaboration among learners that ultimately facilitated their development. In addition to conducting research, Poehner also has produced a “Teachers Guide to Dynamic Assessment,” which is a DVD that includes a book-length manual and video appendices. He also has conducted numerous teacher professional development workshops on the topic of Dynamic Assessment. “The workshops have typically attracted teachers from a wide range of grade levels, languages, and contexts,” said Poehner. “The teachers guidebook that I co-wrote has been indispensable in these workshops, as it introduces key concepts and principles that the teachers can then use as a point of departure for meeting their needs and the needs of their learners.”

In a similar fashion, Andrea McCloskey, assistant professor of mathematics education, is interested in how preservice students develop the ability to understand children’s needs in the classroom.

“I wonder how we can design assignments and experiences in methods classes that help student teachers see the mathematical understandings of the children in their placement classrooms from informed and professional perspectives,” said McCloskey.

She is researching questions related to the preparation and support of preservice elementary teachers to teach children mathematics, and is especially looking at innovative ways to capitalize on intersections between university coursework and field experiences in elementary classroom settings. For example, because of the EDUCATE program (see sidebar, page 12), preservice teachers all have access to notebook computers with software allowing them to record and then analyze classroom interactions. McCloskey asks preservice teachers to record and then review video of young kids solving a mathematics problem. The preservice teachers then learn to assess the mathematics knowledge and understanding of the children based on what they see in the video.



Preparing Teachers to Teach

Preparing Teachers with Modern Digital



Within the College’s EDUCATE initiative, teacher preparation students use powerful modern digital tools as they learn about and practice to become beginning teachers for 21st century classrooms. Through EDUCATE, or Exploring Directions in Ubiquitous Computing and Teacher Education, students entering their junior year in many of the College teacher preparation programs are required to purchase a notebook computer and specific software. Students use the computers for in-class assignments, to prepare curriculum materials, to engage K-12 learners in various learning environments, to communicate with peers and instructors while studying abroad, and to record and analyze their own teaching, among other uses. Knowing that every student in their class has a notebook computer allows faculty members teaching these classes to incorporate the technology into the coursework. For example, a student can record herself teaching children and then analyze the digital video with peers in a methods class. In a literacy teaching methods classroom, students prepare blogs, podcasts, and other materials to support literacy teaching and learning. Mathematics teaching methods students review and critique online mathematics learning tools and applications.

Andrea McCloskey, assistant professor of mathematics education, said, “My students bring their computer to class every day, like a textbook. I think of it as a toolbox that they will be able to take with them to their own classrooms--only instead of being a static set of tools, the notebook computer and the connectivity it provides can be a dynamic resource.” Jennifer Weiss, a world languages education student, was enthusiastic about her experience with the digital tools. “It was helpful as a reflective tool to look back and think through our experiences in the classroom,” she said. “As a future teacher, I have a better idea of how to incorporate technology in the classroom in a variety of ways, including slide shows, websites, videos, and more.”

McCloskey also is thinking about how to help teachers view assessment differently. Specifically, she hopes they can learn to view assessment as part of the learning process. In her own Penn State classroom, she asks her students to complete quizzes collaboratively as well as review and correct errors on previous tests. “At first, they don’t see these activities as forms of assessment,” she said. “I want to challenge their understanding of mathematics classrooms, so they view everything that happens as a learning opportunity.” This new view on assessment is part of a larger research agenda into classroom rituals and traditions that institutions like schools maintain over time. These rituals include activities like homework, timed tests, and grading.

Said McCloskey, “Teaching is a culturally-embedded practice. So many of my Penn State students have an image of their role as a teacher in a mathematics classroom that is based on their own experience as students. We try to work toward a more sophisticated understanding of these cultural practices and why they seem so persistent in our schools.”

At first, they don’t see these activities as forms of assessment. I want to challenge their understanding of mathematics classrooms, so they view everything that happens as a learning opportunity.



Preparing Teachers to Teach

According to the study, anxiety emerged as the emotion most significantly impacting participants.


Similarly, Associate Professor Scott McDonald is interested in helping preservice teachers develop a professional pedagogical vision. His research focuses on the development of beginning teachers’ expertise through the use of video analysis of teaching. This analysis, he said, is focused on developing preservice teachers’ ability to understand and engage in ambitious science teaching. “I ask students to do intensive and extended analysis of video of teaching practice individually, in small groups, and in whole class discussion over a semester-long course on science teaching,” he said. “In particular, I use a sophisticated video analysis tool, called Studiocode, to help my students develop professional pedagogical vision, which is the ability to see and think about teaching and classrooms like an expert teacher would.” For example, in one activity, he had his students record videos of themselves teaching lessons to their classmates or in school settings. He then asked the students to analyze the videos and reflect on their teaching practices. The Studiocode tool allowed the students to create “codes,” or labels, to mark events of interest within their videos. In another study of two beginning science teachers, McDonald and then doctoral student Oliver Dreon examined the emotional engagement they had with their teaching practices, especially that of implementing inquiry-based instruction and the resulting impact these emotions had on pedagogy. To examine these phenomena, they used narratives shared in interviews and weblog postings.

According to the study, anxiety emerged as the emotion most significantly impacting participants. This emotion arose from the participants’ experiences related to how comfortable they were in teaching the content, how unpredictable the inquiry lessons were, and how they perceived their students as viewing them.

“The implications of this work are that reflection on their own teaching is not adequate for preservice teachers to develop complex practices,” said McDonald. “By designing experiences for them that focus on developing their professional pedagogical vision, they develop a richer understanding of and ability to engage in these practices.”

Rose Mary Zbiek, professor of education, wants to know how teachers justify, define, generalize, and represent mathematical ideas and how they work with the products of these processes.

“This approach allows us to study both ‘personal math’—the mathematics that a teacher does when working on math problems and not necessarily in the context of teaching—and ‘classroom math’— the mathematics in which a teacher and his or her students engage in the classroom,” said Zbiek. “By focusing on processes and actions, we can look at how mathematically strong teachers are in a novel way. We also can understand better relationships between teacher knowledge or teacher math competency and their classroom

practices or their students’ achievement. In addition, the approach also gives us a refined lens for comparing lessons and describing what constitutes good teaching.” Zbiek and her colleagues, Kathleen Heid, distinguished professor of education, and Glen Blume, professor of education, are completing analyses and producing papers and a book from a collective case study that follows eight emerging teachers from their first methods course as juniors in college through their senior year. It then follows them as student teachers and into their first year of solo teaching. For some, it follows them into their second year. “In our papers, we are sharing the stories of how emerging teachers balance what Jaworski identifies as mathematical challenge, cognitive sensitivity to students, affective sensitivity to students, and management of learning,” said Zbiek. “Their remarkable stories are evidence of how beginning teachers can leverage their personal mathematics abilities to provide rich opportunities for their middleschool and high-school students.” Heid, Zbiek, and Blume lead the Penn State part of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Mathematics Teaching and Learning, a collaboration among Penn State, the University of Delaware, and the University of Maryland. The Center received National Science Foundation funding from 2000 until 2013 for two purposes: (1) to support the infrastructure for mathematics education by helping to prepare individuals with Ph.D. degrees in mathematics education and (2) to conduct research on the relationships between teachers’ mathematical and pedagogical knowledge, their classroom practice, and their students’ achievement.

Among other projects, center faculty members have collaborated with researchers at the University of Georgia in the development of a framework for “Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching Mathematics at the Secondary Level.” “We developed the framework from a series of approximately 50 annotated ‘situations,’ or events that have happened in real classrooms and that require teachers to call on their mathematical knowledge,” said Heid. “The ‘situations’ describe the kinds of mathematical knowledge that secondary teachers could productively use given each particular event, and the framework synthesized that knowledge into a document that could be useful for teacher educators, mathematicians who teach courses for secondary teachers, and professional developers.” According to Heid, the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics is now interested in working with the team to develop a facilitator’s guide for using the framework.



Preparing Teachers to Teach

New Book: CurriculumBased Activities and


Resources for Preservice Math Teachers

A new book co-edited by Gwendolyn Lloyd, professor of mathematics education, offers strategies and resources for using Standards-based curriculum materials in mathematics teacher education. Lloyd collaborated with Vanessa Pitts-Bannister, of the University of South Florida Polytechnic, to edit Curriculum-Based Activities and Resources for Preservice Math Teachers (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2011). The book follows on the heels of research that Lloyd and Pitts-Bannister conducted over several years. In their work, funded by the National Science Foundation, Lloyd and Pitts-Bannister examined strategies for using innovative curriculum resources to improve preservice teachers’ understandings of mathematics teaching and learning. In response to the publication of the first set of Standards from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in 1989, many new K-12 mathematics curriculum programs were developed. Over the past two decades, these curriculum programs have been widely implemented, studied, and revised. Standards-based curriculum materials, as they came to be known, contain mathematical content and instructional approaches that are unfamiliar and challenging to many teachers. Due to their unique design, these curriculum materials

create new opportunities for teacher educators to explore a wide range of teaching and learning issues and questions with preservice teachers. “Whereas mathematics textbooks are typically viewed as learning tools for children, they can also provide critical learning opportunities for teachers—including preservice teachers,” said Lloyd. “The book represents a collaboration among teacher educators who share the view that mathematics textbooks and curriculum materials hold potential for the learning of future elementary and secondary teachers.” “Our book shares carefully designed activities that draw on the representations of mathematics and pedagogy in the curriculum materials to support teachers’ learning,” said Lloyd. Activities include, for example, analyzing lessons or problems from the materials via a particular framework, comparing aspects of Standards-based curriculum materials and commercially developed textbooks, and designing lessons for peer teaching based on selections from Standards-based materials. Chapters also include teacher educators’ accounts of the learning of preservice teachers who engaged in the activities. The book also contains a chapter, co-authored by Penn State faculty member Andrea McCloskey, that offers insights into the role of curriculum materials in preservice teachers’ field experiences. This chapter extends the book’s consideration of mathematics teacher education from university coursework into the mathematics classroom. Although increasing numbers of teacher educators are using Standardsbased curriculum materials to support preservice teachers’ learning, Lloyd and Pitts-Bannister’s book is the first compilation of specific strategies, activities, and examples. “Our aim in putting together the book was to help teachers and teacher educators capitalize on the potential for learning that can occur through purposeful engagement with mathematics textbooks and curriculum materials,” Lloyd explained. “We really hope to increase opportunities for teachers to engage with and recognize curricular resources as tools for their own learning, as well as children’s learning, early in their careers.”



Professional Development for Current Teachers

Report on Evidence-Based Teacher Preparation

t Prof e s s ion a l D e v e l o pm e n t f o r Cu r r e n t T e ac h ers


uch of the research and policy regarding professional development (PD) among teachers has focused on the factors that professional developers need to consider when designing an effective professional development experience. However, little discussion has occurred about how professional developers conceptualize and enact their designs to ensure desirable outcomes.

Associate Professor Fran Arbaugh’s research investigates various aspects of professional development, specifically for mathematics and science teachers. For eight years, she and her colleagues served as the evaluation team for a midwestern state’s Improving Teacher Quality Grants, a state-funded professional development program in which they evaluated more than 40 science and/or mathematics professional development projects. The professional development projects had leadership teams consisting of university faculty members and school-district personnel.

“Our evaluation efforts provided outcome measures on the impact of the professional development on teachers and their students and supported project personnel as they reflected on effective and ineffective aspects of their professional development design and implementation,” said Arbaugh. In the first of a pair of studies regarding these evaluations, Arbaugh and her colleagues established a theoretical construct, called “The PD Project Orientation” framework. Through data collection and analysis, they found that each of the professional development projects had one of five orientations: (1) activity-driven in which professional developers engage teachers in activities that they hope the teachers will then use with their students; (2) science/mathematics content-driven in which professional developers try to help teachers learn new science content and laboratory techniques to enhance teachers’ understanding of selected concepts; (3) pedagogy-driven in which professional developers encourage a particular


Professional Development for Current Teachers

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inquiry-based instructional model and/or strategy that will help teachers help students learn; (4) curriculum materials-driven in which professional developers guide participating teachers through lessons and units from nationally or locally developed and tested curriculum materials to help teachers learn to use those materials in their classes; and (5) needs-driven in which professional developers enlist teachers to establish needs, design instruction, and implement instruction.

“This theoretical framework provides a way for those studying professional development to differentiate among professional development projects and to then assess teacher and student learning outcomes, ultimately being able to distinguish characteristics of effective professional development for mathematics and science teachers,” said Arbaugh.

In a second study, the researchers established a sixth orientation— “balanced”—in which professional development supports teacher learning of mathematics/science content in tandem with learning appropriate teaching strategies. The team found that teachers whose projects exhibited the balanced-driven orientation showed an intention to make more improvements in their teaching practices and reported that professional development would make more of a contribution to their professional practice than the activity- and pedagogy-driven projects.

Online Master of Education in

Curriculum and Instruction, Children’s Literature

Debra Lampert-Rudman has a corporate background, but fell in love with children’s literature while working for one of the country’s largest book retailers. Her job as a community relations manager at Barnes & Noble allows her to coordinate children’s story time and other events at stores throughout the area. Now, a Penn State online master’s degree in curriculum and instruction emphasizing children’s literature is giving Debra academic knowledge to supplement all that she has learned on the job. “I hope that the degree will open doors that will allow me to have an impact on the future of children’s literature and literacy through my work with Barnes & Noble and other organizations,” she said. In 2004, the College of Education partnered with the Penn State World Campus to offer a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Children’s Literature. “Educators who focus their professional development on children’s literature—on developing their skills and knowledge to encourage young students to read—will continue to be in high demand in a variety of settings, especially in schools because reading is the

foundation on which all other academic skills are built,” said Dan Hade, associate professor of language and literacy education. The online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Children’s Literature focuses on developing educators’ skills and knowledge in working with young readers. Participants can earn professional development credits, such as Act 48 in Pennsylvania, while they complete their courses online—with no required campus visits or residencies. The curriculum uses a blend of Web technology, print, and other media to maximize flexibility in support of student and professor interaction. Communication tools including threaded discussions, voice threads, Wiki page comment areas, and email are used to foster a collaborative environment, providing students with the opportunity to learn from one another. Courses focus on a variety of topics, such as the art of the picture book, myths and folktales for children, fantasy literature, and theories of childhood. According to Hade, teachers, school librarians, and other educational practitioners who want to earn a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction, meet professional development requirements, focus on children’s literature, and/or improve their opportunities for career advancement should consider applying to the program. “What could be more important than helping a child discover the joys of reading?” said Hade. “Our online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Children’s Literature focuses on developing educators’ skills and knowledge in working with young readers. It can improve their strategies for encouraging reading and transforming the lives of young readers.”


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Online Master of Education in Educational

Leadership Program, Teacher Leadership

Professor Nona Prestine and her colleagues in the college envisioned a program that would provide opportunities and experiences for teachers to develop their leadership potential; deepen their knowledge of schools, instruction, and learning; and renew their passion for their work on behalf of public education in a democratic society. The result was the Master of Education in Educational Leadership Program with an option in Teacher Leadership. Created in 2011, the online program is aimed at K–12 teachers who want to continue teaching in the classroom while they pursue additional roles such as lead teacher, mentor teacher, or department head. Course work explores topics such as learning theory, teacher leadership, teacher inquiry, and curriculum design. “Quality educational leadership is important to the overall success of an individual school or school system,” said Prestine. “Strong teacher leaders are key to high-performing schools; they help orchestrate school reforms and serve as motivators to fellow teachers and students.”

According to Prestine, the master’s program focuses on teacher inquiry as the primary means of improving instruction and student learning and of contributing to school improvement. “This kind of practice-based inquiry gives teachers the tools they need to gather evidence and present their arguments and findings for improvement,” said Prestine. At least three of the courses are designed so that the students can gain practice in conducting inquiry projects. “Unlike so many other teacher leadership programs that often are little more than an assemblage of already existing courses reconfigured into a ‘teacher leadership’ program, fully one-third of the courses in this program were new course additions and were developed specifically for the teacher leadership program,” said Prestine. As National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel said, “Teachers have the skills and knowledge that are critical to school improvement efforts, and we should be encouraging them to take on leadership roles so they can have greater influence on key decisions that impact teaching and learning.” “And that,” said Prestine, “is exactly what the Master of Education in Educational Leadership Program with an option in Teacher Leadership does.”

Journal of Teacher Education: Special Issue Focuses on

Accountability in Education

These days, the idea of accountability permeates conversations about education at every level, including teacher education and professional development. Yet the term “accountability” rarely is articulated clearly. For example, many accountability measures are too narrow in scope; they include meeting state certification requirements and assessing the achievement scores of program graduates, as measured by standardized tests. But in these cases, who is to be held accountable? And for what? And by whom? As the lead editor of the Journal of Teacher Education, Stephanie Knight, professor of education, has helped to organize a special issue of the journal that focuses on examining the complexity of assessment and accountability in teacher education. The special issue, Volume 63(5), will be available online in November/December 2012. “For this issue, we invited empirical or conceptual manuscripts addressing accountability in teacher education that will move the community forward in considering accountability both more precisely and with greater complexity,” said Knight.

For example, she said, the papers address questions such as: What empirically based accountability measures have been developed for teacher education settings? What makes particular types of evidence more powerful than others in determining accountability in teacher education? What ethical and political questions arise for policy makers, teacher-education programs, and teachers as we attempt to assess program and teacher candidate quality? What are the intended and unintended consequences of teacher-education accountability policies for different stakeholders, such as beginning teachers, mentor teachers, administrators, teacher educators, and higher-education institutions? According to Knight, the Journal of Teacher Education is in a unique position to shape how teacher education and research in teacher education is viewed both within and outside the profession. “The journal’s goal is to bring together the three dimensions of teacher education -- practice, policy, and research -- in challenging and productive ways,” she said. “The theme issue on accountability in teacher education is an example of our endeavors to bring empirical evidence into the conversations of diverse groups about teacher education accountability.” In 2010, the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE), the journal publisher, selected the College as editorial host of the journal through a competitive proposal process.

Gwen Lloyd, professor of education; Fran Arbaugh, associate professor of education; Jackie Edmondson, associate dean of undergraduate and graduate studies; Jim Nolan, professor of education; Scott McDonald, associate professor of education; Anne Whitney, associate professor of education; and Iris Striedieck, assistant professor of education, also are involved with the journal.


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New Book: What’s Your Evidence?

Engaging K–5 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science

The National Research Council’s newly released Framework for K–12 Science Education captures contemporary thinking about the role of core ideas, cross-cutting themes, and scientific practices in science learning. Traditional methods of teaching science have been replaced with an emphasis on engaging students in constructing, applying, and evaluating scientific explanations beginning as early as kindergarten. While new approaches to science teaching engage students in authentic scientific practices and meaningful science learning experiences, it can be challenging for prospective and practicing elementary teachers who have never learned science in this way.

Carla Zembal-Saul, holder of the Kahn professorship in STEM education at Penn State, is coauthor of a newly released book designed to support K–5 teachers in integrating explanation-driven science in their classrooms. What’s Your Evidence? Engaging K–5 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science (Pearson, 2012) examines the importance of scientific explanation in elementary science instruction.

Zembal-Saul’s coauthors are Katherine McNeill, faculty member at Boston College, and Kimber Hershberger, a third-grade teacher at Radio Park Elementary School in the State College (Pa.) Area School District. The authors frame teaching and assessment strategies introduced in the book around a Claims–Evidence–Reasoning (CER) Framework. The goal is to enhance students’ conceptual understanding of science ideas and improve their ability to reason and communicate like scientists. The book introduces teachers to the CER framework, considerations for planning instruction that engages students in talking and writing explanations in science, research-based instructional strategies, and assessment techniques. Samples of student work and video clips from classrooms where teachers are using these approaches provide a vehicle for illustrating the main points from the book in ways that provide images of the possible to teachers. The book’s release follows a five-year research project, headed by Zembal-Saul, that yielded the development of electronic research-based resources to support beginning teachers as they learned to give priority to evidence and explanation in their science teaching. The project, known as TESSA (Teaching Elementary School Science as Argument), was a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER grant is the NSF’s most prestigious award for early-career faculty members. “A major part of TESSA was to design and study the use of video-based cases that highlighted classroom discourse with beginning teachers,” stated Zembal-Saul. “The cases and associated research became the inspiration for the current book because we wanted to share our findings more broadly with teachers and professional development providers in ways that could actually have a positive impact on elementary science teaching.”



Professional Development School:

Research and Practice

Report on Evidence-Based Teacher Preparation

t Prof e s s ion a l D e v el o pm e n t S c ho o l : R e s e a r c h a n d P ractice


or fifteen years, the Penn State College of Education has partnered with the State College Area School District on a professional development school partnership (PDS) that provides a rigorous preservice teaching experience to our students.

PDS interns participate in a year-long student teaching experience in local classrooms. The school district regards these interns as first-year teachers. Interns enjoy participating in professional development experiences along with experienced teachers as they begin to transition from college students to working professionals. In addition to a rigorous teaching experience, PDS students design inquiry projects that they complete over the course of the year. They reflect on this experience with classroom research and present their conclusions at a year-end conference. Working together in classrooms with interns provides professional development for mentor teachers, university faculty members, and doctoral students as they all work together to enhance student learning.

Over the years, the PDS has received a number of national awards and recognitions. Most recently, the program received the 2011 Spirit of Partnership Award at the PDS National Conference. In 2009 it won the National Association for Professional Development School’s inaugural Exemplary Professional Development School Achievement Award. In 2004, it earned the Nancy Zimpher Outstanding School–University Partnership Award, presented by the Holmes Partnership Group. In 2002, the PDS was named the Distinguished Teacher Education Program from the Association of Teacher Educators. Alumni of the PDS program also have been recognized for their teaching. Gail Romig, a 2001 PDS graduate, received a Presidential Teaching Award in 2010. Seven former doctoral students who served as graduate assistants to the PDS have also graduated and established their own recognized professional development schools in the colleges and universities where they now work. According to Jim Nolan, Henry J. Hermanowicz Professor of Education, the PDS, which is the focus of his research, has been quite successful at helping both preservice teachers and veteran teachers.


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Nolan studies various aspects of preservice teacher preparation with particular attention to professional development schools. In one study, Nolan and Kelly Mark, a doctoral student and former PDS intern, conducted a qualitative research study that focused on the work of veteran teachers who mentor preservice teachers within the professional development school partnership. “The work has implications for the preparation of new teachers, for ongoing professional development for veteran teachers, for improvement of university teacher preparation programs, and for the preparation of doctoral-level teacher educators,” said Nolan. “In addition, the findings have the potential to help universities and colleges to recognize the critical role that veteran teacher knowledge should play in the teacher education process.” Nolan’s work also has focused on helping school districts to develop comprehensive systems of differentiated teacher supervision and evaluation that provide ongoing professional development opportunities for novice and veteran teachers. Such opportunities include peer coaching, critical friends groups, lesson study, collegial study groups, and action research. Nolan has also recently published a chapter in a book in which he summarized the research to date on what is known about the effects of professional development school partnerships on the professional development of veteran teachers, school administrators, and university faculty members. “The chapter has implications for all teacher education programs and K-12 schools in terms of how they might maximize the impact of a school-university partnership on veteran educators,” said Nolan.

Center for Evaluation and Education Policy


The College of Education recently announced the creation of the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy Analysis. Ed Fuller, a new associate professor in the educational leadership program, will be director of the Center. The Center will provide evaluation and policy analysis services to organizations and institutions of all sizes, ranging from local schools to the Commonwealth. The Center is available to evaluate all facets of teacher preparation programs in Pennsylvania. For example, the Center is well-positioned to administer and analyze surveys to current or former students as a means of capturing a program’s strengths and weaknesses (as well as meet accreditation and program review requirements) or understanding the conditions under which graduates work. The Center will be staffed to provide a range of services that cover the continuum of quantitative and qualitative methodologies as appropriate for the selected objectives of the evaluation. An example of the type of research from the center is a previous study from Fuller that focused on the certification, certification test scores, preparation, and attrition of teachers in Texas from 1994 through 2012 and examined the completers of traditional undergraduate programs, post-baccalaureate programs, out-of-state programs, emergency permits, and five different types of alternative certification programs (ACPs): university-based, school district, region education service center, community college, and privately-managed programs.

Several conclusions about production were reached. First, the pipeline of teachers obtaining certification through emergency permits essentially stopped after the introduction of No Child Left Behind and production shifted to alternative certification programs, particularly private programs. Second, while the majority of teachers in the 1990s obtained certification through traditional undergraduate programs, production shifted rapidly in the early 2000s until the majority of teachers were prepared by through ACPs. Third, by 2012, the largest type of ACP was privately managed programs. With respect to certification test scores, test-takers from privately managed and community college ACPs had statistically significantly lower certification scores in 11 of the 12 major test areas, even after controlling for the personal characteristics of the test-takers. Self-reports from programs indicated that privately-managed programs provided the fewest hours of preservice preparation while undergraduate-based programs required completion of the most hours. Finally, the study found that ACP teachers—particularly those from privately managed programs—were more likely to leave the profession within three years of their first teaching experience than teachers from traditional undergraduate programs. This was true even after controlling for the personal characteristics of the teachers and the characteristics of the school. Fuller comes to Penn State from the University of Texas at Austin where he worked as a special research associate, adjunct faculty member, and education consultant. He also worked as a policy consultant to the Texas Legislature on a number of issues, including helping review and modify the state’s revised accountability system for teacher preparation programs. He also worked as a consultant for numerous teacher preparation programs in Texas, primarily by evaluating preparation efficacy, production, placement, and attrition of graduates.


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Bernard Badiali, associate professor of education and director of the PDS, is interested in a particular aspect of teacher education: co-teaching. According to Badiali, the ideal environment for co-teaching is a professional development school.

“Professional development schools have the potential to be an effective arrangement for preparing a teacher candidate to enter the profession and for eliminating some of the snags and pitfalls associated with traditional student teaching,” said Badiali. In his most recent published paper, Badiali and co-author Nicole Titus describe six models of co-teaching, including “mentor modeling”; “one teach, one guide”; “station teaching”; “parallel teaching”; “alternative teaching”; and “synchronous teaching.” He also gives examples of how these models may contribute to student learning in a professional development school. For example, regarding the “mentor modeling” model, he writes that when a novice intentionally watches a master teacher work, she can begin to understand how to interact with children more effectively while delivering the curriculum. Likewise, when a veteran teacher observes a novice work, she can get a sense for which teaching behaviors are effective and which strategies need further development. When both experience co-teaching the same lesson, the pair can then have an important reflective conversation about the effects of teaching strategies on the learning of the children. “Co-teaching not only benefits teaching interns and mentors, it benefits students as well,” said Badiali. “The implementation of these models will significantly augment classroom learning for students and their teachers.”

In addition to investigating various co-teaching methods, Badiali also wrote and directed a documentary titled, “A Good Place to Learn,” that chronicled the operation of a PDS partnership with Miami University and the Madeira City Schools. The video has been used to train K-12 educators and college professors who are beginning PDS partnerships in other locations.



David H. Monk, Dean College of Education The Pennsylvania State University 274 Chambers Building University Park, PA 16802 (814) 865-2526 For publication information of research presented here, email

Editor: Suzanne Wayne Writer: Sara LaJeunesse Photographers: Paul Hazi, Mark Houser,

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Report on Evidence-Based Teacher Preparation  

Report on research and activities from the College of Education centered around evidence-based teacher preparation.

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