Over the past several years, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has engaged in work with state and national partners to transform Connecticut’s system for the approval and oversight of educator preparation provider (EPP) programs. To guide this work, the Connecticut State Board of Education (SBE) adopted a definition for a “learner-ready” teacher who is prepared to meet the academic needs of all students day one in the classroom and developed six core areas for reform to focus the work.
This on-going work continues to be supported in part through grant monies from the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform (CEEDAR) Center, funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). CEEDAR is a technical assistance grant program designed to build the capacity of educator preparation systems to prepare teachers and leaders to implement evidence-based practices within multi-tiered systems of support, with a specific focus on ensuring that students with disabilities, struggling learners and English learners receive rigorous, research-based instruction from all teachers.
Connecticut’s CEEDAR work began in 2013, when Connecticut was just one of five states to receive a grant from the CEEDAR Center. Connecticut EPP and K-12 district teams have used CEEDAR support to focus on innovation and change required to build and maintain powerful and impactful partnerships that will support the professional learning of educators, from pre-service training to beginning teacher induction. The work to date completed by EPP and district partner teams since Connecticut began its CEEDAR partnership is described below, including links to tools that EPPs and districts can use to support their own partnership work.
CEEDAR 1.0: Re-Thinking Clinical Practice Opportunities (2013-2018)
In 2013, CEEDAR began working with Connecticut on the development and scaling up of reform efforts focused on ensuring that teacher candidates are engaged in practice-based clinical experiences and trained around evidence-based strategies prior to student teaching. From 2013 to 2017, Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) and Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) developed and piloted a methodology for analyzing and reforming teacher preparation curricula and clinical experiences to ensure that teacher candidates receive training in evidence-based practices in literacy (reading and writing) and culturally responsive teaching. This important work culminated in a guidance document for EPPs and districts, which served as the cornerstone for scale up efforts during 2017-2018 (CEEDAR 1.5) involving seven Connecticut EPPs and their partner districts:
- Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU)/Windham Public Schools
- Central Connecticut State University (CCSU)/New Britain Public Schools
- Fairfield University/Bridgeport Public Schools
- Sacred Heart University/Bridgeport Public Schools
- Sacred Heart University/Bridgeport Public Schools
- Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU)/Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES) Public Schools
- University of Bridgeport/Bridgeport Public Schools
- Western Connecticut State University (WCSU)/Danbury Public Schools
The guidance document is designed to assist EPPs and districts partnering in the preparation of teacher candidates in developing a common vocabulary and an informed method of planning clinical experiences that are aligned, carefully sequenced, and grounded in evidence-based practices, including defining the roles and responsibilities of those most involved in developing the next generation of teachers. To support your EPP and district partnership work, you can access the guidance document: Developing Quality Fieldwork Experiences for Teacher Candidates: A Planning Guide for Educator Preparation Programs and District Partners
An additional highlight from the Connecticut CEEDAR 1.0 work was the September 2017 regional conference featuring faculty and candidates from Connecticut EPP programs highlighting notable accomplishments in teacher preparation based on the first phase of CEEDAR work. Nationally renowned educators, Deborah Lowenberg Ball, former Dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan, and Kenneth Zeichner, Professor at the University of Washington, were keynote presenters at the conference. The conference also served as a kick-off event for scaling up Connecticut’s CEEDAR 1.0 work to EPPs statewide. Read more about Research-to-Practice in Teacher Preparation: Learner Ready Day One.
CEEDAR 2.0: Using Data Driven Decision-Making To Support Teacher Professional Development (2018-2021)
We know that powerful EPP and district partnerships support the professional learning of beginning teachers from pre-service training to district induction. We also recognize that the success of EPP and district partnerships depends in part upon solid knowledge and common understanding that comes from reviewing and analyzing information from key data sources for identifying areas for improvement and potential innovation. During 2018-2021, Connecticut’s CEEDAR work capitalized on two Connecticut initiatives connecting pre-service training to beginning teacher induction for creating a data driven decision-making methodology to guide and support change efforts.
edTPA, a national, performance-based, subject-specific assessment for measuring pedagogical knowledge and skills, is an EPP program completion requirement in Connecticut for teacher candidates during student teaching. Aligned with national standards for the teaching profession (InTASC, NBPTS, Danielson’s framework) and the Connecticut Common Core of Teaching (CCT), edTPA is intended to be educative, so that candidates and programs can use assessment evidence to support decisions about next steps for practice. The Connecticut Teacher and Education Mentoring (TEAM) program is a unique, two-year induction program for new teachers that includes mentorship and professional learning. Like edTPA, TEAM performance requirements, described in a comprehensive Performance Profile, align with those described in the Connecticut Common Core of Teaching (CCT) for educators, providing a through line from pre-service to induction. Additionally, this connection provides an opportunity for Connecticut EPP faculty and district educators to coalesce around a common set of professional learning goals for teachers in training.
Over the course of a series of workshops, Connecticut EPP and district partnership teams collaborated on developing and piloting a data driven decision-making methodology using edTPA and TEAM data, and other EPP and district data, for identifying strengths and areas for improvement for teachers in training, from pre-service to in-service induction. Teams included:
- Central Connecticut State University (CCSU)/West Hartford Public Schools
- Fairfield University/Bridgeport Public Schools
- Sacred Heart University/Griswold Public Schools
- Western Connecticut State University (WCSU)/Danbury Public Schools.
The tools developed during this phase of Connecticut’s CEEDAR work and described below can be used by EPPs and partner districts as part of a larger, multiple methods system for triangulating information to more accurately identify professional learning needs and strategize next steps for intervention and change.
ProGap Analysis Tool
The ProGap Analysis Tool serves to link multiple sources of pre-service assessment evidence with induction professional learning goal-setting for beginning teachers. Serving as an important bridge between in-service training and induction, the ProGap Analysis Tool consists of three parts.
Part I of the ProGap Analysis Tool supports teacher candidates who have completed student teaching and edTPA in reviewing edTPA results and other sources of pre-service evidence (e.g., student teaching evaluation data) with EPP faculty mentors and clinical supervisors. Candidates record strengths and potential areas for improvement in the ProGap Part I, for establishing specific goals for the professional learning work they will pursue while participating in the TEAM program with their assigned mentors.
Part II of the ProGap Analysis Tool supports beginning teachers and TEAM mentors in using the analysis of strengths and areas for growth documented in Part I to identify specific professional learning goals for TEAM work, including determining the supports needed to pursue these goals. In conjunction with the TEAM CCT Performance Profile, beginning teachers and TEAM mentors are encouraged to use edTPA’s subject-specific rubrics and their five-level scale as a guide to planning for learning, also aligned with the CCT. Because edTPA’s five-level rubric scale represents the full range from “not quite ready” to more advanced practices for beginners, the middle and upper levels of the rubric progressions can be used thoughtfully for goal-setting into the first years of the professional lives of teachers.
Part III of the ProGap Analysis Tool encourages beginning teachers who have completed the TEAM program to collaborate with their TEAM mentors to reflect upon growth during TEAM, including the impact their efforts may have had on student achievement and how growth areas aligned with school/district professional development expectations.
edTPA Gap Analysis Tool
The edTPA Gap Analysis Tool can be used by EPP and district partners to review edTPA data on an annual basis to identify teacher candidates’ performance strengths and areas for improvement. The edTPA Gap Analysis Tool also requires EPP and district partner teams to consider where across EPP curricula and clinical experience opportunities that pre-service preparation training gaps might exist or pre-service training may need to be strengthened, as indicated by edTPA performance patterns.
TEAM Survey Data Gap Analysis Tool
Understanding which professional learning areas that beginning teachers struggle with during TEAM is critical to strengthening district support for new teachers, as well as improving the alignment of pre-service and induction training and professional learning. However, acquiring data associated with TEAM performance that would provide insight into new teacher learning challenges required some re-thinking, due to the TEAM Program’s design to engage beginning teachers in purposeful exploration of professional practice through guided support and personal reflection rather than an evaluative assessment. TEAM requires that beginning teachers engage in short-term instructional modules and document evidence of their progress in a culminating reflection paper or project that describes their development of new learning, change in practice, and positive impacts on students. During this time, mentors provide on-going support and formative feedback to assist their novices in improving practice and student outcomes aligned to their identified TEAM module goals. Due to the nature of the TEAM program, as expected, an initial analysis of module attempt data indicated very little variability across teachers.
The answer to this dilemma was a two-fold win for Connecticut EPPs. All beginning educators enrolled in TEAM now complete a small block of survey questions aligned with each of the five TEAM modules before beginning their module work. Each block of questions solicits information regarding the training that the new teachers received in their EPP programs. Specifically, for each of the survey statements, new teachers are asked the extent to which they agree that their preparation program coursework and/or clinical experiences provided them with sufficient opportunities to learn the described competencies. Analysis of these feedback data yield a rich understanding of how prepared new teachers perceive themselves to be relative to key training areas described in the Connecticut Common Core of Teaching (CCT). Using survey data, the TEAM Survey Data Gap Analysis Tool can be used by EPP faculty and K-12 district partners to identify new teachers’ perceived areas of strength and areas for improvement, in order to improve district support of new teachers and identify gaps in pre-service preparation. Additionally, Connecticut EPPs can use the feedback captured by the TEAM survey to meet data requirements for national accreditation through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Action Planning Tool
A final tool developed by CEEDAR 2.0 EPP and district partner teams is the Action Planning Tool. This tool supports EPP and districts partners in the development of specific action planning based on gap analysis information documented in the edTPA Gap Analysis Tool and the TEAM Survey Data Gap Analysis Tool, as well as other relevant EPP and district data. The Action Planning Tool requires EPP and district partners to prioritize planning based on the criticality of identified “gap” areas. Action plans for addressing the gap areas need to consist of specific activities and timelines; roles and responsibilities of both EPP faculty and district educators; resources and leadership support required to achieve goals; and EPP/district communication methods to ensure that plans are executed.
Here is a sample timeline for using all tools described above:
|TOOL||WHO USES?||WHEN?||FOR WHAT PURPOSE?|
|ProGap Analysis Tool||Teacher candidates supported by their EPP mentor(s), student teaching supervisor, and cooperating teacher.||Upon completion of the student teaching experience.||
Support teacher candidates in identifying strengths and areas for improvement.
Support new teachers in establishing specific goals for the professional learning work they will pursue while participating in the TEAM program with their assigned mentors.
Support new teachers in reflecting upon growth during TEAM, including the impact their efforts may have had on student achievement and how growth areas aligned with school/district professional development expectations.
|edTPA Gap Analysis Tool||EPP and Partner District Teams||Annually at the end of each academic year.||
To Identify patterns of candidate performance strengths and areas with which candidates seem to be struggling.
Identify pre-service preparation training gaps and/or areas for improvement.
|TEAM Survey Data Gap Analysis Tool||EPP and Partner District Teams||Annually at the end of each academic year.||Identify new teachers’ perceived areas of strength and areas for improvement, in order to improve district support of new teachers and identify gaps and/or areas for improvement in pre-service preparation.|
|Action Planning Tool||EPP and Partner District Teams||Annually at the end of each academic year (after the edTPA Gap Analysis and TEAM Survey Data Gap Analysis tools have been completed).||
Prioritize planning based on the criticality of identified “gap” areas and/or areas for improvement.
Develop specific activities and timelines; roles and responsibilities of both EPP faculty and district educators; resources and leadership support required to achieve goals; and EPP/district communication methods to ensure that plans are executed.
CEEDAR 2.0 Addendum: COVID Pivot
During 2020-2021, COVID-19 threw a curve ball into Connecticut’s CEEDAR work, requiring EPP/district work teams to modify clinical experience guidelines, expectations, and district communications to support teacher candidates and districts grappling with how to facilitate student learning in a virtual learning environment.
On March 8, 2021, the CSDE invited all Connecticut EPP clinical/fieldwork directors and district facilitators to participate in a virtual workshop for an opportunity to hear “CEEDAR stories” about innovative new methods the CEEDAR EPP and K-12 district partnership teams were using to surmount challenges presented by virtual teaching. Additionally, workshop participants were invited to brainstorm ideas and build solutions around how teachers in training can support district student learning goals through various clinical and fieldwork experiences. You can hear about some of the innovative strategies CEEDAR EPP and district partners developed and implemented to support teacher candidates in training and students’ virtual learning in the recorded meeting.
Access Passcode: CTeducatorpartners2021!