Effective organizations use evidence-based quality assurance systems and data in a process of continuous improvement. These systems and data-based continuous improvement are essential foundational requirements for effective implementation of any of the three CAEP accreditation pathways an educator preparation provider (EPP) chooses—whether it is the Inquiry Brief, Continuous Improvement, or Transformational Initiative pathway.

A robust quality assurance system ensures continuous improvement by relying on a variety of measures, establishing performance benchmarks for those measures (with reference to external standards where possible), seeking the views of all relevant stakeholders, sharing evidence widely with both internal and external audiences, and using results to improve policies and practices in consultation with partners and stakeholders.[i]

The quality of an EPP is measured by the abilities of its completers to have a positive impact on P-12 student learning and development.[ii] Program quality and improvement are determined, in part, by characteristics of candidates that the provider recruits to the field; the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions that candidates bring to and acquire during the program; the relationships between the provider and the P-12 schools in which candidates receive clinical training; and subsequent evidence of completers’ impact on P-12 student learning and development in schools where they ultimately teach.[iii] To be accredited, a preparation program must meet standards on each of these dimensions and demonstrate success in its own continuous improvement efforts.

Effective quality assurance systems function through a clearly articulated and effective process for defining and assuring quality outcomes. Reasons for the selection of each measure and the establishment of performance benchmarks for individual and program performance, including external points of comparison, are made clear. Providers show evidence of the credibility and dependability of the data that inform their quality assurance systems, as well as evidence of ongoing investigation into the quality of evidence and the validity of their interpretations of that evidence. Providers must present empirical evidence of each measure’s psychometric and statistical soundness (reliability, validity, and fairness).[iv]

Continuous improvement systems enable programs quickly to develop and test prospective improvements, deploy what is learned throughout the organization, and add to the profession’s knowledge base and repertoire of practice.[v] CAEP should encourage providers to develop new models for evaluating and scaling up effective solutions. Research and development in the accreditation framework can deepen the knowledge of existing best practices and provide models of emerging innovations to transform educator preparation.[vi]

[i] Ruben, B. R. (2010).Excellence in higher education guide. An integrated approach to assessment, planning, and improvement in colleges and universities. Washington, D.C.: National Association of College and University Business Officers. Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. (2011). 2011-2012 Education criteria for performance excellence. Gaithersburg, MD: Author.
[ii] The use of “development” is based on InTASC’s Standard #1: Learner Development. The teacher understands how learners grow and develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas, and designs and implements developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences.
[iii] NRC. (2010). Bransford, J., Darling-Hammond, L., & Lepage, P. (2005). In L. Darling-Hammond, & J. Bransford (Eds.), Preparing teachers for a changing world. What teachers should learn and be able to do (pp. 1- 39). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Zeichner, K. M., & Conklin, H. G. (2005). Teacher education programs. In M. Cochran-Smith, & K. M. Zeichner (Eds.), Studying teacher education (pp. 645-735). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. NCATE. (2010).
[iv] Ewell, P. (2012). Recent trends and practices in accreditation: Implications for the development of standards for CAEP. Washington, DC: CAEP.
[v] Langley G.L., Nolan K.M., Nolan T.W., Norman C.L. & Provost L.P. (2009). The improvement guide: A practical approach to enhancing organizational performance (2nd ed). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
[vi] Bryk, A.S., Gomez, L.M. & Grunow, A. (2010). Getting ideas into action: Building networked improvement communities in education, Stanford, CA: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Essay retrieved from http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/spotlight/webinar-bryk-gomez-building-networked-improvement-communities-in-education