From The Psychology Times, Vol 3, No 3
– S. Booth, Times’ Intern
Last December, The Times talked with Dr. George Noell about his ongoing project, the value-added Teacher Preparation Program Assessment Model. Teacher effectiveness has become an important topic in the national debate because of continued focus at state and national levels for greater accountability and productivity in all areas of government.
Recently we had the chance to chat with Dr. Noell again about the current status of the project, and his innovative work with predictive models on a statewide scale, a program that was discussed at the Board of Regents meeting in September.
Dr. Noell is a school psychology professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, a licensed school psychologist with clinical experience, and an expert in multivariate statistics.
Louisiana’s teacher preparation program assessment is the product of the combined efforts of Dr. Noell, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Louisiana Department of Education, and the various teacher preparation institutions around the state.
The purpose of the value- added Teacher Preparation Program Assessment Model is to acquire information about the impact of new teachers in Louisiana on students. Dr. Noell described the program as a “forward looking” effort to strengthen teacher preparation programs so that future graduates of the programs continue to improve from previous years.
Through the investigation of both new teachers in the public school system and the teachers’ institutions from which they got their degrees, Dr. Noell devised a method to assess the quality of training that teachers are receiving. This type of assessment has allowed him and his team to develop a way to objectively score the teacher preparation institutions on the effectiveness of new teachers they recommend for certification.
According to Dr. Noell, the program, which started operating over 4 years ago, is continuously undergoing adjustments and improvements to help the teacher preparation institutions provide the best education that they can to the students in the public school system. Furthermore, Dr. Noell mentioned that although it takes time to see the results of his and his teams’ efforts to improve the quality of teacher preparation, results have improved for programs that made the earliest programmatic revisions based on outcome data.
Dr. Noell told the Times that one of the best decisions that he made on this project was to include and work with the community members who are directly involved in this program, specifically those at the teacher preparation institutions. By talking and working with those at the prep institutions, he said that he feels that his program was able to obtain the “buy in” and support needed to meaningfully impact results.
Although Dr. Noell and the value-added Teacher Preparation Program Assessment Model have received national recognition, including an article in the New York Times, one of the biggest impacts to date is the adoption of programs like this in other states around the nation, he noted. Several states are in the process of implementing their own teacher preparation assessment. Colleagues in Tennessee, Washington and North Carolina have already released parallel reports, while officials in other states are working toward the first release of their teacher assessment program in the near future.
When asked how he felt about his project being replicated in other states, Dr. Noell said that he is nervous. “You want it to be right,” he said, explaining that since the project has reached the national level, he simply wants to ensure that the work is sound and productive. It is especially important because the potential implications at this level are very high, he said.
Despite these concerns, Dr. Noell is optimistic because the work in Louisiana is a collaborative effort across many institutions and colleagues that was cautiously developed over time.
(Suzanne Booth, MA, is an IO graduate student at LSU, and Psychology Times’ Intern.)