The letter below to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education was written by Dr. Paula White, previous Chair of Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Education, and was signed by all the department faculty.
June 19, 2020
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
1307 New York Ave.
NW Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20005-4701
Dear Dr. Gangone,
We write to you as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE); we are the Education Department at Ohio Wesleyan University.
In your President’s Message – June 2020, you indicate that AACTE used its platform as a national association to speak out about systemic racism and that it is our job to do that as educators. As white antiracist educators, we believe we must do more than speak out—we must take action. We humbly request that AACTE use its power and platform as a national association to challenge the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) policy that requires teacher education programs use standardized measures, e.g. ACT/SAT/Praxis CORE exams, as a measure of academic proficiency when determining admission to teacher education programs.
Our University, as did many other colleges and universities, has made a commitment to antiracism and has taken the action to be a “test optional” institution. While many Ivy League institutions have become “test optional” for the current cycle of admissions mainly because the test centers were closed by the COVID-19 pandemic, OWU committed to being “test optional” for its future. In an email to faculty, staff and students, President Rock Jones, cited what we, as teacher educators, have long known:
The Education Department applauds and supports the University’s action. Yet, CAEP Standard 3.2 will require us to require that applicants to the teacher education program provide us evidence of their academic proficiency as measured by either one of the above standardized measures, or by a department designed and developed equivalent measure of academic proficiency. An “equivalent” measure is defined in terms of the measure being reliable and valid, even though the validity of the ACT/SAT scores themselves is questionable., ,  The requirement for establishing the reliability and validity of an “equivalent” measure may be realistic at larger state institutions, but is clearly outside the scope of realistic for a department consisting of four full-time faculty. The requirement of providing an equivalent measure of academic proficiency serves to silence the discussion around a policy that is presented as race-neutral yet has a disproportionate impact on teacher education candidates of color and working-class candidates. We know that the teaching profession is composed of predominantly white, middle-class, monolingual educators and that the world in which they will teach is not made up of students who will look like them or that have the same lived experiences as these white, middle-class educators. Robin DiAngelo in her keynote speech at the annual AACTE Conference (February 2020) indicated that now was the time to interrupt the system of racism in education. DiAngelo stated, “All of our institutions effectively and efficiently reproduce racial inequality and schools are the bellies of the beast.”
The Education Department at Ohio Wesleyan University is no longer willing to forge forward without challenging this racist and classist policy. The OWU Education Department also recognizes that we lack the political power to change CAEP’s policy; however, AACTE does have the political power. AACTE with its national constituents is a voice at the CAEP table. We are asking you, on behalf of all those without a voice at the table, especially our teacher education candidates and PK-12 students, to use your national voice as a platform to not only speak-out about systemic racism; but to engage in “courageous change!”
We look forward to continuing this dialogue and creating change in the national accreditation standards that shape teacher education.
Ohio Wesleyan Teacher Education Program
Paula M. White, Ph.D.
Ella Faye Schaaf Rodefer Chair of Education
Professor of Education
Director, Middle Childhood Teacher Education
Sarah J. Kaka, Ph.D.
Director, Adolescent to Young Adult and Multiage Teacher Education
Michele Nobel, Ph.D.
Director, Special Education Teacher Education
Jennifer Lisy, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Elementary and Literacy Teacher Education