Beyond “best practices”: Centering equity in teacher preparation evaluation




teacher preparation, teacher education, evaluation, assessment, accountability, equity


Over the last decade, there have been multiple recommendations for evaluating, assessing, or holding teacher preparation accountable. This article analyzes recent policy proposals regarding “best practices for evaluating teacher preparation programs” by critiquing 19 major reports explicitly focused on evaluation. The analysis revealed that the reports’ primary goal was identifying preferred evaluation metrics using rigorous criteria for accuracy and utility. The majority of reports did not position equity as a central goal of evaluation and actually said little about equity explicitly, although some assumed equity was a by-product of rigorous evaluation systems. Building on previous efforts to focus on equity in teacher education, the article advocates an equity-centered approach to teacher preparation evaluation that acknowledges long-standing inequities in educational opportunity and attainment in the United States. Rejecting the idea of “best practices,” which are by definition decontextualized and inattentive to local contexts, the article offers 11 guiding principles for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners, to make strong equity the center of evaluation. These recommendations include: making equity an explicit goal during the entire process of evaluation and working at a systems/structural level; utilizing assessment models and tools that focus on equity; including all stakeholders, especially those from the minoritized communities served by programs, in decisions about evaluation criteria; and, supporting internal professional accountability.


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Author Biographies

Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Boston College

Marilyn Cochran-Smith is the Cawthorne Professor of Teacher Education at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College, USA. Her research interests include practitioner inquiry and teacher education research, practice and policy with a focus on social justice and equity. Over 40 years, she has written 10 books and more than 200 articles, chapters, and editorials; her awards include the 2020 Best Book Award from AACTE and the AERA/Division K 2019 Distinguished Contributions to Research award and the 2018 Legacy Award for lifetime achievement.

Emilie Reagan, Claremont Graduate University

Emilie Mitescu Reagan is an associate professor in the Claremont Graduate University School of Educational Studies. Her research interests include justice-oriented teacher education policy and practice. Her research primarily employs quantitative and mixed methods.




How to Cite

Cochran-Smith, M., & Reagan, E. (2022). Beyond “best practices”: Centering equity in teacher preparation evaluation. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (66).