Measuring quality in initial teacher in the Scottish context : a context-specific endeavour

Kennedy, Aileen and Adams, Paul and Carver, Mark; Mayer, Diane, ed. (2021) Measuring quality in initial teacher in the Scottish context : a context-specific endeavour. In: Teacher Education Policy and Research. Springer Singapore, Singapore, pp. 159-176. ISBN 9789811637759

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This chapter outlines the genesis, development and findings to-date from a collaborative research project in Scotland entitled 'Measuring Quality in Initial Teacher Education' (MQuITE).  MQuITE is a six-year, Scottish Government-funded project involving all 11 initial teacher education (ITE) providers, together with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). It is framed around two research questions:1. How can quality in ITE be measured in a Scottish, context-appropriate way? 2. What does this measuring tell us about aspects of quality in different ITE routes in Scotland? The chapter charts the development of the MQuITE project in relation to the wider teacher education policy context in Scotland. After a long period of relative conservatism and homogeneity in Scottish ITE (Hulme & Menter, 2013; Rae & MacDonald, 2018), the publication of the 'Teaching Scotland's Future' Report (Donaldson, 2011) saw significant change in primary undergraduate programmes, followed quickly by increasing public scrutiny of ITE driven primarily, but not exclusively, by recruitment concerns in some subjects and some geographical areas. This was accompanied by an invitation from the Cabinet Minister for Education to ITE providers to propose a series of 'new and innovative' routes which would help to address a range of concerns, including: an attempt to solve the recruitment crisis quickly; attempts at addressing longer-term cultural and structural changes in teaching and teacher education; and the challenge of recruiting and retaining a more diverse and representative teacher workforce. This period of rapid change, accompanied by significant investment of resources, was not, however, accompanied by any strategic plans to research the impact of such changes. Hence, the MQuITE project was proposed – an endeavour that would not only seek to identify quality in ITE, but would involve all ITE providers in the process, thereby including a significant capacity-building element. Of central importance in the scoping of the project was the need to develop a context-appropriate way of identifying quality in ITE in Scotland. While other models exist elsewhere, they tend to adopt a performative focus, using externally imposed rubrics which seek to measure quality in a quantitative and pseudo-scientific way, for example the 'value added models' popular in many US states (Chetty et al., 2011). The chapter outlines our approach to developing a culturally congruent, and context-specific framework. We draw on Appadurai's (1996) concept of 'vernacular globalisation' in seeking to understand and explain the intertwined influences of both the global meta-narrative and the local historical, cultural and social context on the development of teacher education policy in Scotland. These global and local influences (see Hulme & Kennedy, 2016) are explored in the chapter, and provide a backdrop for the discussion on how quality ITE is currently understood in Scotland, both formally through professional and academic quality assurance processes, and informally through discourse and practice. We then go on to share some highlights from findings to-date in the MQuITE project, focusing on the extent to which these markers of quality can be compared with other national and international data sets, as well as sharing data which either support or refute the public narrative on ITE in Scotland. We conclude the chapter with a commentary on other research relevant to the Scottish context, finishing with the articulation of a number of important issues which, we argue, warrant further research.