Teacher quality has been one of the most hotly debated education policy issues over the past ten years. Central to the discussions are strategies to align teacher education and professional development programs at colleges and universities with the reform of K-12 education.
In many states, public officials have joined K-12 and postsecondary education leaders to restructure teacher preparation and professional development programs under the auspices of statewide K-16 initiatives. And yet, according to a national commission on teaching, America is still a very long way from realizing that future.
Colleges and universities often have been criticized for contributing to the deficiencies of K-12 schools. Year in and year out, schools of education produce graduates who staff the great majority of our nation’s classrooms, with usually significant prowess. At the same time, schools of education are assigned much of the blame for all that is imperfect or lacking in K-12. Common sense suggests that there is plenty of blame to go around and that schools of education can only do what their profession and their universities permit them to do. That said, much stands in the way of their becoming what they must be to produce uniformly excellent teachers for reformed high-performance schools.
It is disappointing that higher education in general has had so little involvement in the contemporary school reform initiatives, thus, begging the question of the relationship of higher education to the K-12 enterprise and the consequences thereof for teacher education.
Work in the states is being supported by a number of national initiatives aimed at reforming the teaching profession, from recruitment to initial preparation, to the transition of the beginning years of teaching, and throughout continuing professional development. These national blueprints for achieving quality in teacher education serve to involve interested states as partners in the design and implementation of effective strategies and programs.
This policy brief will examine state-level strategies aimed at incorporating quality teacher education and professional development programs as part of new state K-16 or P-16 systems. It includes analyses of critical components that contribute to the success of the initiatives. The brief concludes with suggestions of what more could be done to strengthen the preparation and development of quality teachers within states’ P-16 paradigms.
The new initiative has identified five goals:
- To improve student achievement from preschool through postsecondary educa-tion;
- To help students move smoothly from one education system to another;
- To ensure that all students who enter postsecondary education are prepared to succeed;
- To increase access and success of all students in postsecondary education, especially from minority and low income groups;
- To focus reform of all education organizations on practices that result in children and youth meeting high academic standards.
The last goal focuses specifically on the co-reform of teacher education, advanced educator preparation programs, and public schools toward practices that result in all children meeting high academic standards. To direct the goal of co-reform, the initiative is formed around a statewide P-16 council and several local and regional P-16 councils. These local and regional councils are voluntary groups representing P-16 educators and the broader local communities that collaborate and promote changes in public P-16 education systems. It is important to note that local P-16 councils make recommendations that are advanced to the state P-16 council and then forwarded to the proper authorities and governing boards at the preschool, K-12, adult education, and university system level. P-16 councils are not government structures and they have no authority in policy or in law.
Leadership is critical to the successful establishment of P-16 as a statewide priority. Early work of the teachers resulted in:
– An over-all framework for change;
– Recommendations to increase the availability of alternative teacher preparation programs and to strengthen traditional programs;
– Completion of the state status report of each of the following recommen-dations:
- Establish standards for both students and teachers,
- Enhance teacher preparation and professional development,
- Put a qualified teacher in every classroom,
- Encourage and reward knowledge and skills,
- Create schools that are genuine learning organizations.
– Develop standards of what students should know and be able to do.
– Develop assessments of student progress from preschool through postsecondary education.
– Design rigorous quality curriculum.
– Create quality teacher education programs and initiatives.
- The university system will guarantee the quality of any teacher that graduates.
- The university system will guarantee that all of its graduates in early childhood education can demonstrate accomplishment in teaching children to read and to do mathematics.
- The university system will assure that graduates of its programs for school leaders and counselors are able to create learning environments that support teacher success in bringing students from diverse groups to high levels of learning.
- Teacher preparation programs will be the shared responsibility of education faculty, arts and sciences faculty, and classroom teachers in the schools.
- All teacher preparation programs will implement aggressive recruitment policies to increase the numbers, to raise the caliber, and to expand the diversity of teacher candidates and to balance supply and demand.
- The university system will expand the number of teacher certification programs offered to individuals who already hold bachelor’s degrees from accredited colleges in order to increase opportunities for individuals seeking second career teaching.
- The university system will encourage institutions that prepare teachers to give added emphasis to policies that support the efforts of faculty to model effective teaching, to focus their research on ways to improve classroom teaching and student learning within P-12 schools, and to support increased participation of teacher preparation faculty in the public schools.
Once the regents approved these principles, guidelines for implementation will be developed including key elements, principles, and actions. Implementation of the reviewed programs and practices to meet the full intent of these principles and actions will be phased in throughout the university system.
The overall direction of this policy is to shift from a primary focus on inputs (courses, credit hours, and number of clock hours of internships in schools) to results (teacher, counselor, and administrator candidates able to bring about increased learning of children in schools). However, we recognize that both inputs and teacher and administrative performance are critical to policy effectiveness. Thus, aspects of this policy emphasize courses and credit hours required, as well as performance by focusing on what a candidate must know and be able to do. The primary result of this state initiative will be that all those recommended for teacher certification will have the knowledge and skills necessary to increase the academic achievement levels of diverse groups of students.
The future education of all teachers has a four-part agenda:
- To set clear and consistent expectations for student learning.
- To provide effective teacher training and professional development.
- To eliminate barriers and redundancy between schools and colleges.
- To provide incentives for collaboration among segments at the local levels to raise student achievement.
Key to this initiative is the new licensure regulation aimed at certifying and re-certifying highly qualified teachers and reforming teacher education. The initiative has many thrusts, including:
- Strengthening the undergraduate preparation of teachers with an increased emphasis on providing a solid foundation in academic disciplines.
- Providing school-based professional training in professional development schools.
- Offering multiple paths to teacher certification.
- Linking teacher training with school priorities and reform initiatives.
- Re-examining teacher certification and licensing policies.
- Developing accountability and assessment throughout teacher education programs and the continuing professional development of teachers.
- The state should provide incentive funds to accelerate the implementation of the “Redesign” through activities such as the development of performance-based assessments, rewards for K-16 faculty, accreditation of teacher education programs, and the development of continuing professional development for all K-16 educators.
- Higher education teacher preparation programs should receive national accreditation
- Initial teacher certification should include performance-based assessments measuring knowledge in academic areas and pedagogy.
- Students entering teacher preparation programs should complete an extensive student teaching internship in a professional development school.
- Local school systems should provide career-long professional development, improved student learning, local school system goals, and the individual school’s improvement plan.
- The business community should provide visible and active leadership and advocacy for K-16 professional development.
- The higher education faculty reward structure should fully credit participation in the reform of K-16 education.
- Additional resources should be targeted for schools that work primarily with underserved children.
In developing its recommendations, the design team adopted a broad view of professional development and its role in education reform. From this perspective, professional development requires partnerships among schools, higher education institutions, and other appropriate entities to enable teachers to develop further expertise in subject content, teaching strategies, uses of technologies, and other central elements in teaching to high standards. Further, professional development must be accessible statewide as part of the effort to improve and integrate the recruitment, selection, preparation, initial licensing, induction, ongoing development and support, and the advanced certification of educators. Finally, according to the design team, professional development should be evaluated based on its impact on teacher effectiveness and student learning, and this assessment should be used as a guide for subsequent professional development efforts. This comprehensive set of recommendations builds on and reflects the perceived continuum of teacher development and linkages with state policy-making bodies already underway in the state.
In order to examine the state agenda and contribute to the national reform, the proposal is organized around the continuum of teacher professional development. The strategy includes the following components:
Recruitment: A study has been recommended on teacher recruitment to answer the question of why the state imports teachers in high demand areas while overproducing educators in other teaching areas.
Teacher preparation: Increasing the number of institutions with nationally accredited teacher education programs is a priority. Furthermore, the state is focused on institutionalizing professional development schools in colleges and universities. Measurable outcomes include the extent to which are included in institutional language on long-range planning and have effectively engaged their K-12 partners.
Teacher accountability: There are recommendations that the School Report be expanded to include issues of teacher quality, including attendance, licensure, assignment consistency.
Teacher induction: A review has been recommended of the continuing professional development of teachers during the entry years and the degree to which can assist in documenting and disseminating effective strategies for assisting beginning teachers. Beginning teacher support is a statewide priority.
Licensing and certification: There is a continuing focus on upgrading certification with assessment by setting high scores on Praxis tests developed by the Education Testing Service (ETS), using the new standards as models for state performance assessments, minimizing the “credit count” route to licensure, and minimizing the use of emergency certificates.
Megan Wilson is a teacher, life strategist, successful entrepreneur, inspirational keynote speaker and founder of https://Ebookscheaper.com. Megan champions a radical rethink of our school systems; she calls on educators to teach both intuition and logic to cultivate creativity and create bold thinkers.