Nov. 16, 2010
Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones Leads NCATE Call For Overhaul Of Teacher Preparation Programs
A national panel composed of education experts and critics today called for teacher education to be “turned upside down” by revamping programs to place clinical practice at the center of teacher preparation, not unlike the medical profession.
Those and other sweeping recommendations are being released by a Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning, convened by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
The panel, co-chaired by Colorado Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones and Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York, is releasing its recommendations at a press event this morning. Rico Munn, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and Robert Hammond, CDE’s deputy commissioner who will serve as commissioner in the interim following Commissioner Jones’ departure, also attended in a show of commitment to this work in particular and improving educator effectiveness overall.
The event is being held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is scheduled to attend and speak in support of the panel’s work.
The new vision of preparation requires partnerships in which the development and training of teachers becomes a shared responsibility between P-12 (preschool through high school) programs and higher education.
“For this transformation to take place, school districts and teacher prep programs will need to work together and take joint responsibility for these programs, and states must develop new policy frameworks and incentives for clinically based programs to flourish,” said Commissioner Jones.
The changes will require state higher education officials, governors and state leadership to work together to remove policy barriers and create policy to support the new vision of teacher education.
Eight states—California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Tennessee—will pilot implementation of the panel’s recommendations. These states will work with national experts to pilot approaches to implementation and bring new models of clinical preparation to scale.
Working with NCATE and other invested organizations, including the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, the Association of Teacher Educators, national teachers’ unions and their state and local affiliates, the Alliance also will reach out to and learn from other states working to transform teacher education.
Copies of Transforming Teacher Education through Clinical Practice: A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers and additional papers are available online at www.ncate.org.
Among the panel recommendations:
There must be an intense focus on making clinical practice the centerpiece of the curriculum and interweaving opportunities for teaching experience with academic content and professional courses. Online and video demonstrations must be expanded, as should case-study analysis and additional approaches widely used in other professional fields. The panel says that candidates need to work directly with students in schools as they analyze problems, try out solutions and gain feedback. Teachers need to be prepared to use research-based and developmentally appropriate strategies. Teachers need to know how to assess student progress and make adjustments as needed.
Higher education and school districts must share accountability and responsibility, with P-12 schools playing a more significant role in designing preparation programs, selecting candidates, assessing candidate performance and placing candidates in clinical experiences. For example, current state laws often require that teacher preparation faculty sign off on candidate qualifications and completion of clinical experiences. The panel says that evaluation of candidate effectiveness needs to be a shared responsibility, with accountability closer to the classroom.
Teacher-training programs must attract more academically prepared and more diverse cohorts of students.
The reward structure in higher education and P-12 schools’ staffing models must shift so it values clinical practice as the center of teacher preparation. The current practice of supervising student teachers in schools is typically assigned to a teacher as extra work, usually with no training, support or changes in schedule. Schools need to adopt new staffing models patterned after medical preparation so that teachers, mentors, coaches, teacher interns and residents work together as teams.
States and accreditation agencies must strengthen their scrutiny and preparation programs must become more accountable for meeting school needs and improving P-12 student learning.
States should help ensure that future teachers are prepared to fill the staffing needs of P-12 schools. To do this, teacher preparation programs should be discouraged from preparing teachers with specialties that are not in high demand.
Federal agencies should support a clearly defined research agenda to document and provide evidence of the impact of practices in clinical preparation on teacher effectiveness. The panel’s recommendations are consistent with a recent report of the National Research Council, which noted that clinical preparation is one of three areas most promising for potential increases in teacher effectiveness in the classroom.
Making these changes, the report says, will improve how the nation delivers, monitors, evaluates, oversees and staffs preparation programs to incubate a whole new form of teacher education.
“This was an historic coming together of major stakeholders to make excellent programs the norm in teacher education,” said Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York and co-chair of the panel. “Teaching, like medicine, is a profession of practice. Making clinical preparation the centerpiece of teacher education will transform the way we prepare teachers, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in higher education to implement the panel's recommendations.”
Commissioner Jones noted that the redesign of teacher preparation programs would fit well with the improvements envisioned by Senate Bill10-191, the Colorado law that calls for a new system of evaluating and improving the effectiveness of every educator in the state.
More Rigorous Monitoring
NCATE panel member Arthur Levine, former president of Columbia University’s Teachers College and a critic of teacher education’s status quo, noted that these recommendations, coupled with recently announced plans for the nation’s two teacher accreditation organizations to consolidate, are moving the field in the right direction.
“These changes will help make teacher education better connected to the needs of schools and students, yield teachers who can be more immediately effective and more likely to stay in the classroom for the long haul, and create a more coherent accountability system subject to higher standards,” said Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
Hard Choices and Cost Implications
The panel acknowledges that implementing this agenda will require reallocating resources and making hard choices about institutional priorities, changing selection criteria, and restructuring staffing patterns in P-12 schools. Clinically based programs may cost more per candidate than current programs, but will be more cost-effective, cutting turnover costs for P-12 schools and yielding educators who enter the field ready to teach.
NCATE is a coalition of over 30 national professional organizations committed to high-quality preparation for effective teaching, service and leadership in P-12 schools.
Over 700 schools of education with more than 10,000 educator preparation programs are part of the NCATE accreditation system. These programs, together with those accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, produce the majority of new teachers, specialists and administrators annually.
In late October 2010, NCATE and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) announced consolidation of their organizations to form the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) within two years.