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AACTE Endorses Tougher Standards, Teachers' Exam

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The executive committee of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education has unanimously endorsed a proposal that would require all new teachers to pass a national professional examination, similar to those required by the medical and legal professions.

But in announcing their endorsement last week, committee members also said the proposal is "too limited" and called for a national certification program that would be mandatory for all new teachers and optional for all teachers currently in the profession.

The national certification program proposed by the five-member AACTE committee would require prospective teachers to meet other standards in addition to those posed by a professional examination.

The AACTE executive committee suggested that to gain "national certification," teachers would also have to graduate from a college of education approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the dominant accrediting organization for teacher-training programs. NCATE will consider in June a plan to raise its standards for accrediting member schools.

The AACTE committee's proposal suggests that states "be encouraged" to license only teachers who have national certification.

Idea 'Germinating'

According to Robert L. Saunders, president of AACTE and dean of Memphis State University's college of education, the committee's proposal for a national certification program is only a preliminary recommendation and is an idea that is "germinating."

Mr. Saunders said he will ask the full AACTE board of directors at its next meeting on June 23 to convene a distinguished panel to "begin work immediately on the design of a national certification program."

"We took a position on this," Mr. Saunders said, "realizing that it is a complicated and complex matter and will take a good bit of work before it becomes a reality."

That panel could be made up of the same individuals who were on AACTE's National Commission for Excellence in Teacher Education, said Sharon Givens, a spokesman for AACTE.

The 17-member excellence commission—which included teacher educators, teacher-union officials, and legislators—released a report in February that recommended longer and more intellectually rigorous training programs for prospective teachers. (See Education Week, March 6, 1985.)

A spokesman for the National Education Association, which was represented by its president, Mary Hatwood Futrell, on the excellence commission, said last week that NEA officials "certainly would be willing to participate in discussions about what a national-certification panel would be like."

Separate Entity

Ms. Givens said the national-certification panel would be an entity completely separate from the "American Board of Professional Education" that Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, advocated in January. That board, according to Mr. Shanker, would plan the development and administration of a national examination.

Mr. Shanker attracted national attention by calling for a professional examination for new teachers and saying that the aft is prepared to require that its members pass such a test.

Ms. Givens suggested that if the professional-examination board is6established, as Mr. Shanker sug, a representative from it probably would be a member of the AACTE national-certification panel.

Scott Widmeyer, a spokesman for the aft, said last week that he could not comment on AACTE's national certification program, or how it fits in with what Mr. Shanker has advocated, until the AACTE proposal is developed further.

"There is some fine-tuning to be done," he said.

Announcement Expected

Mr. Widmeyer added that several groups have expressed interest in establishing the "American Board of Professional Education" and that one of them probably will make an announcement of its intention to do so shortly.

He added that the aft, "as a stakeholder in this," should not be, and will not be, the group to establish the board. The organization that sets up the board must be a neutral party, he said.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is "informally" considering a proposal to sponsor the professional-examination board, Robert Hochstein, director of communications at the foundation, said last week.

"It's no secret that the aft thinks the Carnegie Foundation would be appropriate for this," he said.

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