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N.E.A. Outlines Views on Teacher Certification

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The executive board of the National Education Association has issued a policy paper outlining its views on how existing state licensing programs should relate to the proposed national certification system for teachers.

The paper, "Establishing and Maintaining Standards for the Governance of the Teaching Profession,'' presents a model for a restructured profession, in which teachers themselves would set and enforce standards for teacher preparation, certification, and licensure.

Many of the proposals contained in the paper, which was adopted last month, are drawn from longstanding N.E.A. positions.

Under the model, prospective teachers would be required to seek and receive national certification from a teacher-controlled national- standards board as a condition for qualifying for a state license to teach.

As defined in the paper, certification refers to the process by which a nongovernmental agency grants professional recognition to an individual who has met certain predetermined qualifications. Licensure is defined as the process by which a state agency grants a person permission to practice a profession.

According to the model, autonomous state-standards boards, which the N.E.A. has long advocated, would assume the responsibility for licensing teachers.

In addition, these teacher-controlled boards would assume responsibility for approving teacher-training programs, the paper states.

National accreditation of training institutions, however, would remain the responsibility of the National Council for the Accreditiation of Teacher Education, the paper states. Only graduates from NCATE-accredited institutions would be eligible for state licensure.

According to the document, the model "advances a vision and is not intended to apply to teachers currently practicing in the classroom.''

The N.E.A. board said the paper was prepared "to guide'' the association and its affiliates in their efforts to forge a teacher-governed profession. The paper states that achieving "teacher control will require concerted and coordinated action at all levels of the association,'' and could take as long as a decade.

Mary Hatwood Futrell, president of the N.E.A., is one of the members of a planning group organized by the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy to establish a national standards board for teachers.--B.R.

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