Efforts To Improve Teacher Training Urged
Chicago--Better teacher training should be the responsibility of entire universities and not just the education schools traditionally charged with that task, contends a new report by a group of university presidents and education-school deans.
The brief, eight-page report, "Teachers for the New World: A Statement of Principles," is the product of more than eight months of deliberations by a consortium of eight state universities known as the Renaissance Group. In it, the group sets down 12 basic objectives for improving teacher-preparation programs.
The report was presented at a meeting here last month of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
Primary among the group's recommendations is the call for universitywide efforts to improve teacher preparation.
"We're saying you can't leave teacher preparation until the end of a person's time on campus in a building on the other side of the university known as the education school," said Thomas C. Meredith, chairman of the group's executive committee and president of Western Kentucky University. "Liberal-arts and science faculty probably have future teachers in their classrooms and they need to be role models, also."
To carry forth that message, the institutions plan to hold seminars for all university faculty members on improving teaching. The group will also set up a network to help its members exchange information on strategies4for collaboration between education schools and the rest of the university.
The group's heavy emphasis on involving all of a university inteacher training stems, in part, from the somewhat unusual composition of its membership, Mr. Meredith said. Unlike other university-level efforts to reform teacher preparation, the Renaissance Group makes participation of the institution's president a prerequisite for joining.
Like reports from similar efforts, however, the Renaissance Group's paper maintains that teachersshould be well grounded both in the subjects they teach and in how to teach them.
"Teacher education is a triangle standing on three legs: general education, pedagogy, and preparation in an academic major," noted J.T. Sandefur, dean of the college of education and behavioral sciences at Western Kentucky and a member of the group. He said attention should be given to "all of the legs of the triangle" in preparing new teachers.
No specific recommendations are included in the report, however, on whether such programs should encompass four or more years of schooling.
The report includes comment on what member institutions see as a growing effort on the part of states to regulate the training of teachers. The appropriate role of the state, it contends, is to set outcomes for teacher-education graduates, leaving the schools to determine how their graduates can meet those targets.
"There was a strong concern that too many states had gotten into 'mi8cro-regulating' teacher education to the point at which they're trying to dictate specific courses to be taught," Mr. Meredith said.
Other hallmarks of the kinds of high-quality teacher-education programs described in the report include: students who are representative of the nation's ethnic and cultural diversity; studies that prepare graduates to teach in multicultural settings; rigorous learning expectations and exit requirements for students; extensive experiences for students in real--and ethnically diverse--classroom settings; and the availability of resources to accomplish those goals.
Mr. Meredith said the Renaissance Group would develop an agenda for meeting the report's objectives at its March 21-23 meeting in San Bernardino, Calif. The group will also vote at that meeting on whether to extend an invitation to join to three more universities--Emporia State College in Emporia, Kan.; Eastern Michigan University; and Grambling State University in Grambling, La.
In addition to Western Kentucky University, the other Renaissance Group schools include: the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Northern Colorado, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, California State University at San Bernardino, Florida Atlantic University, Millersville State University in Millersville, Pa., and Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.
Copies of the report are available by contacting Thomas J. Switzer, dean of the college of education at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614.