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Panel To Evaluate Holmes Group's Efforts

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The Holmes Group has decided to create a national panel of outside reviewers to determine whether it is accomplishing its mission of reforming teaching and teacher preparation.

The organization's executive board approved the proposal late last month as part of a year-long strategic-planning process that will chart the organization's course between now and 1994.

"The thought is to create an external panel that is more distant from and more objective about teacher education to watch us, and to examine us, and to review our progress, and to tell us when we're on the mark and when we're off the mark," said Frank B. Murray, chairman of the board. "Members of the organization aren't always in the best position to know that."

The original 1986 report by the consortium, which currently numbers 98 research universities, recommended shifting most teacher preparation to the graduate level, requiring prospective teachers to major in an academic discipline, and creating "professional-development schools,'' jointly operated by school districts and universities, where future teachers could be trained.

But a survey of 71 member institutions, released last year, reported mixed results in carrying out such reforms. Although there were "unmistakable" signs of progress in some areas, the report noted, they coexisted with minimal change and continued obstacles in others.

Creation of the outside panel will help keep the group "honest" about its successes and failures, said Mr. Murray. The exact nature, responsibilities, and composition of the panel have yet to be determined.

The board adopted four broad policy directions for the organization in the coming years. They include: pursuing the development of extended professional-preparation programs; maintaining equity in all aspects of the Holmes Group's agenda; strengthening the role of research within schools of education; and establishing a public, professional framework of accountability.

In addition, the board decided to focus its next report on the topic "Tomorrow's Schools of Education." The book of that title will examine changes needed within universities to carry forward the Holmes Group's agenda.

The board also voted to hire an executive secretary to help manage the corporation's affairs.--lo

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