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NCATE Releases Updated Teacher Training Standards

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The national organization that accredits teacher education institutions has released a draft of updated standards for colleges and universities.

Highlights of the proposal, released last month and open for comment until Dec. 1, include more specific requirements in such areas as multicultural education and advanced degrees and an outcome-based alternative for gauging aspiring teachers' performance.

The executive board of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education could vote on the changes as early as next spring.

Their approval would mark the first time the group has modified its standards since a massive overhaul in 1988, which some colleges and universities said was unfair and unnecessary.

Although the proposals offer no major substantive changes, such as those approved five years ago, they would "ratchet [the standards] up to another level,'' said Jane Leibbrand, an NCATE spokeswoman. According to the draft, their aim is "to reduce the duplication across standards, clarify the language, and reorganize them to emphasize what is important.''

Multicultural Education

Many of the proposed changes deal with multicultural education and racial and ethnic diversity.

"I don't know if it is correct to say we're placing more emphasis on [diversity issues] than before,'' said Arthur E. Wise, the president of NCATE. "We have just become more explicit.''

Under one of the proposed changes, professional studies would have to include knowledge about and appropriate experiences with "theories and models of instruction for multicultural classrooms.''

Another new criterion would require faculty members to "have developed multicultural competencies through formal study or experiences in culturally diverse settings.''

The draft also makes clear NCATE's expectation that technology should be an essential part of teacher education. Technology is to be incorporated into pedagogical studies, it states, and the faculty should be able to "model'' the integration of technology in their fields.

Advanced Degrees

The draft also addresses standards for advanced-degree programs.

Mr. Wise said these programs have often received less attention from NCATE site-visit teams because standards for the advanced program are only implied as an extension of the basic teacher-preparation program.

The draft also recognizes the movement towards outcome-based education.

In order to satisfy NCATE requirements, institutions will have to show that they are closely assessing an individual's ability to perform.

"There is a real focus on outcomes to make sure that people can really go in there and teach,'' said Ms. Leibbrand. "This responds to what policymakers say they want.''

NCATE has also developed an alternate format for colleges and universities that require students to demonstrate their academic and pedagogical knowledge rather than simply take prescribed courses.

To obtain copies of the draft proposal or to submit comments, contact NCATE, 2010 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036; (202) 466-7496.

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