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Teacher Development Seen Key to Unified Reforms

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State policymakers must develop a unified vision for reform that has teacher development at its core, according to a report issued last week by the National Conference of State Legislatures and Recruiting New Teachers Inc.

The report, which was based on a workshop attended by state legislators and education-policy analysts last fall, also urges state policymakers to adopt teacher-development policies that foster improvement rather than dictate new behavior.

Moreover, the report suggests, states can more readily link local reform to the national reform agenda through systemic teacher policies.

"A central thesis of the symposium was that too often state policy focuses on isolated elements within that cycle, rather than their connection,'' said David Haselkorn, the president of R.N.T.

R.N.T. is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1986, that is dedicated to promoting teaching as a profession.

"The encouraging development is that many states are now making an effort to move from fragmentation to coherence,'' Mr. Haselkorn said.

"States that have designed education reforms without paying sufficient attention to teacher development are finding that a critically important link is missing,'' observed Julie Davis Bell, the education-program director for the N.C.S.L.

Guiding Principles

The report is largely built on 10 guiding principles for policymakers.

The principles include: basing the design and implementation of policy on long-term strategic thinking and planning; building a consensus among all education stakeholders; placing teachers at the center of the process; taking the nation's changing demographics into consideration; linking the policy to changes in school management and organization; and resolving the issue of funding the systems.

The report also spells out the issues that policymakers need to address in teacher development: recruitment, postsecondary education for aspiring teachers, standards, roles and responsibilities, professional development, pay and benefits, and removal and retirement.

Both the report and the symposium were funded by the Philip Morris Companies Inc.

Copies of the report, "State Policies to Improve the Teacher Workforce: Shaping the Profession that Shapes America's Future,'' are available without charge from R.N.T., 385 Concord Ave., Belmont, Mass. 02178; (617) 489-6000.

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