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Education School Links With K-12 on the Rise, Survey Finds

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Chicago

Education schools appear to be heeding calls to forge closer links with precollegiate education, a new survey of teacher education institutions, faculty members, and deans has found.

Preliminary results from the eighth Research About Teacher Education report, released here last month at the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, indicate "an encouraging amount of activity'' in establishing partnerships.

The research project, conducted by a team of teacher-educators, focused on exploring teacher education's relationship with the "world of practice.''

In the survey of 84 institutions that are members of the association, nearly half of the education schools said they had established "partner schools,'' where large numbers of student-teachers are placed, faculty members and teachers conduct joint research-and-development projects, and faculty members are assigned to work.

Getting Teachers Involved

Education schools also are working to get classroom teachers more involved in teacher training. More than 60 percent reported, for example, that teachers have formal appointments at their institutions. And roughly 40 percent said those appointments came about because of contracts or agreements with school districts.

Such arrangements are "a more formal structure than some might expect,'' the study suggests.

The study also polled 388 faculty members who teach methodology courses at 88 institutions. On the average, the professors have been out of precollegiate classrooms for 15 years.

While more than 80 percent of the methods instructors said they worked regularly with one or more precollegiate schools--spending about 27 hours a month in schools--only about 25 percent said schools frequently sought them out for help.

"It appears that most methods faculty initiate their school-related endeavors,'' the study says.

About 20 percent of the methods-faculty members said they had been assigned to a specially designated "partner school.'' But 50 percent of deans and directors of teacher training programs reported in a separate study that they were regularly engaged in partner schools.

A Tougher Job

Given their activity in schools, the methods-faculty members were asked to comment on teaching today as compared to when they last taught. Overwhelmingly, the respondents said the job was "more'' or "much more'' difficult.

Even so, the study observes, "a whopping'' 62 percent were "very confident'' that they could be successful teachers.

Asked about their abilities to help schools with specific tasks that are centerpieces of the current reform movement, however, methods professors expressed doubts about assisting schools to use technology, to develop outcomes-based assessments, and to institute site-based decisionmaking.

They also were not eager to seek certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which is developing assessments to identify accomplished teachers. In the future, some have suggested, teacher-educators should be nationally certified to prepare classroom teachers.

Less than 20 percent of the methods professors supported the idea of seeking national certification themselves, while 30 percent opposed it. The rest were either unsure or unfamiliar with the concept.

"A fair number of education faculty are uninformed about major standards-setting, professional-development, and assessment activity in this country,'' the study comments.

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