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NCATE Revises Teacher Training Standards

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The national body that accredits teacher training institutions last week revised its standards to place a much greater emphasis on the knowledge and skills pre-service teachers should have.

The changes, which have been under development for more than a year, are designed to bring the agency more in step with the national movement to set clear expectations for students and educators.

"This has the effect of making our system more performance-based than it ever has been,'' said Arthur E. Wise, the president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, whose leaders approved the standards at their annual meeting in Washington last week.

These were the first comprehensive revisions since 1987, when the agency was redesigned and new, tougher standards were put in place. NCATE is expected to review the standards every five years.

Mr. Wise said the agency's changes mirror the teacher-licensing standards developed recently by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The consortium's standards were also designed to be compatible with those set by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which is piloting a voluntary national system for certifying expert teachers.

"This all lays the groundwork for one set of standards that look backward, to schools of education, and forward, to the duties teachers are assuming,'' Mr. Wise said of the collaborative efforts.

Focus on Technology

In addition to emphasizing what pre-service teachers should know and be able to do, NCATE will require that institutions be able to show how a student's progress is measured through the course of training.

Institutions will be expected to assess a candidate's progress in a variety of ways, which could include use of portfolios and performance assessments, Mr. Wise said.

The agency's revised standards also focus on how technology fits into teacher preparation.

For instance, prospective teachers will be required to show that they understand educational technology and computers, including their use in instruction, assessment, and professional development.

University and college faculty members will be expected to incorporate technology into their teaching and professional work.

Teacher training institutions will be required to meet the new accreditation standards in about 18 months.

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