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NCATE Project Seeks To Tie Teacher, Student Standards

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The national accrediting body for teacher education has embarked on an ambitious, four-year project to closely link standards for teacher preparation, teacher licensing, and student achievement.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education last week unveiled the $2 million program, called "The New Professional Teacher Project." The Carnegie Corporation of New York put up $350,000 in seed money; more is expected from other foundations, NCATE officials said.

The project's creators hope it will help the national groups drawing up academic-content standards for students match their benchmarks with those for teacher education. In addition, NCATE will work with states interested in setting up a licensing system for teachers based on performance.

Arthur E. Wise, the president of NCATE, said the project "scales up" the agency's earlier efforts to tie together reforms at every level of the profession.

The accrediting council's announcement came a week after the Carnegie Corporation and the Rockefeller Foundation convened a panel of leaders in education, business, and politics to suggest ways to improve teacher development. Among that panel's tasks is to devise strategies for preparing and supporting teachers that will meet new standards and to connect developments in teacher education, licensing, and accreditation with school reforms. (See Education Week, 11/23/94.)

"We definitely see these two efforts as related," Mr. Wise said last week. "We're operating on a micro level, while they're acting more as an oversight, or strategic, body."

"But I think our goal is the same: to speed the process of professionalization," he added.

Subjects and Standards

Ncate will help subject-area groups set performance-based standards for teacher preparation that reflect emerging expectations for students in preschool through 12th grade.

Already, the accrediting group has worked closely with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics to match the N.C.T.M. outcomes for students with those for teachers, said Jim Gates. Mr. Gates is the executive director of the math teachers' council, the first of the subject groups to publish standards for what students should know and be able to do.

The connection between efforts to improve teacher education and student learning is essential for the reforms to take hold, Mr. Gates said.

The performance standards set under the professional-teacher project should also guide education schools as they design courses for prospective teachers, and guide NCATE in its accreditation reviews, officials said.

In addition, the new expectations should reflect model state-licensing standards under development by a Council of Chief State School Officers task force and the benchmarks of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a private effort to certify expert teachers.

Mr. Wise said NCATE expects to identify up to 15 states interested in reforming preparation and licensure under the project.

Ncate will then sponsor forums for education professors, state licensing officials, teachers, and others to explore potential changes at every phase of preparation. The state panels are expected to make recommendations to Goals 2000 panels, legislatures, boards of education, and standards boards.

Some states will likely follow Kentucky's lead and set up a performance-based licensing system under agreement with NCATE. (See Education Week, 10/05/94.)

"In the past, state standards were very different from national standards," Mr. Wise noted. "Hopefully, the new standards [coming out of the project] will be a resource for state authorities."

"Right now, the goal in education seems to be alignment," added David Imig, the executive director of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. "What this project is essentially doing is alleviating us of all the duplication in the system."

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