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NCATE To Develop Standards for Training Schools

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The national accrediting body for teacher preparation announced last week that it will set standards for professional-development schools.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education won a two-year, $500,000 grant from the a.t.&t. Foundation to devise standards for the schools, which combine theory and practice to give pre-service and beginning teachers a place to test their knowledge and skills.

The standards project represents "a judgment on our part that this new institution is likely to grow in number and significance," Arthur E. Wise, the president of ncate, said last week.

Teacher education officials estimate that there are about 200 professional-development sites--collaborations between universities and local schools--throughout the United States.

In several states, the idea has become more widely used by universities and school districts. And in recent years, a number of leading groups in the teacher-preparation field have hailed the approach as a route to advancing school reform and improving teacher quality.

For example, the Holmes Group, a consortium of teacher education schools, has encouraged its members to set up professional-development sites. (See related story.)

(See Education, Schools, and Teaching--based at Teachers College, Columbia University--also created a network of such schools.

'A Leading Edge'

Ncate plans to set up a committee over the next few months to talk about establishing standards for the sites.

The standards would be used to evaluate the professional-development schools operated by institutions seeking accreditation, Mr. Wise said. Some universities use the sites to fulfill ncate's clinical-preparation requirement.

Mr. Wise said he hopes that the project will shed more light on the efforts of schools and universities to use the sites for research and innovation. Now, he said, such professional-development schools are "still a leading-edge practice--not the norm."

But the standards committee will be facing an issue that has plagued some schools and universities interested in collaborating: funding.

The Michigan Partnership for New Education, for instance, recently announced that it would downplay its role in fostering professional-development schools. (See related story, 12/12/94

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