Friday, May 04, 2007

AFT Recs on Teacher Prep: Nice Square Pegs, Not So Nice Round Holes?

The AFT has just released (or rereleased) "An Urgent Call for Preparation Changes: Recommendations Made in 2000 Remain Valid but Generally Untouched." The recs follow:
  • Raise entrance grade-point average (GPA) for teacher education programs. 2.75 GPA at the end of the sophomore year and phase it up to a 3.0 GPA.
  • Institute a national entry test. It should be developed by the teaching profession and administered by the end of the sophomore year to select teacher education candidates. Proficiency in math, science, English language arts and history/geography/social studies should be tested.
  • Require an academic major.
  • Develop a core curriculum in pedagogy.
  • Strengthen induction programs for new teachers.
  • Strengthen the clinical experience. It should build on successful models, including using exemplary teachers to mentor student teachers. Also, preservice teachers should be placed in diverse teaching and learning settings and should assume non-instructional duties to understand the full range of teacher responsibilities.
  • Institute rigorous exit/licensure tests on subject matter and pedagogy. They should be taken by all prospective teachers prior to licensure. Currently, the rigor of tests is inconsistent.
  • Take a five-year view. Teacher preparation should be organized, at a minimum, as a five-year process.
  • Require high standards for alternative programs. Students in these programs should be required to take pedagogical coursework and to pass state teacher-testing exams.
Makes pretty solid sense. Of course the trouble we run into, the same trouble I mentioned in my last post is getting enough educators to go through this process. The specter of a 5-year program and numerous hoops and obstacles to race through to the end prize, a career where teacher pay stumbles along with core inflation just doesn't sound so sweet. Especially when alternative entry points into teaching careers exist. Recs like these in a vacuum mean nothing. In other words, as long as there are myriad alternative views on teaching, learning, and public education, solid recommendations based on reasonable data will remain filled with caveats.

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