Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 37, No. 4, November 2011, 399–408.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The authors identify half a dozen challenges that confront the schooling of children and youth and appeal for teacher educators to lead efforts to address each of these needs.
Today’s political and public context for teacher education
The past two years have seen a profound shift in the value ascribed to university-based teacher education in the USA.
The Bush administration and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 fostered significant change in teacher education with efforts to define a highly qualified teacher.
President Obama’s Race to the Top brought increased intensity to the efforts to recast teacher education and greater expectations for excellence and accountability to the enterprise.
In addition, preparation programmes made responsible for the success of their graduates in affecting the learning of their preschool- kindergarden to Grade 12 (or ages 4–18) students.
However, constraining federal and state expenditures for public education led to the serious curtailment of resources for teacher education at public colleges and universities.
The teachers in public schools had even larger challenges to overcome.
Classrooms experienced sharply increased class sizes and reductions in supporting staff and aides. School calendars were shortened and more than 100,000 teachers were told their
contracts would not be renewed for the 2011/12 school year.
In addition, education schools in the USA were also confronted by the following factors:
Expanded federal reporting requirements and increased state regulations challenged schools of education.
Expectations that education schools would lead academic programmes in colleges and universities in embracing the new Common Core State Standards Initiative that will guide PK-12 schooling in the USA will have an enormous effect on teacher preparation.
A downturn in federal grant opportunities and funding availability and a recasting of research priorities and guidelines by federal agencies made it particularly difficult for faculties in research extensive education schools to acquire grant funding.
Three of the major philanthropic foundations (Gates, Broad, Walton), who gave a total of $546 million to education in 2009, announced their intention to bypass education schools and their teacher education programmes and, instead, invest in alternative preparation programmes.
Competition from alternative providers, such as Teach for America and so-called ‘national schools of education’ offering programmes anywhere challenged the traditional boundaries of university-based teacher education.
Inside teacher education there were also major shifts and new directions. Among the most significant of these was the effort to reassert professional control over the preparation and certification of teachers.
A second major initiative was the call by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) for more clinically based preparation.
A third initiative was the redesign of professional accreditation.
The authors conclude that education deans worry whether there is a future for university-based teacher education.
The authors recommend that teacher educators should rethink continually the content of programmes, the way courses are delivered, the sequencing of courses and the evaluations used, the suitability of the clinical component and the student teaching experience, and the best ways to assess the impact of the programme.
More attention should be focused on outcome measures to determine efficacy of the programme, with new federal reporting requirements that will emphasise the achievement growth of students taught by programme graduates, placement and retention rates, and levels of graduate and employer satisfaction.