Changes focus more on clinical experience, student learning
THE NATIONAL COUNCIL for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), which accredits programs that graduate nearly twothirds of the new teacher candidates in the country each year, is introducing requirements intended to bring a renewed focus on the needs of today's preK-12 students.
Under the new require- ments - the first from NCATE in a decade - teacher preparation programs no longer can earn the council's seal of approval simply by meeting an "acceptable" level of performance as measured against NCATE standards.
Starting later this year, programs must show they are on track to reach an "excellent" level of performance, or they must make what the organization calls "transformative changes" in a number of key areas related to improving student achievement
"The new focus will help close the gap between theory and practice, and ensure that teacher education program candidates are able to help diverse students be successful learners," says NCATE president James Cibulka. "In the past, accreditation wrapped clinical experience around coursework This approach reverses the priority, encouraging institutions to place teacher candidates in yearlong training programs and wrap coursework around clinical practice."
Cibulka points out that the focus on clinical experience is consistent with the Obama adrninistration's emphasis on teacher quality as well as parts of the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act. The higher education act, for instance, includes more than $100 million for teacher quality grants, which involve yearlong residency programs.
NCATE has outlined a number of key areas that teacher education programs need to focus on under the new approach, including:
* addressing the critical needs of schools, such as recruiting talented teachers and bolstering teacher retention;
* strengthening the …