Profession-Based Accreditation: A Foundation for High-Quality Teaching

Article excerpt

The idea of teacher growth and development as a continuum that spans a teaching career offers a framework to guide the creation of new standards and assessments, Mr. Wise and Ms. Leibbrand maintain.

Looking ahead to the 21st century - what will the school, the teacher, and the student be like? Linda Darling-Hammond provides a glimpse of what is possible in her vignette describing "Elena." What policies do we need to put in place and what strategies should we use to bring this transformation about?

States have been implementing reforms in teaching and teacher preparation during the 13 years since the release of A Nation at Risk. Thousands of pieces of legislation have been passed, often producing little of the intended effect. Legislators and policy makers now realize that piecemeal attempts at reform will not provide a cure for a system that was designed for America's past. They recognize that the expertise of the teacher is the most important school-based factor in determining student achievement.

In looking at teacher development as part of a continuum, preservice preparation is the beginning point. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), as the accrediting organization for schools of education, functions as the profession's quality-assurance vehicle in this first phase of the continuum. What reforms are taking place in teacher preparation that are fundamentally changing its traditional structure? How do these changes support changes in licensing and the advent of board certification?

The state also plays a clear role through its process of program approval. NCATE's partnership program with 40 states strengthens the rigor of its review of schools of education. How might partnerships between NCATE and the states eventually alter the processes of program approval and accreditation?

The next step is a prolonged clinical phase of preparation, during which the teacher is granted a beginner (or conditional) license and receives extensive clinical assistance. This proposed phase would continue teacher preparation at least through the first year of teaching, during which the beginning teacher is evaluated for competence to practice independently. This proposal, now in various stages of development in school districts and states, will require a change in the traditional paradigm of teacher preparation. Once that model is amended to include extended clinical preparation, policy makers will develop new rules and regulations to govern state licensing. Such an extension will expand teachers' roles, as experienced teachers serve as mentors and evaluators of beginning teachers. Professional development schools or yearlong internships in which the beginner is mentored extensively may start to function as settings in which beginning teachers are evaluated continually during the year as they move toward professional licensure.

Looking at the third phase of the continuum, National Board certification will be an important form of recognition for many teachers, including those who wish to enlarge their roles by becoming mentors to beginning teachers. The National Board has developed performance-oriented standards and assessments in various content areas. It has thus focused attention on teacher performance. How does certification through the National Board alter the education needs of teachers? How might teacher preparation change as a result of the existence of National Board certification? In the following pages, we explore these issues.

Accreditation Standards As a Lever for Reform, 1987-96

The public and policy makers are demanding performance-oriented standards and assessments to determine what teachers (and students) know and are able to do. As the states move ahead in developing performance-oriented licensing systems, teacher preparation will be profoundly affected. How can we expect new teachers to perform well on meaningful, performance-oriented licensing examinations if they have not had adequate preparation? …