An Omnibus Review of Reform in Teacher Education: California Five Years after the SB 2042 Reforms

Article excerpt

The focus of this issue of Issues in Teacher Education is the changes in teacher education brought about in response to various national, state, and local educational reform movements of the 1990s. In the previous decade, reform in public education focused on the structures and management of public education with the goal of instituting community and sitebased governance as a leverage for change. In the following decade, as a result of both seminal studies using gross database methodology and longitudinal studies of student achievement, there was a body of empirical evidence suggesting that "teacher quality does matter." These studies coincided with a series of studies that connected the increasing achievement gap between poor underrepresented urban and rural students and affluent majority suburban students with the historic shortage of qualified teachers in urban and rural school districts. The reform agendas changed from the structures of schooling to the definition of quality teaching, how to recruit, prepare and retain teachers, and accountability systems that would ensure the quality of candidates, teacher preparation institutions, and licensing bodies.

In the national arena, there were a wide range of foundations, commissions, and policy bodies that went about the task of defining quality teaching and suggesting systems of accountability. Common ground could be found in the expectation that teachers should know their academic content and teach well. Disagreement was rife when it came to suggesting how teachers learn to teach well and how teacher efficacy could be measured. On the one hand, one group of policy makers proposed the establishment of national professional teaching standards measured by contextualized teacher performance assessments. On the other hand, another group supported the opening of the routes into teaching using academic standards measured by student academic achievement scores.

In California, these broadly stated issues of teacher education reform were realized within specific state conditions. The change in the credentialing system grew from a project to retain qualified beginning teachers in urban and rural schools to combat a growing teaching shortage, the California New Teacher Project. The final product, California Senate Bill 2042 (SB 2042), consisted of a set of professional standards, the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP), multiple paths to credentialing, a twotiered system of initial preparation followed by induction, and a teacher performance assessment system of accountability.

The contributors in this volume look at the changes in teacher preparation that took place as a consequence of the passage of SB 2042. Each article reviews this process from a particular perspective. Five years have passed since the reforms outlined in SB 2042 have been put into place in subject matter programs, teacher preparation programs, and new professional induction programs. Questions posed are: Did the implementation of SB 2042 hold true to the intent of reform proposed? Did other powerful reforms unforeseen in the original premise come forth? What obvious benefits did the transformation bring with it? What unintended consequences have become apparent? Is this a sustainable system? What might the future of teacher education look like in the next five years? Will these changes support higher K-12 student achievement?

Mary Sandy, Associate Director of Teacher Education for the California State University and formerly a staff member with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, addresses the issue from the perspective of the education agency given the charge of orchestrating the reform. …