Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Outstanding Teacher Education Programs: What Do They Have That the Others Don't? the U.S. Department of Education Had Already Selected Four Winners of Its National Awards Program for Effective Teacher Preparation. the Task for the Regional Educational Laboratories Was to Figure out How the Programs Got to Be So Good

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Outstanding Teacher Education Programs: What Do They Have That the Others Don't? the U.S. Department of Education Had Already Selected Four Winners of Its National Awards Program for Effective Teacher Preparation. the Task for the Regional Educational Laboratories Was to Figure out How the Programs Got to Be So Good

Article excerpt

TEACHER quality is a central pillar of the No Child Left Behind Act for good reason. Without high-quality teachers, we cannot realize the goal of high achievement for all students. In turn, if preservice teachers do not receive the highest-quality teacher preparation, then we cannot meet the demand for high-quality teachers. Few would argue with this logic, but it does invite the question, How can teacher preparation institutions determine whether their programs effectively prepare graduates to help all students achieve academically?

To help answer this question, in 2000 the U.S. Department of Education (ED) established the National Awards Program for Effective Teacher Preparation. The awards are to recognize teacher preparation programs that have compelling evidence of their effectiveness in readying teachers to help all students meet high academic standards. ED also envisioned the awards program as encouraging further discussion of the elements of effective teacher preparation. To that end, the awards specifically require programs to describe how they systematically gather and use a variety of data for monitoring their activities and improving their efforts. Winning programs detailed their size, focus, goals, objectives, components (such as courses and field experiences), and criteria for judging effectiveness. Of the 19 programs that applied for the award in 2000, four were selected:

* Alverno College, Elementary Education Program, Milwaukee, Wis.

* East Carolina University, Middle Grades Mathematics Program, Greenville, N.C.

* Fordham University Graduate School of Education, Initial Teacher Education, Elementary Program, New York, N.Y.

* Samford University, Elementary Education Program, Birmingham, Ala.

AN OVERVIEW OF THE PROGRAMS

Whether part of a large public institution or a small private one, each of these programs has specific structures and processes in place to ensure that it continually improves. The programs share a commitment to monitoring and evaluating their effectiveness, yet each is unique in terms of size, focus, and how its evaluation system evolved.

Alverno College. This small private college for women prepares teachers for urban settings. The curriculum focuses on eight abilities (such as communicating effectively through a variety of media or working collaboratively with others), and all of Alverno's programs use performance assessments to determine students' proficiency in these skills. Faculty members across the seven major divisions of the college collaborate on the curriculum, performance assessments, and evaluations. The evaluation system began and continues as part of Alverno's systematic, campuswide improvement efforts.

East Carolina University. The award-winning teacher preparation program at this large public institution focuses on preparing middle school mathematics teachers. This program relies on strong collaboration with P-12 partners, and many program graduates teach in rural schools. The program's evaluation system is more highly developed than that of other teacher education programs at the university.

Fordham University. Fordham, a relatively large private institution, offers three graduate teacher education programs. The award-winning program prepares teachers for urban settings. Faculty members had a twofold reason for developing the program's evaluation system: not only did they recognize a need for change, but they also wanted to meet accreditation requirements.

Samford University. This small private university uses a problem-based curriculum, and its evaluation system, which is in place throughout the university, is built on the principles of "total quality management." The school of education developed the Quality Education Comprehensive Assessment Program as its model for planning and evaluation. Faculty members and advisory groups that include candidates, graduates, practitioners, and employers provide input into the planning process. …

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