Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Examining Applicants for Admission and Completion of an Online Teacher Certification Program

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Examining Applicants for Admission and Completion of an Online Teacher Certification Program

Article excerpt

In the introduction of their monograph, A Good Teacher in Every Classroom, Darling-Hammond and BaratzSnowden (2005) note that more than one hundred thousand new teachers enter classrooms across the country each year. These beginning teachers vary greatly in the professional skills and knowledge they bring to the classroom with many having little or no formal learning experiences regarding essential knowledge and clinical experiences needed to succeed in the classroom. Darling-Hammond and Baratz-Snowden continue by listing the following traits exhibited by teachers whose students exhibit strong academic achievement.

   Effective teachers use many different tools to assess how their
   students learn as well as what the students know. They use this
   information to help students advance from where they are to where
   they need to be. They carefully organize activities, materials and
   instruction based on students' prior knowledge and level of
   development so that all students can be successful. They know what
   conceptions students should bring with them about the subject and
   what misconceptions are likely to cause them confusion--and they
   design their lessons to overcome these misinterpretations. They
   adapt the curriculum to different students' needs; for example,
   making content more accessible for students who are still learning
   English and for those who have special educational needs. (pp. 2
   -3)

These authors stress that teacher preparation has evolved to the degree that there is agreement on what beginning teachers need to know in order to enter the classroom with professional competence to adequately serve the very first students they teach. Two other recent policy papers supported by the National Council on Teacher Quality and the Education Commission of the States provide accounts regarding whether empirical research supports commonly held notions and practices applied to teacher certification, selection, retention and compensation. The reports, Increasing the Odds: How Good Policies Can Yield Better Teachers (National Council on Teacher Quality, n. d.) and Eight Questions on Teacher Preparation: What Does the Research Say? (Allen, 2003) examine factors affecting policies enacted by state governments and local school districts in deciding who will be admitted to the teaching profession. Drawing from these sources, it is evident the assumed relations among variables (professional and personal characteristics) for selecting and preparing tomorrow's teachers need additional examination given the following findings reported in these reports.

* Research evidence does not exist to support or refute more stringent teacher preparation entrance requirements or conducting more-selective screening of program candidates to positively affect student achievement.

* Personal attributes of high achievement orientation, accepting responsibility, demonstrating critical thinking, being organized, being motivated, being respectful of others, and supporting the goals of the organization are soft attributes thought to relate to greater student academic gains.

* Teachers with strong academic credentials generally produce greater student academic gains.

* Empirical evidence supports the idea of a positive association between the level of literacy of teachers and academic achievement of their students.

* Subject matter knowledge has mixed empirical support for secondary mathematics and science teachers with greater subject preparation generally yielding a positive relation to student achievement, but this modest support does not occur with other secondary content areas.

* The research evidence suggests that preparation in a given subject does not necessarily develop understanding of how particular knowledge and skills of the content domain are best learned.

* There is insufficient empirical evidence to support any teacher preparation models that will produce effective teachers in hard-to-staff and low-performing schools. …

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