Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Producing Effective Teacher Preparation Programs

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Producing Effective Teacher Preparation Programs

Article excerpt

During my twenty-two years in teacher education, I have seen my share of weaknesses in teacher preparation in private as well as public institutions. And there is no legitimate excuse for most of the problems that exist in teacher preparation today.

High educational standards and expectations of students -- along with hard work -- can produce a strong program where a weak one has existed for years. However, it takes consistency of expectation and commitment from faculty and administrators -- including the president -- to develop a sound foundation and maintain a strong teacher preparation program.

It is with a great deal of professional interest, therefore, that I am observing the national trends in proposed and adopted legislation affecting these programs. One of the most salient proposals was recently made by U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). If approved, this piece of legislation would radically change the face of teacher preparation.

Bingaman's bill links institutional eligibility for Title IV student financial assistance to the performance of its students on their state licensing exams. But surprisingly, this proposal has created quite a stir. Most teacher educators and administrators are fearful of the potential monetary consequences of this bill.

A few of us, however, are pleased that such a "radical" proposal is being considered. Of course, none sees the amendment as a panacea for all of the problems of weak teacher preparation programs. Still, the bill is one of the most significant pieces of legislation proposed in recent years.

Teacher preparation programs can no longer be exempt from the kind of standards expected of any other profession in our nation. If a teacher preparation program cannot prepare its students to meet even the minimum standard of passing a licensing exam, the program should be deleted from the college or university offerings.

Surprisingly, lack of accountability continues to be the hallmark of many administrators of teacher preparation programs, even though accountability is addressed in almost all reports critical of teacher preparation.

Below I have noted a number of characteristics that can accurately predict a weak teacher preparation program:

* Administrative support is missing. Teacher education is not a priority and administrators generally do not know what is going on in the School/College/Department of Education (SCDE). …

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