NAAC Commends NCATE Blue Ribbon Panel Recommendations for Teacher Preparation
The National Association for Alternative Certification (NAAC) endorses the recent Call to Action recommended by NCATE’s Blue Ribbon Panel to transform teacher preparation. We believe momentum for this transformation has been developing steadily over the past thirty years, as successful non‐ traditional models for teacher preparation have emerged across the nation. In answer to the Panel’s Call, NAAC responds as a key stakeholder and pledges to join in this effort.
Teaching is indeed a profession characterized by lifelong development, a profession in which practitioners learn more and more about their craft each year. We agree with the conclusion of the panel’s chair, Nancy Zimpher, that "Teachers are the most important in‐school factor in student success."1 We also agree with the panel’s co‐chair, Dwight Jones, as he observed that "For this transformation to take place, school districts and teacher education programs will need to work together and take joint responsibility for teacher preparation programs..."2
Each school where a new teacher candidate is placed must become a professional development school, staffed by mentors and support personnel from the school in partnership collaboration with faculty from the preparing institution. NAAC adds to the Panel’s recommendation by calling for a coherent plan for more effective training of candidate school support personnel. Implied in the Panel’s call for special certification of clinical faculty and mentors is training of a general nature. We believe that mentors should be specifically trained by the preparing institution and the participating school district(s) through a collaborative effort. Just as we expect teacher candidates to differentiate training for their students, teacher education entities should differentiate mentor training to meet specific contextual needs of schools, mentors, candidates and their P‐12 students. We believe such a mentor training effort, based in nationwide expectations of teacher preparation entities, would yield more direct benefits than fifty different sets of state regulations for mentors and coaches.
The "endemic unevenness in quality"3 of clinical training is hard to dispute and is disturbing to all who are involved in teacher preparation, regardless of differences among program styles. Furthermore this unevenness in quality is a force of erosion undermining student achievement throughout the country. NAAC fully supports the Panel’s recommendations for more research targeting what works in teacher preparation and for support of the national data network on teacher preparation suggested by the National Academy of Sciences.4 NAAC has a long history of supporting such research and recently renewed its call for a more robust data collection system for the nation’s teacher preparation efforts.5
NAAC applauds the shift to more direct involvement of school district personnel in the teacher preparation process.6 Selection of the right candidates for schools and students is crucial to successful teacher preparation and to improvement of student learning. The wealth of experience earned over the years by P‐12 principals and other personnel is available to teacher preparation institutions for assisting with candidate selection as well as mentoring and evaluation. The Panel was correct in recognizing that no one group--district, program, union, or legislature--can effect this needed transformation by themselves. It will take all of us working together as partners, always with the most important goal in mind: Improvement of Student Learning.
NCATE Press Conference, November 16, 2010.
NCATE Press Release, November 16, 2010.
Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) Report, p.4.
BRP Report, p. 23.
www.alternativecertification.org, November 30, 2010.
BRP Report, p. 27, 28.