CSU to revamp ed schoolsReport calls for focus on clinical experience
California State University Chancellor Charles Reed has joined leaders in seven other states who have pledged to adopt the findings of a report urging sweeping changes in teacher training programs.
The report, released on Tuesday, calls for turning teacher preparation programs “upside down” by changing from theory and academic courses in pedagogy to clinical practice, with the focus on teacher candidates’ experiences in the classroom. The report was commissioned by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which is the accrediting agency for about half of the nation’s teacher training programs, including two dozen teacher programs in California.
“Teacher education has too often been segmented with subject-matter preparation, theory, and pedagogy taught in isolated intervals and too far removed from clinical practice. But teaching, like medicine, is a profession of practice,” the report concluded.
The report calls for higher standards for admitting candidates to teacher programs and for finding the best teacher practitioners to mentor prospective teachers in the classroom.
University programs should work much more closely with school districts in designing programs and in evaluating students. And the programs should be held accountable for producing effective teachers, as measured by their impact on student learning, including test scores, the report said.
There have been calls for drastically changing teacher training before, with little effect. But this report was assembled by a prestigious, diverse group of university administrators, teacher educators, reformers, and union leaders and won the cautious praise of one of the strongest critics of university programs, Arthur Levine, the retired president of Columbia University’s Teachers College.
The report challenges universities, where research is king, to hire more accomplished practitioners and raise their status on the faculty. That would lead to a big change in culture in many education schools. That’s why Reed’s commitment to follow through on the recommendations is significant. The 23 CSU campuses produce half of the state’s teachers.
However, the report also concluded that governors, state accrediting agencies and state superintendents also must be involved to remove policy barriers and help create a “new vision of teacher education.” No other California official signed on to the report. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which accredits 250 teacher preparation programs in the state, was not asked to, according to Terri Clark, administrator of the CTC’s professional services division.
Performance assessment requirement
Clark said that the CTC has moved state programs toward a clinical-practice model in recent years. And the report did cite as a national model the state’s new requirement that all teacher candidates pass a performance assessment. Prospective teachers must create a lesson plan, videotape the presentation of it, measure student learning from it, and analyze how it might be improved. PACT, as one version of it is called, was developed by CU, some CSU campuses and Stanford School of Education Professor Linda Darling-Hammond.
The report also praised the partnership between CSU Long Beach and Long Beach Unified, which has led to an unusually high retention rate of teachers in the district. The university’s graduates make up most of the district’s new teachers. The university, in turn, has listened to the district’s advice, according to Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser.
California is missing at least two elements recommended by the report: There are few professional development schools in districts that would serve as laboratories for teacher preparation programs, and there are no fellowship programs, as in other states, that target candidates for low-performing schools and pay them to hone their skills as interns for a year. That would cost money that the state at this point doesn’t have.
State leaders have talked for years about a data system that would measure the performance of ed schools by the effectiveness of the teachers they graduate. But the creation of CALTIDES, a teacher database that would complement CALPADS, the student longitudinal data system, is years away.