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"Promising Practices: New Ways to Improve Teacher Quality"



     
     PROMISING EFFORTS to improve *teacher quality* are described 
     in a report Secretary Riley announced in his back-to-school 
     speech last month.
     
     "Promising Practices: New Ways to Improve Teacher Quality" 
     describes characteristics -- & includes *profiles* -- of 
     promising...
     
       *  teacher recruitment initiatives
       *  teacher education programs
       *  ways to improve licensing & certification of teachers 
       *  induction programs for beginning teachers
       *  professional development programs 
       *  teacher accountability programs.
     
     Profiles include...
     
       >  a school district that improved its test scores by
          working with the local university to improve teacher 
          education.  (El Paso school district & the University of 
          Texas in El Paso)
     
       >  a college where students see their level of attainment
          (each semester) based on their essays, letters, position 
          papers, case study analyses, observations of both master 
          teachers & of students, and simulations & development of 
          curriculum materials.  Their student teaching experience 
          is preceded by extensive work with students, & their 
          performance as a student teacher is evaluated by a panel 
          of faculty & school personnel.  (Alverno College)
     
       >  a 5-year teacher education program where students earn a
          B.S. in education & a bachelor's degree in a discipline 
          (and 18 graduate credits), spend 5-6 quarters in field 
          work, & earn up to 90 credits in a subject matter.  They 
          also spend 36 weeks in a Professional Practice School as 
          a student teacher.  (University of Cincinnati's 
          Initiative for Teacher Education)
     
     The report tells that more than 2 million teachers will need 
     to be hired during the next decade to match the enrollment 
     growth in U.S. elementary & secondary classrooms (3 million 
     more students are expected in America's public & private 
     schools by 2007).  It also cites a finding from the National 
     Commission on Teaching & America's Future's report, "What 
     Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future" -- that fewer 
     than 75 percent of America's teachers can be considered *fully 
     qualified* (that is, having studied child development, 
     learning, & teaching methods; holding degrees in their subject 
     areas; and having passed state licensure requirements).
     
     The full text of the 66-page report is at:
          http://www.ed.gov/pubs/PromPractice/index.html
     
     Below are 2 complete profiles from the report.  
     
*********************************************************** 
"Promising Practices:  New Ways to Improve Teacher Quality" 
U.S. Department of Education, September 1998 
***********************************************************
     
 =================================
 South Carolina Center For Teacher
 Recruitment:  Teacher Cadet Corps
 =================================
     
          "In part, the Teacher Cadet Program's success is found in 
          providing students meaningful opportunities to learn 
          about & engage in teaching."
     
                         Research report on the Teacher Cadet Corps 
     
     To ensure a qualified teaching force necessary for the 
     comprehensive education reforms adopted in South Carolina, the 
     state legislature & then-Governor Richard Riley established 
     the South Carolina Center for Teacher Recruitment at Winthrop 
     University in 1986.  Starting with a blank slate, the center 
     quickly filled & began a series of focused efforts to recruit 
     highly qualified young people, especially minority students, 
     into the teaching profession.
     
     The center drew on the expertise of current teachers to design 
     the recruitment efforts & to carry them out in high schools 
     throughout the state.  Its most well-known program, adapted by 
     a dozen other states, is the Teacher Cadet Program.
     
     At 148 high schools, teachers volunteer to conduct a yearlong 
     course open to interested students with a high grade-point 
     average.  This is not a typical high school offering -- it is 
     a mixture of solid content (history of education, principles 
     of learning, child development, current issues in education) & 
     hands-on opportunities to observe, construct lessons plans, 
     tutor younger students, & practice teaching.  A 600-page 
     handbook written & constantly modified by teachers serves as 
     the core curriculum for all of the high school classes.  It 
     contains suggestions for course content as well as engaging 
     assignments such as designing an ideal early childhood 
     environment or presenting evidence at a school board meeting.
     
     Almost 20 partner higher education institutions provide 
     lecturers and, in some cases, college credit for the high 
     school course.  Also, several Teachers-In-Residence receive 
     fellowships each year to supervise the program from the center 
     & "ride circuit" among the participating high schools.  One of 
     these Teachers-In-Residence focuses exclusively on recruiting 
     minority students for the center's programs.
     
   Pro-Team Program
   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
     
     A second initiative is the Pro-Team Program for middle school 
     students.  Through a course & club activities, it recruits 
     seventh- & eighth-graders in the top 40 percent of their 
     classes, hoping to interest them in teaching before they get 
     turned off to a teaching career.  Through the 1997-98 school 
     year, the Pro-Team Program had introduced more than 7,000 
     students to teaching; approximately 65 percent were from 
     minority groups.  One unique feature of this initiative is a 
     teacher-developed curriculum for a workshop for parents of the 
     Pro-Team students.  Parents then have avenues for more 
     involvement, such as supporting Pro-Team Clubs or accompanying 
     students on college campus visits.
     
   Measures of Success
   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
     
     By the end of the 1997-98 school year, about 21,000 
     academically talented young people were graduates of the 
     Teacher Cadet Program in South Carolina.  About 35 percent of 
     them are teaching or are in teacher preparation programs.  In 
     addition, South Carolina has become the only southeastern 
     state with an increase in the number of minorities entering 
     teaching, almost tripling the number between the 1988-89 & 
     1994-95 school years.
     
     The success of the recruitment programs turns up in more than 
     numbers.  Outside evaluators have studied the program 
     regularly, finding that former Cadets were more realistic 
     about the conditions of teaching & entered college with a 
     jump-start in the content of teacher education programs. 
     Their knowledge has raised standards for their classmates, 
     according to professors in teacher education.  Those teaching 
     also reported at a higher rate than beginning teachers 
     nationally that they were likely to remain in the profession.
     
     After two years of working with 47 Pro-Team sites around the 
     state, the 1995-97 Pro-Team Specialist Libby Ortmann was 
     buoyed by the dedication of teachers to "growing their own" in 
     South Carolina.  She said the teachers who sponsor the 
     Pro-Team & Teacher Cadet programs are "modeling every day what 
     it will take to prepare the next generation of classroom 
     teachers."
     
     The center's work has expanded to include a college hotline 
     for prospective students, a job bank for school districts in 
     the state, & a Teacher Forum intended to encourage leadership 
     & retention among current teachers.  The Forum brings together 
     the teachers-of the-year from school districts for conferences 
     & other collaborative activities.  More than 500 teachers are 
     in the Forum now, & regional forums have been organized as 
     well.
     
 ======================================== 
 The Continuum for Quality in Connecticut 
 ========================================
     
          "Connecticut Standards (for entry into teaching) overall 
          are the most rigorous in the country."
                                           Report, Connecticut State
                                             Department of Education
     
     In 1986 Connecticut took dramatic action to ensure teacher 
     quality throughout the state.  Its Education Enhancement Act 
     addressed the problem of the inability of poorer districts to 
     attract & retain qualified teachers, by providing state 
     subsidies based on salary levels that would make teaching 
     competitive with other occupations with similar education 
     requirements.  At the same time, the act significantly raised 
     the standards for becoming a teacher in Connecticut.
     
     Over the years, other components have been added to the effort 
     to ensure quality teaching, but standards are always at the 
     heart of each addition.  The state has designed a three-tiered 
     process to become fully certified -- initial, provisional, & 
     professional.  Prospective teachers must pass a basic skills 
     test (currently the Praxis I computer-based tests developed by 
     the Educational Testing Service) as well as a test in their 
     specific subject area (Praxis II or a state test, CONNECT, for 
     elementary teachers) at the end of their preparation in order 
     to receive initial certification.  They then enter the 
     Beginning Educator Support & Training (BEST) program.
     
     Through BEST teachers are assigned a mentor for the first year 
     of teaching.  In the second year they complete a performance 
     assessment based on the Interstate New Teacher Assessment & 
     Support Consortium (INTASC) standards & modeled after the 
     National Board for Professional Teaching Standards portfolio 
     process.  Successful completion of this phase leads to a 
     provisional certificate.
     
     The same standards now apply to experienced teachers as well. 
     In order to renew their certificates every five years, 
     practicing teachers must prepare portfolios that follow the 
     INTASC & National Board standards.  Connecticut also designed 
     an alternate route program for prospective teachers entering 
     from other careers.  They participate in the BEST program for 
     two years to qualify for a provisional certificate, then must 
     meet the requirements for professional certification.
     
     Initially, some critics of the changes feared that the higher 
     standards would discourage teaching candidates.  However, 
     during the first five years of Connecticut's plan for renewal 
     of the teaching force, the number of first-time exam-takers 
     increased threefold, indicating an increase in the candidates 
     for teaching.  Furthermore, their pass rate rose consistently 
     & the median SAT score of those who applied for teacher 
     education programs increased considerably.  Within three 
     years, Connecticut had eliminated teacher shortages around the 
     state, & recent studies show a steady climb in student 
     achievement.  For example, the most recent results from the 
     state's student achievement tests show an increase in the 
     number of high school students achieving at high levels in one 
     or more academic areas.  The average math score is the highest 
     it has been on the SAT in 22 years.
     
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          Peter Kickbush & Kirk Winters 
          U.S. Department of Education
          kirk_winters@ed.gov