NCATE convened the Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning to explore the transformations education preparation programs need to make in order to prepare teachers to meet the demands of today’s students, classrooms, and schools. The panel includes national education leaders, policy makers, education school deans, and vocal critics of teacher preparation.
The report released November 16, 2010 presents recommendations for change to produce high quality teacher preparation programs by making clinical practices and partnerships with school districts a priority. In the executive summary of the report, Transforming Teacher Education Through Clinical Practice: A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers, the Blue Ribbon Panel summarizes the five recommendations:
- More Rigorous Accountability.
All teacher education programs should be accountable for – and their accreditation contingent upon – how well they address the needs of schools and help improve P-12 student learning. This will require more rigorous monitoring and enforcement for program approval and accreditation according to a clear and definite timeline and holding all programs to the same high standards. School districts will have a more significant role in designing and implementing teacher education programs, selecting candidates for placement in their schools, and assessing candidate performance and progress.
- Strengthening Candidate Selection and Placement.
In order to make teacher education programs more selective and diverse, the selection process must take into consideration not only test scores but key attributes that lead to effective teachers. We urge states and the federal government to develop opportunities for teacher candidates to work in hard-to-staff schools through a “matching” program similar to that developed by the American Association for Medical Colleges for placing medical school graduates in teaching hospitals for internships and residencies. The report calls for clinical internships to take place in school settings that are structured and staffed to support teacher learning and student achievement. We also call on states and districts to require that candidates be supervised and mentored by effective practitioners, coaches, and clinical faculty. Clinical faculty – drawn from higher education and the P-12 sector – will have a say about whether teacher candidates are ready to enter the classroom on the basis of the candidate’s performance and student outcomes.
- Revamping Curricula, Incentives, and Staffing.
It is time to fundamentally redesign preparation programs to support the close coupling of practice, content, theory, and pedagogy. Preparation faculty and mentor teachers should routinely be expected to model appropriate uses of assessment to enhance learning. We also call for significant changes in the reward structure in academe and the staffing models of P-12 schools to value clinical teaching and support effective mentoring and improvement in clinical preparation. Higher education must develop and implement alternative reward structures that enhance and legitimize the role of clinical faculty and create dual assignments for faculty with an ongoing role as teachers and mentors in schools.
Similarly, school districts can work with preparation program partners to advance new staffing models patterned after teaching hospitals, which will enable clinical faculty, mentors, coaches, teacher interns and residents to work together to better educate students and prospective teachers as part of clinical practice teams. This report also urges the development of rigorous criteria for the preparation, selection, and certification of clinical faculty and mentors.
- Supporting Partnerships.
State policies should provide incentives for such partnership arrangements, and should remove any inhibiting legal or regulatory barriers. This will require new financial incentives that would reward expansion of these partnerships. Incentives also should reward programs that produce graduates who do want to teach and are being prepared in fields where there is market demand. Universities should ensure that their teacher education programs are treated like other professional programs, and get their fair share of funding from the revenues they generate to support the development of clinically based programs.
- Expanding the Knowledge Base to Identify What Works and Support Continuous Improvement.
Currently, there is not a large research base on what makes clinical preparation effective. We urge the federal and state government and philanthropy to invest in new research to support the development and continuous improvement of new models and to help determine which are the most effective. NCATE* should facilitate a national data network among interested collaborators — states, institutions, school districts and others — to help gather and disseminate what we learn from this research. Partnerships need this information on a continuing basis to trace the progress of their own programs and make day-to-day decisions. Sharing this information across the nation will help to shape future research as well as public policies on preparation.
Ohio is one of the eight states who have signed a letter of intent to implement the recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Panel. For more information, read the full Blue Ribbon Panel report: Transforming Teacher Education Through Clinical Practice: A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers.