The Three Most Significant Trends and Developments in Education that Impact Today’s Teachers
Education reform has been a long and broad-scoped process. It’s touched on everything from classroom procedure to classroom design. Of course, teachers themselves have been a major focus of educational reform. Over the years, the three most significant trends that affected educators have fallen under the categories of:
1. Teacher Education Reforms
The need for teacher education reforms was an important part of the Nation at Risk report. Apart from the low levels of student attainment that the report brought to light, there was also condemnation of teacher training across the United States. A major criticism was that teacher education programs focused too much on teaching methods and not enough on the subject matter teachers would eventually teach in classrooms.
The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) has developed a detailed list of professional standards for the licensing of new teachers, describing what new teachers should know, how they should perform, and the necessary dispositions for effective teaching. The standards transcend all of the subject areas and the grade levels. And most colleges and universities use the InTASC standards to voice their expectations required for new teachers.
Over the last 4 years, research has shown positive results of collaboration between teaching universities and colleges and the elementary and secondary schools their graduates will eventually staff. Such collaborations are called professional development schools. These schools can provide a number of benefits for teaching education candidates. In particular, they can help students who intend to teach in urban environments and who may encounter diverse scenarios, such as the attendance of gang members, for which they would be otherwise ill-equipped. As a result, graduates are better prepared for the specific challenges they face when entering the urban schools. Applying this logic and practice to rural or suburban schools shows similar results, indicating that context in education is an important aspect of a teaching education student’s pre-service career.
Another important factor to consider in attracting graduates into the teaching profession is addressing the issue of teacher salaries. Although this issue is pertinent to teachers who are already in service, it is worthwhile to note that research shows that offering more money to educators attracts a higher caliber of educator to the teaching profession. The increase in teacher salaries could also improve the perceived prestige attached to the teaching profession as a whole.
But it’s not enough to simply reform teacher undergraduate education. Continuous attention should also be paid to the ongoing professional development of teachers while they are actively a part of the teaching workforce. This need not be costly, because all school districts already have at least several effective and highly experienced teachers who could be given the opportunity to share their expertise with other teachers. Local education professors could also be called on to give workshops and seminars on research in teaching practice.
2. Alternative Teacher Education Programs
Alternative teacher education programs have emerged rapidly across the United States over the past decade. These programs were precipitated by calls for changes in teacher education programs, as well as to relieve teacher shortages in certain subject areas and in certain regions of the nation. All programs must meet state teacher education program standards and requirements. Generally, alternative programs target experienced professionals with a strong background in the relevant subject and attempt to accelerate candidates’ access to classrooms by providing as much on-the-job training as possible. Candidates are able to gain entry into some alternative programs as long as they have a 4-year degree. Such programs require short, concentrated education training, with internships and direction from experienced or mentor teachers. Alternative programs occur under strict guidance from university and education experts.
A major criticism of alternative teacher education programs is that they focus on quantity and addressing teacher shortages in certain licensure/subject matter areas, rather than production of quality teachers. Despite criticisms, the numbers of alternative teacher education programs continue to grow.
3. The Teacher Education Accreditation Council
In 2010, the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) agreed to consolidate educator accreditation under the umbrella of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Because of the similarities of their missions and accreditation philosophies, it was only natural that these two organizations would eventually merge.
The Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation’s (CAEP) mission is to raise the quality of teacher education programs, while also serving as the paragon of excellence in teacher education accreditation. They plan to do this by setting high standards, requiring programs to submit evidence of program effectiveness, and creating an atmosphere of continuous improvement. During the creation of CAEP, its creators tapped into multiple perspectives in a quest to transcend the status quo and usher in a new era of teacher education.
This is an ongoing process, and at the present time, no date has been given for the completion of this merger. This new agency will play the primary role in teacher accreditation moving forward.