Sunday, February 10, 2013

Teacher Preparation and Student Learning

Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and former president and professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, recently discussed his ideas about student learning and improving teacher preparation. He was recorded at a EWA's (Education Writers Association) 10/26/12 seminar entitled: "Ready to Teach: Rethinking Routes to the Classroom." Anyone interested in improving education for children should take a look at:

Among Levine's ideas:

  1. There should be a new focus on student learning instead of TPA's (Teacher Performance Assessments).
  2. Schools of education need to become professional schools - like medical school or law school.
  3. The US has moved from a national, analog, industrial economy to a global, digital, information economy and that our institutions (schools, media, government, healthcare, financial institutions) were created for the former but need to be refitted for the latter. 
  4. There should be alternative routes to teacher certification.
  5. Schools of education need to transform and, according to Levine, this will be very hard. He suggests: a. That there be a huge focus on field-based teacher education b. That the arts and sciences be integrated in the curricula. c. That there be 3 years of meaningful mentoring for novice teachers. d. That there be 3rd party, evidence-based assessment e. That schools of education have rigorous standards of admission and follow-up with rigorous coursework and significant clinical requirements
  6. Change will have to come from the political arena, state-by-state, to transform learning for students by improving schools of education.
  7. Entire universities, not just their schools of education, need to work in concert to make transformational changes.
  8. States can put "floors" on who gets into schools of education. Right now, he stated, university students training to be high school teachers are average students while elementary candidates are far worse. 
  9. Beginning teachers should be paid like beginning doctors, lawyers, and architects. We need to invest in teachers in the early part of their careers but pension obligations (based on defined benefits rather than defined contributions) are putting too much money at the end.
  10. Teachers unions will transform, like journalism and the media in general. He foresees changes in LIFO (last in first out), tenure, salary distribution among teachers within a district.

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