Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TTU Focuses on Teacher Education

Karen Lykins contributes the following:

Dramatic quality assurance systems will soon be implemented in teacher education programs across the nation, and Tennessee Tech University’s College of Education is at the forefront of testing one of six national models.

In a Washington press conference this week, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education announced that more than 700 programs nationwide will soon have to develop transformation initiatives in order to receive accreditation.

Working with the Tennessee Board of Regents, Tennessee Tech piloted the Teaching Quality Initiative Teacher Education Redesign, which emphasizes case or problem-based learning, a modeling component, teacher enhancement and accountability. Sandy H. Smith, TTU’s director of teacher education, says the new initiatives will provide more useful data and research on what works in teacher education, and quality assurance will become a larger part of the accreditation process.

“One strong component is the teaching hospital model we are using,” said Smith. “Case or problem-based scenarios are used, and that’s fundamentally pushing teacher education in a new direction.”

TTU physics professor Stephen Robinson spearheads the efforts in the modeling component.

“Students who will become teachers should experience best practices in teaching while learning any subject, including math and science,” he said. “Our job is to provide professional development for all university faculty members and encourage them to model best practices in their own university classrooms.”

NCATE emphasizes that transformation in teacher education must include accountability based on data that directly reflects improvement in student learning. Smith says Tennessee Tech has been gathering data in an effort to follow graduates for three years after placement and evaluate their effectiveness in the classroom.

“What will ultimately make a difference is to follow all our teacher candidates and see how their preparation in our teacher education program has made a difference to their students,” she said. “We want to quantify the positive impact our teachers have and have a collaborative discussion on how to improve our preparation.”

Ultimately, NCATE anticipates funding to go to effective programs that produce results in improving P-12 student learning.