Teacher CertificationThe whole issue of teacher certification is one of great importance andwhen discussed must be done in a delicate and thoughtful manner. The reason forthis increasing importance is because the education of our nation’s teachers isimportant to the creation of an ideal education system, which is one of thegoals of our national government and State governments. Over the years thewhole educational reform movement has become an increasingly “hot” topic.Reforms in the administration of school systems and in curriculum theory andpractice have been asked for and a4re currently being put into effect. Recently,reform of the education of teachers is being added to the lo9ng list of reformsneeded.
Many reform activists feel that direct changes need to be made on themethods of training and certifying the teachers of our country. Before lookingat the reform movement, however, one must first look at the so called problem ofinconsistency in teacher certification.In our country today there is a general consistency among therequirements for state certification of teachers. Most states require theirteacher institutions to establish a teacher education program that includescoursework and fieldwork.
The coursework includes those courses that prepare astudent to become a professional teacher and those classes that include majorand minor fields of specialization. Fieldwork, which is probably the mostimportant of the two forms of requirements, involves the individual interestedin being a teacher going out and observing, practicing, and preparing to enterthe educational world as an instructor. There is no argument that all schoolsin every state has these basic requirements of teacher certification. However,the inconsistency lies within how the numerous institutions go about in teachingthese requirements. Each post-secondary school is given the jurisdiction tochoose how they are going to go about meeting these basic teacher certificationrequirements. For example, many states require a different amount of fieldhours. An inconsistency can also be seen in the various models of teachereducation that are used throughout the nation.
Two education researchers,Howey and Zimpher conducted a study on this variety of models in 1989. Theycame up with three different attempts of teacher training. The first, known asthe teacher’s college model, involves certification students entering a separateschool within a university that is a “teacher’s college”.
The second approachis called the liberal arts model by the researchers, and is a method thatrequires and individual to become specialized in a certain liberal arts subjectin order to create “capable and cultured human beings”. The third and finalmodel discussed by Howley and Zimpher is entitled the competency-based model.This method trains individuals in the arts o motivation and understanding. Asone can see by this case study, there have been a variety of approaches toteacher certification. An inconsistency can similarly be detected by looking atthe various new and innovative ideas in teacher education.
Among these includethe alternative route, a topic discussed earlier, and the five-year degreeprogram, and issue to be discussed shortly in this section. Altogether, onecould state that there is some inconsistency in teacher certification, and thisinconsistency brings about a small problem in the educational spectrum of ourworld. In my opinion, there is no national and universal set of requirementsfor teacher certification. The variety of different methods and forms ofteacher education programs is causing an inconsistency in how teachers are beingtrained nationwide. When this is realized, the whole issue of reforming teachercertification becomes very relevant to our society.As stated earlier, reforms in the training of future teachers arebeginning to really be requested by the general public. Various groups have metto discuss the various issues surrounding the reform movement.
Among the mostnotable are the Holmes Group, the Association of American Colleges of TeacherEducation (AACTE), the Education Commission of the States (ECS), and Goodlad’sgroup. These various groups and many others have come up with a variety ofreforms and new standards that most likely should and will be integrated intothe current teacher certification requirements. One certain similarity that allof these recommendations have with each other is that they all call for higherregulations and an increase in the education of future teachers. Many of thegroup0s called for an increase in providing individuals knowledge on theprofession of teachi8ng, and some groups also called for a more intense trainingin the various fields under a liberal arts education. Increases in the amountof fieldwork required seems to also be a major issue discussed by the reformgroups.
The issue of selection under standardized testing was also discussed,with respect to increasing the required SAT/ACT or GRE scores. Finally, theresearch groups came up with various new ideas involving the creation ofprofessional teaching schools or tiered systems that would require a teacher togo through more training even after they received their bachelor’s degree. Allin all, these reform groups have come up with some very unique and interestingideas to change teacher certification for the better. It is the best interestof our nation to make changes in our current teacher education program, for, inthis case, change would be for the better. To conclude, I would like to take abrief but in depth look at an innovative idea established by the Maine StateDepartment of Education in conjunction with the University of Southern Maine.
This program, entitled the Extended Teacher Education Program, involves futureteachers continuing on for a fifth year after completing their undergraduatestudies. This fifth year involves the individual taking part in internships.These internships give the future teachers a chance at more fieldwork in orderto gain more experiences before they become full fledged teachers. Nonetheless,the results of the initial year of the program seem to indicate that the ideaaround this new program is a successful one. Those individuals who took part inthe program obtained various skills and understandings that all ideal teachersshould have. The excellent outcomes of this program leads one to believe thatit might be a good idea to implement this structure nationwide.
The idea ofcreating professional schools for teachers has become a popular one in recenttimes. After all if doctors and lawyers have to go to a professional school,then shouldn’t teachers as well?In conclusion, the issue of teacher training and certification brings upmany questions, especially in reference to reforming. The inconsistent andsomewhat outdated education of teachers today needs change, in order to createan ideal educational system.
Numerous reforms have been discussed andrecommended by various research organizations and now is the time to take actionand implement some of these reforms before our education systems continue tofall downwards into the depths of degradation. Change I needed and change mustcome now.