Strong Clinical Teacher Preparation a "MUST" For Long-Term School Improvement Efforts

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Contact: Patrick Riccards
Thursday, March 11, 2010 703-237-2554 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

AACTE Issues Call to Action for Federal Government, States, and Teacher Preparation Providers to Improve the Quality, Impact of Teaching Candidates

Washington, DC (March 11, 2010) – As the nation increases its focus on teacher quality and student achievement, a new policy brief from the nation's premier organization focused on effective teacher preparation finds that strong clinical preparation of teachers is a key factor in students' school success.

Through both qualitative and quantitative analyses, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) found good clinical experience yields positive effects. Such effects include increased student achievement, improved teacher retention, and an improved sense of teachers' preparedness.

According to AACTE, clinical preparation also has significant "impact on tomorrow's graduates and their – and the nation's – ability to compete in the challenging global economy and participate in a pluralistic democratic society."

"AACTE members have embraced enriched clinical development as the foundation for program innovation," AACTE President and CEO Sharon P Robinson said. "And we're not talking about the ‘student teaching' many of us experienced."

"Improving teacher quality is the single most important step we can take to raise student achievement. Ensuring our nation's teachers have the skills and training to be effective in the classroom is essential to providing students with a good education. As AACTE has underscored, clinical preparation is vital to effective teacher preparation," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who has authored several initiatives to help strengthen and improve college teacher preparation programs and offer high-quality, sustained mentoring and support for new teachers.

Presented as part of the first in a series of policy forums entitled Teacher Preparation: Who Needs It? designed to impact ongoing teacher education efforts, AACTE's The Clinical Preparation of Teachers: A Policy Brief identified three critical features of strong clinical teacher preparation, including: 1) tight integration among courses and between course work and clinical work in schools; 2) extensive and intensively supervised clinical work integrated with course work; and 3) close, proactive relationships with schools that serve diverse learners effectively and develop and model good teaching.

"A study of 15,500 education school alumni who graduated 10 to15 years ago is revealing. Seventy-five, percent reported having had only one semester or less of field experience. Yet they characterized that experience as ‘the most valuable aspect of my education program,'" the AACTE brief found. "The common denominator was their desire for more, longer, earlier, and better-integrated field work experiences."

Participants at AACTE's Teacher Preparation: Who Needs It? Forum at the National Press Club included U.S. Senator Jack Reed (RI), Gene Wilhoit of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Art Levine of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Brandeis University's Sharon Feiman-Nemser, and Arizona State University's Scott Ridley. The discussion also included Jason Silva, a special education teacher from Madison Heights School in Phoenix and Malcinia Conley, a clinical teacher with University of Colorado Denver and Montbello High School.

The entire policy brief can be found at www.aacte.org.  Based on the research, AACTE recommends a series of action steps for the federal government, state leaders, and providers of teacher preparation.

Specifically, the federal government should:

  • Revise the "Highly Qualified Teacher" definition within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to require that teachers must establish not only their content expertise, but their ability to teach it effectively, as measured by their actual performance in classrooms, following extended clinical experience;
  • Invest in the development of a National Teacher Performance Assessment that would parallel the development and adoption of Common Core Standards;
  • Maintain the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants, with a specific clinical preparation focus, in the Higher Education Opportunity Act while increasing funding for the program;

Specifically, state governments should:

  • Require a minimum of 450 hours, or one semester, of clinical experience during pre-service teacher preparation;
  • Ensure that all teacher preparation routes, regardless of pathway, include the same clinical preparation requirements;
  • Require a high-quality teacher performance assessment of all teacher candidates;
  • Collaborate to agree upon common clinical experience requirements;
  • Offer incentives to schools that act as clinical settings for teacher candidates; and
  • Support the expansion or replication of successful teacher residency programs.

"Through their teacher licensing authority, state education agencies have a vested interest in ensuring that teacher candidates have a level of mastery that demonstrates readiness to teach before they enter the classroom, CCSSO Executive Director Gene Wilhoit said. "This is why CCSSO has joined AACTE and Stanford University in an initiative to develop a model teacher performance assessment that requires pre-service candidates to provide authentic evidence of their ability to teach as a capstone event to their preparation program. Twenty states and over 60 preparation programs have joined the effort to develop and pilot test this new rigorous assessment that will be administered during the clinical component of the pre-service program."

Providers of teacher preparation should:

  • Ensure school districts and universities work jointly to design and supervise strong clinical practice collaborations;
  • Provide all teacher candidates substantial and appropriate clinical preparation prior to becoming "teacher of record" in their own classrooms;
  • Train clinical teachers and other teacher mentors to help and support novice teachers;
  • Require all clinical teachers to have at least three years of teaching experience; and
  • Assist our nation's public schools and teacher preparation programs to jointly adopt standards for newly redesigned clinically based teacher preparation programs.

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You Need to Know

  • State Policy Tracker

    The online tracker, available to AACTE members only, is an interactive tool to help you find state legislation and regulations related to educator preparation.

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  • AACTE Action Alerts

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  • Colleges of Education: A National Portrait

    The report provides a comprehensive picture of colleges of education: the work that they do, the people who do that work, and the students they serve.

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