Tenn. Part of National Pilot on Teacher Education

By The Associated Press, Nashville, Tenn.

Eight Tennessee universities are taking part in a pilot program aimed at producing better school teachers.

About 500 students in education programs statewide will have to demonstrate classroom skills before they’ll be licensed to teach, The Tennessean reports.

“Starting out, new teachers have grand ideas, but then reality hits you that you’re not there yet,” said Nicole Barrick Renner, who graduated from Vanderbilt University in May.

Renner is one of the students who passed the harder Teacher Performance Assessments program.

Teacher candidates must make videos of their classroom presentations, write lesson plans and measure what students have learned. If the pilot program is successful, states could begin adopting the requirements as early as 2012, said Susan Petroff, senior director of programs and development at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

“Just because you know the content does not automatically mean you will be an effective teacher,” Petroff said. “The profession, in all of education, is being called on to make changes, to make certain we have more kids who are performing at grade level, that the achievement gap needs to be closed and we are preparing our kids for the 21st Century.”

Petroff said if teachers aren’t effective in communicating the subjects, their student won’t be ready to go to college and there will continue to be wide achievement gaps among different classrooms.

In most states, teaching candidates must now pass a multiple-choice exam, be observed as student teachers and do small education projects.

Nearly 100 colleges and universities are testing the new Teacher Performance Assessments model nationwide.

In Tennessee, those participating include Vanderbilt University, University of Memphis, East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech University, Austin Peay State University and University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

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