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Teacher Preparation Action Items Approved by Regents

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Atlanta — July 8, 1998

The Board of Regents’ year-long study aimed at improving the quality of teachers and their ability to enhance student learning has culminated with the passage of an “actions” document that spells out how all future teachers will be prepared within the University System.

The proposed actions, initially presented last month to the Board of Regents for first reading, were formally approved today for implementation within the University System’s 15 teacher preparation programs. The move represents the further forging of a collaborative compact between the University System and the P-12 schools to facilitate enhanced preparation of the state’s teachers, and thereby, student performance.

“We have had two over-arching goals during this entire process,” stated Dr. Jan Kettlewell, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs with the Board of Regents, “and they are how we can strengthen teachers’ knowledge in subjects they are going to teach, and how we can assure that teachers will be able to positively impact student learning in the classroom. In each of those areas, we have made major progress; the steps that have been taken should assure greater teacher and student success at all levels.”

Kettlewell said that what is different about the University System’s newly adopted strategy is that the previous focus had been totally on the input side – what courses future teachers should take and what field experiences they should have. “That approach required a total leap of faith, because future teachers were not required to demonstrate their ability to impact student learning,” Kettlewell stated. “Our goal now is to make the demonstration of abilities much more concrete prior to certification.”

Partnership with the P-12 community is a critical component of the initiative’s future success, because the two-pronged focus “emphasizes the preparation of new teachers as well as the continued professional development of today’s teaching force,” according to Kettlewell.

Within the University System structure, the Office of Academic Affairs will distribute institutional guidelines and a schedule for implementing the adopted principles and actions to campus officials. Implementation will be facilitated via a three-way partnership consisting of the system’s 15 teacher preparation programs, the colleges and schools of arts and sciences, and the P-12 sector. The collaborative actions items will be facilitated via the Georgia P-16 Council’s Teachers and Teacher Education Committee.

In terms of the timeline, some of the initiatives will take effect in the coming year, such as increased focus on the use of HOPE teacher education incentives and the System-wide reading endorsement. Other initiatives, such as redesign of the academic curriculum for new teacher preparation, will have varying timelines for implementation beginning as early as Fall 1999.

University System officials hope to conduct a marketing effort to attract high-quality students to the teaching profession by increasing awareness of the scholarships available at the undergraduate and graduate levels for students and current teachers pursing degrees and advanced certification. The reading project will be conducted by a consortium of collaborating universities, with the first course conducted this fall via the distance learning network. Additional course offerings are set for the spring and fall, all aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of reading instruction.

Proposals aimed at establishing leadership academies and charter schools and the Business-to-Teaching initiative, will need to await the outcomes of state budget funding requests and/or private sector contributions, and therefore will move toward fruition in the next fiscal year.

According to Kettlewell, there were many positive outcomes of the system’s commitment to invigorate the teacher education programs with new initiatives and requirements – among the most vital is the financial support of the new priorities that have been identified.

“It’s very good that the Board of Regents and the chancellor recognize that some items will have a need for increased funding, from both state and private sources, in order to implement them,” Kettlewell said. “My belief is that support is based on the coherence of our principles, and how the entire initiative has been intentionally woven together to have significant impact.”

“The bottom line is that our focus has been and will continue to be on results,” Kettlewell stated. “The essence of the guarantees that we are making is that our teachers will really know how to get results from their students and they will have demonstrated that prior to graduation.”

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