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Teacher Preparation Project Focuses on Certification Programs

Atlanta — November 12, 1997

How teachers are being prepared to meet the rigors of today’s classrooms was the subject of an in-depth presentation to the Board of Regents Strategic Planning Committee today, when the board convened for its monthly meeting.

The presentation was the second installment of an intensive review of the University System’s role in educating the state’s teachers, a Board of Regents’ initiative that will unfold throughout the current academic year.

Board members were treated to a primer from Dr. James Muyskens, senior vice chancellor of academic affairs for the University System of Georgia, labeled “Teacher Preparation 101.” Dr. Lloyd Newberry, dean of the College of Education at Armstrong Atlantic State University; Dr. Curtis Martin, dean of the School of Education at Fort Valley State University; and Dr. Sam Dietz, dean of the College of Education at Georgia State University, also participated in the presentation, providing details regarding existing preparation models and the standards by which they operate.

In addition, the board was provided a briefing on the preparation of high-school teachers at the University of Georgia. Participants included two members of the UGA education faculty, Dr. Sally Hudson-Ross and Dr. Peg Graham; who were joined by a Master Teacher from the K-12 sector, Dr. Patti McWhorter; and Ms. Meredith Miller, a current teacher candidate enrolled in the program.

The final briefing on early childhood education was presented by a team from Georgia State University, which included Dr. Brenda Galina, chair of the Department of Early Childhood Education; Dr. Carol Foster, associate professor; and Dr. Molly Weinburgh, assistant professor.

The presentations all addressed the focus question: “what happens when you enter a teacher preparation program?” Detailed information included admissions criteria for the University System’s teacher preparation programs, advising practices, and the curriculum components for secondary, middle and early childhood education programs.

Muyskens said the ultimate purpose of the teacher preparation study is to improve student learning and achievement, beginning with prekindergarten and continuing through the twelfth grade. “If we want students to perform at high levels,” he stated, “then it is essential to assess what the teachers know and what performance expectations they must meet to help students succeed. Therefore, we are evaluating our current preparation practices so that any future recommendations will be informed by present-day classroom and campus realities.”

Undergraduate students admitted into the teacher education programs must meet the following criteria: completion of 60 quarter hours of study in the liberal arts core curriculum, pass the Regents’ Exam, pass a national basic skills exam, pass a written and oral screening, have completed 10 hours of volunteer service in an educational setting, provide letters of recommendation from faculty, and pass a criminal background check. Once admitted into a teacher preparation program, students are paired with faculty mentors and receive additional advising services in the areas of career counseling and development or a program of study.

The University System’s early childhood education majors are prepared to teach all subjects in Grades Pre-K through 5. Students who declare their intention to teach at the middle-grades level are prepared to teach from one to several subjects in Grades 4 through 8. Secondary education majors are prepared to teach specific subjects (which are noted on their certification) in Grades 7 through 12. The curriculum is shaped around four components: the liberal arts core, which all University System students complete; courses in the subject(s) students plan to teach in the arts and sciences, which help students learn what to teach; courses in the school or college of education, which focus on how to teach; and courses which emphasize how to teach specific coursework, i.e., how to teach math.

In addition to completing the prescribed number of courses for the various education majors, all students must develop a portfolio which includes: videos of them teaching in a P-12 classroom, completed child studies, letters of recommendation, demonstration of proficiency with technology, and demonstration of completion of program standards in the major or certification area.

University System education programs now are connected to the Board of Regents’ P-16 activities, aimed at co-reform of teacher education and P-12 schools. Through this initiative, education students are benefiting from a number of changes in the schools and colleges of arts and sciences that improve the quality of student programs such as advising, curriculum development, career counseling and other measures.

Nationally, 1,200 teacher education programs are currently in operation, 500 of which are accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. All 15 of the University System’s teacher education programs are included among those 17 currently accredited in Georgia.

NCATE accreditation acknowledges that all teacher education faculty must have at least three years of prior teaching experience in the K-12 sector’s classrooms. In addition, all teacher preparation students must: have a minimum 2.5 grade point average in the core curriculum for admission into the program; complete field experiences in all grade levels included in their certification(s); complete field experiences in ethnically and socio-economically diverse settings; and experience strong arts and sciences/education collaboration within their program.

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