National Panel Lauds Teacher Prep Here

Long Beach’s teacher preparation system is a national model, according to a report this week calling for America’s teacher education programs to be revamped.

A panel commissioned by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) released the report at a Washington, D.C. news conference, calling for teacher education programs to shift away from an emphasis on preparation that is loosely linked to school-based experiences.  Instead, “clinical practice should be placed at the center of teacher preparation,” NCATE asserts.  Schools need to adopt a new staffing model patterned after medical preparation, in which teachers, mentors and coaches, and teacher interns and residents work together as part of teams, the report suggests.

“This new vision of preparation will require the development of partnerships with school districts in which teacher education becomes a shared responsibility between P-12 schools and higher education,” NCATE states.  In Long Beach, however, such partnerships with higher education have been long established.

“A long-standing partnership between the Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach City College (LBCC), Cal State Long Beach and 46 community organizations has addressed everything from student transitions and institutional alignment to development,” states the report titled Transforming Teacher Education through Clinical Practice:  A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers.

The Long Beach partnerships, with financial support from local businesses, are getting results, the report states:

“The initiative has increased graduation rates in schools as well as enrollment and graduation rates from the participating colleges.  The partnership has also found that California State University Long Beach teacher graduates are more prepared to address the needs of local students and, therefore are employed at a higher rate than graduates from other teacher preparation programs.  Through the work of the partnership, the school district has cut their teacher turnover rate down to 7 percent, which is 13 percentage points better than the national average for urban school districts as reported by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.  Long Beach State teacher graduates fill approximately three-quarters of those vacancies each year and stay in the field of teaching longer than the national average.”

Many of the report’s other recommendations have been implemented in Long Beach, including a new teacher program designed in collaboration with higher education, early clinical field work as early as a university student’s freshman year, and a requirement that aspiring elementary teachers complete 120 service learning hours in classrooms as part of their preparation.

California is one of eight states that has agreed to implement the recommendations.  As part of the NCATE Alliance for Clinical Teacher Preparation, these states will work with national experts to pilot new models of clinical preparation.  Working with NCATE and other organizations, including the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, the Association of Teacher Educators, national teachers' unions and their state and local affiliates, the Alliance also will learn from other states working to transform teacher education.

NCATE issued its latest report after convening a national “Blue Ribbon Panel,” a coalition of more than 30 organizations.  LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser was one of two K-12 superintendents to serve on the panel.

Read the full report at ncate.org.