Background

The National Science Education Standards create a vision of classrooms as environments where students learn through both mental and physical activity. The science education envisioned in the Standards requires substantive change in how science is taught in K-12 classrooms, and equally substantive change in the professional development of teachers. For this vision to become a reality, teachers themselves must experience good science teaching in their professional development programs. Policies and criteria for licensure of teachers must reflect how science is learned and how science should be taught. Specifically, teacher preparation and credentialing need to be consistent with the National Science Education Standards.

On February 4-6, 1996, representatives of departments of education and major teacher education colleges in 39 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Department of Defense met at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., to identify and discuss issues surrounding preparation and credentialing of teachers of science. Central to this symposium were the criteria identified by the Standards for effective science teaching and for effective professional development for teachers of science.

Goals established for the symposium were for state teams to

  • increase their understanding of the National Science Education Standards;

  • explore the impact of the Standards on teacher preparation programs;

  • identify and discuss goals, effective strategies for change, and ongoing challenges related to teacher education and certification within their state; and

  • develop plans for statewide implementation of Standards-based teacher preparation programs.

The symposium did not produce formal recommendations. Because the Standards clearly state that the responsibility for policy rests with the state and local school systems, the agenda was structured to allow state teams to define their needs, to consider strategies for improving their policies and programs in



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Improving Teacher Preparation and Credentialing Consistent with the National Science Education Standards: Report of a Symposium Background The National Science Education Standards create a vision of classrooms as environments where students learn through both mental and physical activity. The science education envisioned in the Standards requires substantive change in how science is taught in K-12 classrooms, and equally substantive change in the professional development of teachers. For this vision to become a reality, teachers themselves must experience good science teaching in their professional development programs. Policies and criteria for licensure of teachers must reflect how science is learned and how science should be taught. Specifically, teacher preparation and credentialing need to be consistent with the National Science Education Standards. On February 4-6, 1996, representatives of departments of education and major teacher education colleges in 39 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Department of Defense met at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., to identify and discuss issues surrounding preparation and credentialing of teachers of science. Central to this symposium were the criteria identified by the Standards for effective science teaching and for effective professional development for teachers of science. Goals established for the symposium were for state teams to increase their understanding of the National Science Education Standards; explore the impact of the Standards on teacher preparation programs; identify and discuss goals, effective strategies for change, and ongoing challenges related to teacher education and certification within their state; and develop plans for statewide implementation of Standards-based teacher preparation programs. The symposium did not produce formal recommendations. Because the Standards clearly state that the responsibility for policy rests with the state and local school systems, the agenda was structured to allow state teams to define their needs, to consider strategies for improving their policies and programs in

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Improving Teacher Preparation and Credentialing Consistent with the National Science Education Standards: Report of a Symposium teacher preparation, and to work on translating the teaching and professional development standards into practice. Break-out groups followed each presentation to encourage in-depth discussion from diverse perspectives. Each day also included time for state teams to meet, exchange experiences from the break-out groups, discuss issues, and incorporate this information into their state action plans. Following the symposium, team leaders reviewed the action plans with their respective departments of education. The synopsis that follows is intended to encourage reflection by participants and their colleagues at the state level on the issues identified, reactions to those issues from a variety of perspectives, and strategies for addressing those issues as outlined by others. This report also will serve as a self-monitoring tool for states. Which actions were successful? Which actions needed to be reconsidered or revised? Will some of the actions require more time, money, or personnel? Reviewing the action plans from all state teams can also serve as a tool for others who have yet to begin addressing the need to examine and reform policy and practice in teacher education and certification.