Most of the people connected with the kind of partnership envisioned here also would likely have academic and other responsibilities to their home institutions, which, like most jobs in education, might also be more than full time. Unless these contributors are provided with sufficient time and support to engage in the partnership, responsibility for it will probably fall on the shoulders of only a few. To prevent the destructive tensions such a situation can easily generate, all institutions that contribute to a partnership should consider some redefinition of contributors’ jobs to give them the time needed to be true collaborators.
The partnerships envisioned here call for new approaches to teaching and assessment of teaching and student learning. Many of the ideas espoused in the committee’s vision for improving teaching and learning may be at odds with current efforts in some districts and states to institute “high-stakes” standardized assessments for both students and teachers. The time required for teachers to prepare themselves and their students for increasing numbers of these examinations could compromise their ability to contribute to the partnership. In addition, the kinds and levels of questions that are being used in some of these tests (e.g., emphasis on facts and information vs. conceptual understanding) could undermine the kinds of teaching that the committee envisions would result as a result of the teacher education within these partnerships.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the committee acknowledges that achieving this vision will not be straightforward or easily accomplished. It will require fundamental rethinking and restructuring of the relationships between the K-12 and higher education communities in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology, including financial relationships. Building the kind of capacity that is needed to begin or to grow a partnership for teacher education as envisioned in this report will require a great deal of time and commitment from all parties. It also will require fundamental revamping of teaching as a profession.
Examples of efforts to work toward partnerships for teacher education are included throughout this report (see especially Appendixes D and E). These examples can serve as models for those who wish to begin or expand partnerships to improve teacher education at all phases of teachers’ careers.