States, 2000). Many of these state initiatives are based at least in part on the national standards. Thus, a growing consensus is emerging about the science and mathematics content that all students in grades K-12 should know, understand, and be able to do to prepare themselves for living and working in the 21st century.

While there continues to be a recognized need to improve the content of science and mathematics education for K-12 students, a near revolution in understanding human learning has been taking place through the emerging field of cognitive science. This research, summarized recently by a study committee of the National Research Council (1999d), indicates that teachers should incorporate content-appropriate methods of teaching that improve their students’ chances of knowing and understanding content in areas such as mathematics. This new understanding, coupled with research that substantiates the importance of guiding beginning teachers so that they learn to employ a variety of instructional practices, implies the need for and benefit of sound preparation in both subject matter and pedagogical training for prospective teachers (Stoddard and Floden, 1995; Ball, 1997).

Concomitant with the reform of content in K-12 science and mathematics and knowledge about how people learn, there have been calls for restructuring teacher preparation and professional development. The leading proponents of education reform have argued that the attainment of high standards for students—standards that demand understanding and the ability to perform—will be unlikely until teachers are educated in ways that enable them to implement and teach curricula that are consistent with the vision, goals, and content of the national standards. If children are to be able to engage in inquiry and problem solving as they learn science and mathematics, then surely their teachers also need to experience and practice inquiry and problem solving in their own education (NRC, 2000a).

Three other recent reports have served to catalyze attempts to improve teacher education:

  • In 1996, the Council of Basic Education (CBE) cited several problems that it claimed compromised the education of teachers. These problems included inadequate and poorly supervised school-based practicum experience, the mediocre academic credentials of students who enroll in teacher education programs, and the questionable quality of faculty in the schools of education who prepare those students (Rigden, 1996).

  • In the same year, a report from the

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