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Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for the New Millenium
expect their practitioners to pursue advanced programs of study that increase and broaden their specific competencies for the profession, in education, most state regulations require only that teachers obtain post-baccalaureate credits or a master’s degree within a certain period of time after being hired and then earn additional credits every few years thereafter. Content areas typically are not specified. These kinds of amorphous requirements for teachers may actually reduce the number of experienced teachers in classrooms, since many teachers who continue with their education pursue degrees in educational administration, allowing them to take better paying jobs outside of the classroom. In sum, current expectations for continuing education may not contribute to the retention of experienced teachers. In addition, recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers, especially those who are qualified to teach science and mathematics, has become a problem in some school districts across the country, especially where numerous professional opportunities exist not only outside of teaching but outside of education.
Unlike in teaching, in many other professions, coherent, well-recognized procedures and policies have been developed to attract, educate, and place professionals. Many of these other professions not only also expect their practitioners to upgrade their knowledge and skills throughout their careers but also have in place an enabling continuing education system. Importantly, most other professions do not view those who have recently entered the profession as being fully qualified or expert. Rather, there are full expectations that neophytes will continue to learn and grow through participation in regular professional development programs and as a result of mentoring by more senior colleagues. This trend is now infiltrating teaching; beginning teachers are sometimes now referred to as “competent novices” (for example, Schempp et al., 1998).
In addition, performance standards exist for many professions, often developed and maintained by members of those professions through accrediting boards and professional societies. Professionals who meet or exceed the standards are rewarded in tangible and appropriate ways. Although such guidelines exist for the teaching profession (for example, as developed in 1994 for practicing teachers by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and in 2000 by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education), to date only a few of these guidelines have been incorporated systematically into the fabric and culture of the teaching profession.