TEACHER EDUCATION ISSUES

Research is demonstrating that good teaching does matter. An increasing amount of research suggests that student achievement correlates with teaching quality and the level of knowledge of teachers in science and mathematics. However, numerous studies and the results from a variety of the Praxis and other teacher licensing and certification examinations demonstrate that many teachers, especially those who will teach in grades K-8 do not have sufficient content knowledge or adequate skills for teaching these disciplines.

In addition to benchmarks and standards for science, mathematics, and technology from national organizations (e.g., AAAS, 1993; NRC, 1996a; NCTM, 1989, 2000; ITEA, 2000; American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges, 1995), most states have developed their own curriculum frameworks and expectations for learning outcomes in these subjects.2 However, it is clear that many of the nation’s teachers are not adequately prepared to teach these subjects using standards-based approaches and in ways that bolster student learning and achievement.

The preparation of beginning teachers by many colleges and universities (preservice education) does not meet the needs of the modern classroom (e.g., American Council on Education, 1999; American Federation of Teachers, 2000). Many states are bolstering their requirements for degrees and certification of new teachers, and these changes should be forcing educators in both schools of education and the disciplines to ask hard questions about their programs and teacher education in general. For example, when states mandate that all teachers graduate with a major in a discipline rather than in education, how should students who wish to become teachers be properly advised about the most appropriate major to pursue, especially if those students wish to teach in the primary grades? Should students who decide to teach at the high-school level pursue majors in a single discipline or a composite major? (The question arises in part because different states have developed different requirements about single vs. composite majors for certification at the secondary level.) How does the choice of a major affect the future teacher’s professional options following graduation or five years hence? What

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Content standards for science and mathematics for every state that has developed them are available through “Achieve” (National Governors Conference) at <http://www.achieve.com>.



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