standards that they establish for students who wish to pursue more traditional careers in a discipline, many disciplinary professional organizations do not claim “ownership” of teacher preparation programs for that discipline. Indeed, many college-level faculty in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, or technology are unaware of expectations for content or even the existence of state or national standards for teacher preparation in their own disciplines. This lack of common expectations can result in teachers with similar degrees having experienced substantially different levels of preparation during their preservice years.
• The continuum of professional development: Other professions mark the awarding of the baccalaureate degree as the beginning of a career path. Focused and directed professional growth is expected and supported in the ensuing years. For example, no doctor is considered to have received sufficient education upon the awarding of the medical degree to practice a specialty. Intensive residencies and fellowships that involve extensive additional education, mentoring, and direct work with acknowledged experts in the field are routinely expected. Following licensing in a specialty, regular upgrading of skills and knowledge within the specialty and related fields is required. In contrast, college graduates who enter teaching often are viewed as being ready to assume full duties in the classroom and too often are assigned the most challenging teaching responsibilities in their schools. Many beginning teachers in the United States cite the lack of guidance, time for preparation and reflection, and opportunities to grow in the profession as primary frustrations of teaching (Hoff, 2000; NSTA, 2000).
As with other professions, teachers must master a rapidly changing body of knowledge, serve a constantly changing clientele, and deal with the pressure of new societal expectations. For professions deemed critical to the well being of society (e.g., biomedical research and clinical practice), private and governmental agencies and organizations often expand funding to accommodate such changes and retrain practitioners. In contrast, K-12 education—although critical to the well-being of individuals, communities, and society at large—does not receive similar support, especially at the state and local levels where it is controlled and operated.
• Mentoring of new employees: Neophytes in many other professions (and teachers in other nations) are routinely placed under the tutelage and guidance of more experienced teachers—mentors—for extended periods of time. Novices may be assigned fewer specific work responsibilities during the early parts of their careers so they can