opportunities for continual professional growth. At the same time, officials in schools and districts must recognize the emerging consensus that well-prepared teachers are critical for raising student achievement and should avoid the temptation to hire and staff their classrooms with unqualified or out-of-field teachers when personnel shortages loom.4 Further, in light of the research findings presented throughout this report, school administrators and policymakers should find ways to utilize teachers in those subject areas where they exhibit strength, interest, and training. Teachers should not be asked to teach subjects outside of their areas of competence and interest even though their certification may allow them to do so. If teachers are asked to move to teaching in those other subject areas, then additional professional development should be a prerequisite for doing so.
The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future has concluded that just as businesses and industries invest in the development of their employees, so must schools, schools systems, and policymakers invest in the ongoing education and professional development of teachers. Educators from preschool through university, parents, citizens, and students all must come to see themselves as essential stakeholders in the decisions and policies that affect the quality of education in America (Fuhrman and Massell, 1992).
Data from research and successful practice are demonstrating that it is critically important for certain groups of individuals and organizations to become actively engaged in the process of teacher education. At a minimum, these groups include faculty in mathematics, and the life, physical, and earth sciences in both two-year and four-year colleges, as well as teachers and administrators in K-12 schools. Collaborative partnerships appear to be particularly effective ways to realize improved teacher education, particularly when they involve scientists, mathematicians, and faculty from schools of education from two- and four-year colleges and universities and teachers from participating school systems (AAAS, 1989; MAA, 1991; NCTM, 1989; NRC, 1989, 1990, and 1996a; NSTA, 1998).
The data cited in this chapter point to some common themes about successful collaborative partnerships for the preparation and professional development of teachers and the enhancement
A number of recent reports suggest that teacher shortages may be due in part (at least in the short-term) to inequitable distribution of the teacher workforce. Qualified teachers can be located and hired if they are offered the appropriate incentives and suitable working conditions (e.g., Darling-Hammond, 1998, and personal communication with the committee).