tests to license beginning teachers and the creation of incentives and sanctions to change teacher education. These two policy targets are among those addressed by a new federal law (P.L. 105–244).
These recent initiatives and the new administration provide an opportunity for the nation to clarify its thinking about the preparation of teacher candidates to meet current and upcoming demands for additional teachers. They raise questions about the appropriateness and soundness of current measures of teacher competence and about the roles of federal and state governments and higher education in assuring the quality of teacher preparation and teacher licensure.
In 1996, President Clinton, the nation’s governors, and American business professionals met at the National Education Summit to renew their commitment to achieving high academic standards for American students and schools (Achieve, 1997). States responded by developing and strengthening their content and performance standards for student learning and by adopting standards-based tests to help drive and assess reform. Threaded throughout these reforms was the important promise to educate all students at high levels.
Innovators and educators across the nation are now implementing and refining these reforms (U.S. Department of Education, 1999b; National Research Council, 1999c; Council of Chief State School Officers, 1998; Baker and Linn, 1997; Massell et al., 1997). They have begun to link their standards for student learning to more challenging standards for teachers and to the objectives of teacher education (Cohen and Spillane, 1993; Smith and O’Day, 1991; National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, 2000b). Darling-Hammond et al. (1999:2) explain what these reforms require of teachers:
This new mission for education requires substantially more knowledge and radically different skills for teachers…. In order to create bridges between common, challenging curriculum goals and individual learners’ experiences and needs, teachers must understand cognition and the many different pathways to learning. They must understand child development and pedagogy as well as the structures of subject areas and a variety of alternatives for assessing learning… If all children are to be effectively taught, teachers must be prepared to address the substantial diversity in the experiences children bring with them to school— the wide range of languages, cultures, exceptionalities, learning styles, talents, and intelligences that in turn [require] an equally rich and varied repertoire of teaching strategies. In addition, teaching for universal learning demands a highly developed ability to discover what children know and can do, as well as how they think and how they learn, and to match learning and performance opportunities to the needs of individual children.