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Minority Students in Special and Gifted Education
ever, that the growth in knowledge about effective teaching and learning has not begun to significantly impact the practices of educators, administrators, and support services personnel in many schools (National Research Council, 1999c). There is also evidence that part of the reason for the failure of local educators to embrace scientific advances in teaching and learning is the inadequacy of educator preparation programs and professional development activities (Clifford and Guthrie, 1988; Goodlad et al., 1990; National Commission for Teaching and America’s Future, 1996; Orlosky, 1988; Roth, 1999; Zeichner et al., 1996).
Many commentators have asserted that higher education-based educator preparation programs are particularly unresponsive to the scientific advances of the past several decades concerning teaching and learning (Clifford and Guthrie, 1988; Goodlad et al., 1990; Murnane et.al., 1991; National Commission for Teaching and America’s Future, 1996). In fact, many states have begun to rely on alternate routes to educator certification in an effort both to bypass traditional college and university teacher preparation programs and to address a shortage of people interested in education jobs.
These three significant challenges—unresponsive educator preparation programs, a failure to infuse scientific advances into local practice, and the impending shortage of individuals willing to work in education settings— present the potential for significant barriers to the effective implementation of the committee’s recommendations.
Recommendation TQ.4: The committee recommends that a panel be convened in an institutional environment that is protected from political influence to study the variety of programs that now exist to train teachers for general, special, and gifted education; the mechanisms for keeping training programs current and of high quality; the standards and requirements of those programs; the applicability of training to the demands of classroom practice; and the long-term impact of the programs in successfully promoting educational achievement for pre-K, elementary, and secondary students. Direct comparison with other professional fields (e.g., medicine, nursing, law, engineering, accounting) may provide insight in this endeavor applicable to education.
The marketplace will demand responses to the staffing shortage. The need for an assessment of the current state of the nation’s educator preparation mechanisms and recommendations for improvement could be a useful first step toward linking research and practice via effective professional training.