consideration that has potential for a variety of outcomes. Other factors influencing the acceptance of multiple certification requirements are related to philosophical, political, and financial concerns.
The centers were established to take a leading role in the revision of the certification process. They are intended to improve teacher preparation through the integration of technology and the development of innovative teaching practices and staff development programs throughout the state's colleges of education. This initiative was based on the premise that the success of schools and students is directly linked to the success of the state's teacher preparation programs. All centers are to focus on five components: collaboration, restructuring educator preparation, staff development, technology, and addressing the needs of a multicultural student population.
Collaboration between the institutions of higher education and K-12 institutions is to be a major component of the centers' activities. Classroom teachers are to serve as mentors and role models for their interns; teachers, principals, and ESC personnel may help develop courses, teach, or co-teach university courses at their home base or at the university. University professors are to be in the schools as resources and consultants, and to learn from the mentor teachers. The governance structure must reflect the cultural diversity of the state, and no category of representation may be larger than the K-12 teacher representation.
The intended restructuring of educator preparation programs, in conjunction with the collaboration emphasis, is focused primarily on establishing programs and instruction that are field based. New programs are also to include regular collaborative decision making by all partners; an emphasis on teachers as lifelong learners; routine use of technologies (multimedia, computer based, long-distance telecommunications technologies); research and development of new technology-based instructional techniques; and innovative teaching practices in multicultural classrooms. These developments are intended to influence several major components in the structure of teacher preparation programs, including the composition, location, and structure of methods courses, the constitution of the teacher preparation faculty, the role of technology, and the cultural diversity represented.
The following presents a comparison of traditional preparation approaches to program components found in the various centers.
To help ensure complete success in restructuring education, these centers are also to include major staff development components that will provide in-service training to practicing teachers. A major emphasis of this staff development effort is on helping teachers to become lifelong learners. Thus, by keeping current throughout their teaching careers, these teachers will be able to teach their students the skills that they will need to be successful in the twenty-first century. In this way, student achievement will be linked to teacher performance, and both will be enhanced through campus improvement plans.
Another major initiative is the incorporation of technology into the centers to expand the delivery of instruction in the K-12 classroom and in teacher preparation classes. Coupled with field-based instruction, this endeavor will help to prepare students majoring in education to teach in the classrooms of tomorrow. The centers are also to provide for the development of new technology-based instructional techniques and innovative teaching practices. Through direct contact with these activities, in-service and pre-service teachers will learn the appropriate skills and will be encouraged to integrate technology into their teaching practices.
Multicultural education provides information about various groups as well as the skills needed to work with them. To provide cultural diversity and adequately prepare in-service and pre-service teachers, the centers are required to implement public school programs and services that reflect diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and grade-level environments. The inclusion of minority teacher candidates in the centers' recruiting and training efforts will also be a high priority, particularly in subject areas where teacher demand exceeds supply.
Each center is implemented and evaluated in an ongoing developmental program involving K-12, higher education, and state constituents. This collaboration reflects the program's commitment to systemic change and recognizes that all shareholders must be involved if adequate systemic change is to occur. To provide programs and services throughout the state and prepare teachers to meet the full range of learner diversity and needs, the State Board of Education funding requirements for the centers indicate that funding may be made to centers by geographical areas. This is particularly important in a state as culturally and geographically diverse as Texas.