not require all that much background—that anyone can be a professional writer, for example, or teacher, with the relative outcomes the same regardless of education, experience, or professional development. But as this report will show, highly knowledgeable, highly skilled teachers do make a difference in terms of student learning. And, therefore, if for no other reason, careful attention must be paid to how they are educated and professionally supported and nurtured throughout their careers.
Although education has been a central focus of concern for the U.S. public for many years, the first contemporary national expression of concern was issued in 1983, in a U.S. Department of Education-funded report entitled A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education). That report warned of a “rising tide of mediocrity” that threatened the United States both economically and militarily. At the time, the nation was especially concerned with the rise of Japanese economic power and Soviet military might. Sixteen years later, the United States stands as the world’s sole economic and military superpower, but our nation still remains concerned about the academic performance of U.S. children on national (e.g., National Assessment of Educational Progress—NAEP) and international (e.g., the Third International Mathematics Science Study—TIMSS)
The key difference between the current and previous calls for reform in teacher preparation is a focus on strategies that coordinate the preparation of high quality teachers with improvements in K-12 student achievement.
assessments compared with the academic performance of students in many other countries. What might these poor performances bode for our future international and economic stature? Are schools accomplishing what we want for our children? For all of our children?
Following publication and national discussion of A Nation at Risk, a spate of other reports appeared. Those reports offered criticisms of and proposed solutions for the entire landscape of K-12 education (e.g., reviewed by Darling-Hammond, 1997). In science and mathematics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) initiated its comprehensive