Close interaction among institutions also would allow preservice programs to vest greater responsibility for student teaching experiences in partner schools and districts. Contractual agreements would specify the level of service (e.g., direct supervision and mentoring) and interaction to be provided to students and also who would take responsibility for evaluations of student performance. These agreements also would specify the funding that each partner would commit—to support these and other endeavors of the partnership.
The partnerships envisioned here also would provide school districts with opportunities to improve their professional development programs in science, mathematics, and technology. In concert with their employing districts, teachers could earn academic credit and continuing education units at the two- and four-year colleges within their particular partnership or perhaps even within a system of connected partnerships whose teacher education programs are linked through information technology.
In contractual arrangements similar to those between higher education and industry, the institutions of higher education in partnerships could develop and offer ongoing, integrated professional development programs that are geared specifically to the needs of teachers of science, mathematics, and technology. Many college faculty have the expertise, facilities, and equipment necessary to offer to practicing teachers the kinds of higher level courses that they need to gain much deeper knowledge and understanding of the subject matter they teach. Experienced teachers are likely to be ready for such courses; i.e., more motivated and better prepared through their classroom experiences to learn about more abstract issues, such as theories of learning and cognition. Some combination of faculty from the life and physical sciences, schools of education, and master teachers could stimulate levels of professional and intellectual growth that would be nearly impossible for achieve from other, similar programs offered only by districts or institutions of higher education alone.
Partnerships also could work with their state’s department of education to find ways to offer appropriate academic credit to teachers who upgrade their content knowledge and instructional skills in science, mathematics, or technology. The awarding of appropriate academic credit is particularly important for teachers who may not have specific teaching credentials in science, mathematics, and technology but who are expected to teach these subjects anyway (e.g., many teachers of the elementary and middle grades). For these teachers, undergraduate-level courses in science, mathematics, or engineering may be most appropriate.