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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study was supported by Contract/Grant No. DUE 9614007 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Educating teachers of science, mathematics, and technology : new practices for the new millennium / Committee on Science and Mathematics
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Science teachers—Training of—United States. 2. Mathematics teachers—Training of—United States. 3. Engineering teachers—Training of—United States. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation. II. Title.
Q183.3.A1 E39 2000
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Engineering
Institute of Medicine
National Research Council
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS TEACHER PREPARATION
HERBERT K. BRUNKHORST,
California State University, San Bernardino,
W. J. (JIM) LEWIS,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln,
Cambridge, MA, Public Schools
RODNEY L. CUSTER,
Illinois State University
PENNY J. GILMER,
Florida State University
MARTIN L. JOHNSON,
University of Maryland
HARVEY B. KEYNES,
University of Minnesota
R. HEATHER MACDONALD,
College of William and Mary
Bronxville, NY, Public Schools
M. GAIL SHROYER,
Kansas State University
San Diego State University
DAN B. WALKER,
San Jose State University
Community School District 2, New York City
SUSAN S. WOOD,
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF
JAY B. LABOV, Study Director (since October 1998)
JANE O. SWAFFORD, Senior Program Officer (January – October 1999)
NANCY L. DEVINO, Senior Program Officer (through October 1998)
TERRY K. HOLMER, Senior Project Assistant
PAUL J. KUERBIS, Special Consultant,
KATHLEEN (KIT) S. JOHNSTON, Consulting Editor
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report:
DAVID C. BERLINER, Arizona State University
FRANK CARDULLA, Lake Forest High School, Lake Forest, IL
JERE CONFREY, University of Texas at Austin
SARAH C. ELGIN, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
HENRY HEIKKINEN, University of Northern Colorado
TOBY M. HORN, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
WILLIAM G. HOWARD, JR.*, Independent Consultant, Scottsdale, AZ
RONALD L. LATANISION*, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
CHRISTINE WEST PATERACKI, Cario Middle School, Mt. Pleasant, SC
JUDITH ROITMAN, University of Kansas
THOMAS ROMBERG, University of Wisconsin, Madison
JAMES STITH, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD
While the individuals listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the National Research Council.
The United States is finally getting serious about the quality of our children’s education, and it is rare to pick up a newspaper today without finding some discussion of education issues. In the current maelstrom of the education debate, the need to improve the quality of our teachers’ preparation and professional development deserves a central place. Teachers stand at the center of any education system, since everything rests on their skills and energy. Questions regarding teaching quality, teaching effectiveness, and teacher recruitment and retention have become particularly important in science and mathematics, as we enter a century that will be ever more dependent on science and technology.
Many interacting and often-conflicting variables have influenced attempts to improve teaching in science and mathematics. These include a multitude of reports and recommendations from commissions and professional organizations; the increasing use of high-stakes standardized testing to measure the academic performance of students, teachers, and schools; and the reality of the many challenges that teachers and students actually face in today’s classrooms.
The entire nation must recognize that teaching is a very difficult and demanding profession. Teachers must of course have a deep understanding of their subject areas, but this is not enough. They must also be skilled at motivating their students to want to learn in a society in which young people are exposed to so many outside distractions. Most importantly, improvements in teacher education need to be aligned with recommendations about what students should know and be able to do at various grade levels, which means that teachers need to become expert at what is called content-oriented pedagogy.
The National Academies recently called for a decade of research to be devoted to improving education (National Research Council, 1999c). A primary focus of that effort will be devoted to resolving issues about the most effective ways to improve teaching. It is in this context that the Academies also established the Committee on Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation. If the nation is to make the continuous improvements needed in teaching, we need to make a science out of teacher education—using evidence and analysis to build an effective system of teacher preparation and professional development. What do we know about what works based on experience and research?
After two years of studying and synthesizing the immense body of research data—as well as recommendations from professional organizations and the diversity of current practices—the committee has issued this report. Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for the New Millennium will help readers understand areas of emerging consensus about what constitutes effective structure and practice for teacher education in these subject areas. The extensive list of cited references, many from peer-reviewed journals, reflect the committee’s efforts to produce a report that will advance the scholarship of teacher education.
The report does more than review current data and issues. Importantly, it also offers a series of recommendations, based on extensive evidence from research, about how various stakeholders might contribute individually and collectively—even systemically—to the improvement of teaching in these subject areas. A number of critical points are emphasized:
Teacher education must no longer be viewed as a set of disconnected phases for which different communities assume the primary responsibility. As this study progressed, committee members realized that the committee’s name (Committee on Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation) was too limiting, because “preparation” is only one phase of “teacher education.” Teacher education should instead be a seamless continuum that begins well before prospective teachers enter college and that supports them throughout their professional careers. Accordingly, this report calls for school districts, institutions of higher education (both two- and four-year colleges and universities), business, industry, research facilities, and individual scientists and other members of the community to work closely together in integrated, collaborative partnerships to support teachers and teacher education.
Responsibility for teacher education in science, mathematics, and technology can no longer be delegated only to schools of education and school districts. Scientists, mathematicians, and engineers must become more informed about and involved with this effort. Those who commit part of their professional lives to improving teacher education must be recognized and rewarded for their efforts. Moreover, since prospective teachers of science, mathematics, and technology are sitting in most college classrooms, all faculty who teach undergraduates in these subject areas need to think about how their courses can better meet the needs of these critical individuals. The committee has emphasized that changing courses in ways that address the needs of prospective and practicing teachers would also enhance the educational experience for most undergraduates.
If teaching is to improve, then teachers must be accorded the same kind of respect that members of other professions receive. As in other professions, beginning teachers cannot be expected to have mastered all that they will need to know and be able to do when they first begin teaching. Rather, the committee calls for a new emphasis on ongoing professional development that enables teachers to grow in their profession and to assume new responsibilities for their colleagues, their employers, and for future generations of teachers.
The ultimate measure of the success of any teacher education program is how well the students of these teachers learn and achieve. Thus, the partnerships that the committee envisions in this report would be structured in ways that facilitate student learning and the assessment of that learning.
Improving the quality of science and mathematics teaching, the professionalism of teaching, and the incentives and rewards in teaching are issues that are now deemed to be critical to the national interest. For this reason, in 1999 U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley established the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching in the 21st Century, chaired by former Senator John Glenn of Ohio. In the same spirit, Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for the New Millennium is being made freely available on the Worldwide Web, so as to offer its valuable information and insights to as broad an audience as possible.
Bruce Alberts, President
National Academy of Sciences
In 1998, the National Research Council (NRC) established the Committee on Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation (CSMTP) and charged it with identifying critical issues in existing practices and policies for K-12 teacher preparation in science and mathematics. In its Statement of Task, the NRC’s Governing Board also asked the committee to identify recommendations from professional organizations regarding teacher preparation and the quality of the K-12 teaching of science and mathematics and to examine relevant research. The committee’s report was to synthesize critical issues, recommendations, and relevant research.
In carrying out its responsibilities, the committee explored practices and policies in K-12 teacher education in general—for both prospective and currently practicing teachers—then focused on issues involving the teaching of science, mathematics, and technology. Members examined the relevant literature and current calls for reform of K-16 science and mathematics education as well as more general principles of effective teacher education that can be derived from analysis of actual classroom practice. Research on what is currently known about effective teacher preparation and professional development and the committee’s reflections on the compelling evidence for teacher education to become a career-long continuum lie at the foundation of the committee’s discussion, conclusions, and subsequent vision and recommendations.
In reflecting on the committee’s findings, members developed six principles to frame their conclusions about the need for changes in the predominant ways K-12 teachers of science, mathematics, and technology are currently prepared and professionally supported. The principles call for teacher education and teaching in science, mathematics,
and technology improvement to be viewed as a top national priority; for the education of teachers to become a career-long process—a continuum—that stimulates teachers’ intellectual growth as well as upgrades their knowledge and skills; for teaching as a profession to be upgraded in status and stature; for two-and four-year colleges and universities to assume greater responsibility and be held more accountable for improving teacher education; for institutions of higher education and K-12 schools to work together—along with the larger community—to improve teacher education; and for more scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to provide teachers with the appropriate content knowledge and pedagogy of their disciplines.
The report then describes how teacher preparation might be redesigned in light of research and new knowledge about how teachers learn the content, the art, and craft of their profession. The report also examines and provides examples of exemplary and promising current practices for improving teacher education, including establishment of close local or regional partnerships between school districts and teacher educators, scientists, and mathematicians in institutions of higher education. As they exist on a small scale today, these partnerships are devoted to improving student learning through improving the education and professional support of teachers.
After exploring what is known about the effectiveness of such collaborative approaches, the committee calls in its vision and specific recommendations for a fundamental rethinking and restructuring of the ways that the K-12 and higher education communities work toward improving teacher education, from initial preparation through life-long professional development.
To assist action on these principles, the committee calls in its recommendations for K-12 schools and districts and the higher education community—with support and assistance from the broader community—to engage in collaborative partnerships. In these partnerships, school districts and their higher education partners together would promote high-quality teacher education, including sharing responsibility for teacher preparation and on-going professional development for the K-12 partner schools’ teachers.1
Such partnerships will require a fundamental rethinking of the currently disparate phases of teacher education and, therefore, a fundamental restructuring of current organizational and financial relationships between the K-12 and higher education communities in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SME&T). Committee members readily acknowledge that this will not be a straightforward, easily accomplished, or inexpensive process. In these new partnerships, responsibility for preparatory student teaching experiences would be vested primarily in school district partners. In turn, responsibility for ongoing professional development would fall primarily within the purview of the higher education partners. These changes will require a tremendous shift in the structure, allocation of support resources, and relationships between the K-12 and higher education communities. And the result will be nothing less than the fundamental revamping of teaching as a profession.
The report before you addresses a broad audience because it is evident from the research that anyone who is responsible for any aspect of teacher preparation in science, mathematics, and technology education can no longer work in isolation if they are to help improve teacher education. All professional stakeholders in teacher education are addressed. They include teachers of science, mathematics, and technology, those in policy making institutions, accrediting agencies, and professional societies, as well as scientists, mathematicians, educators, and administrators inside and outside of academe.
The committee is confident that the report will prove useful to the many dedicated people who are working to improve the quality of the education of teachers of K-12 science, mathematics, and technology. The report also should help increase the numbers of teachers who are teaching in ways that allow their students to understand and appreciate science, mathematics, and technology and the relevance of these disciplines to virtually every aspect of our lives in the new millennium.
Herbert K. Brunkhorst
W.J. (Jim) Lewis
Committee on Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation
Just prior to the publication of this report, we learned of the untimely and tragic death of Dr. Susan Loucks-Horsley. From 1998 until 1999, Susan was Director of K-12 Professional Development and Outreach in the National Research Council’s Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education. Dr. Loucks-Horsley’s work in professional development for teachers and the continual improvement of education for children was associated with many national organizations throughout her remarkable thirty-year career. One of Susan’s proudest personal achievements, for which she was senior author, was the publication in 1998 of Designing Professional Development for Teachers of Science and Mathematics. Earlier, she led the development team of Facilitating Systemic Change in Science and Mathematics Education: A Toolkit for Professional Developers, the product of ten regional education laboratories. She also was on the development team of the Concerns-Based Adoption Model, which described how individuals experience change. At the time of her death, Susan was Associate Executive Director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study in Colorado Springs.
With this report and other publications that will surely follow on the importance of providing quality professional development for teachers, Susan’s legacy of groundbreaking research, published works, and professional development and leadership initiatives for science education will continue. As some of her work is cited in this report, and she was a colleague, friend, and mentor to many on our committee and staff, we dedicate this report to Susan Loucks-Horsley. She will be greatly missed.
The members and staff of the Committee on Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation are grateful to many people for their professional input and perspective to this study. We acknowledge the following people for providing presentations, additional data, and their invaluable insight and expertise to the committee during committee meetings:
Ismat Abdal-Haqq, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
Angelo Collins, Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium
Linda Darling-Hammond, National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, and Stanford University
Emily Feistritzer, National Center for Education Information
Glenn F. Nyre, Westat
Abigail Smith, Teach for America
Jan Somerville, Education Trust
William Thompson, Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium
Terry Woodin, Program Officer, Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation
Judith Wurtzel, Learning First Alliance
We also acknowledge and thank several colleagues from the National Research Council for their guidance and support:
Rodger Bybee, now Director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, served as Executive Director of the National Research Council’s Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education from the time that this project was conceived through June 1999. Rodger’s contributions to this study are numerous, especially in helping the committee to set its priorities and in guiding the committee’s staff for much of the study.
Joan Ferrini-Mundy, now Associate Dean for the Division of Science and Mathematics Education at Michigan State University, served as Associate
Executive Director of the National Research Council’s Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education from the time that this project was conceived through June 1999. Joan’s knowledge and insights about mathematics education, her understanding of the critical role of quality teacher education in promoting learning and academic achievement for all students, and her advice for completing this study are especially appreciated.
Eugenia Grohman, Kirsten Sampson Snyder, and Yvonne Wise were responsible for helping to shepherd the committee’s report through the National Research Council’s report review process. They assisted with recruiting reviewers, maintaining communication between the committee and the review monitor and coordinator during the response to review process, and working with National Academy Press and the National Academies’ Office of News and Public Information.
Tina Winters worked with the committee’s staff during a portion of 1998 in searching the literature on teacher education issues.
To all of these people, we express our gratitude and thanks.