The Need for Reform in Teacher Preparation Programs
Robert Watson,Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation (NSF)
Current efforts at NSF place emphasis on getting scientists, science departments, and science, mathematics, and engineering schools to take on a more appropriate role in the preparation of future teachers and to form better partnerships with their colleagues in the colleges of education. I am convinced that if science departments in colleges and universities were more hospitable to students who would become teachers, then not only would those students be better prepared to go into teaching but a much stronger cadre of students would be attracted to teaching.
Keynote Address: Implications of the Standards for Teacher Preparation and Certification
Pascal Forgione,Delaware Superintendent of Public Instruction
This is a unique, unprecedented opportunity. The National Science Education Standards provide mutual direction on a large scale: there are clear expectations and real-world standards set within a common vision of excellence and equity for all. All students means all, and that is a distinctive feature of this reform. We are talking about this vision for all, moving the whole distribution of students to a higher and more appropriate level of performance. That vision has to come from the top.
The development of high-quality and rigorous content standards is the foundation for student achievement, but a foundation is not sufficient to ensure high-quality opportunities for all students to develop an understanding of science. Although we may have the vision, unless that vision is founded in the expectation of what students should know and do, unless that vision is clearly articulated, unless that vision is widely held, and unless that vision becomes a reality, all children will not have the opportunities needed to understand the beauty and complexity of science.
So, what does it really mean to teach to the Standards? We need to identify what teachers must know and be able to do in order to deliver high-quality learning opportunities for students. Content and pedagogical content knowledge must become part of the pre-service experience. Higher education must build upon its tremendous
innovation, knowledge, and creativity to create undergraduate programs that are consistent with the Standards. The programs must prepare teachers at all grade levels to teach to the Standards for all children. Graduate and continuing education programs for our current teaching force must be based on the content and methods in the Standards for teaching all children at all grades.
Certification policies must be aligned with the Standards and requirements for certification must be aligned with the content standards for students and reflect the understandings that teachers must have in science and in the teaching of science. Continuing professional development certainly is necessary to renew your license to teach. But we need to expect more from the process, and we need to develop an articulated scope that has an impact on student learning. We need a renewal process that reflects on teaching, not just a count of credits.
The National Science Education Standards are designed to guide our nation toward a scientifically literate society. The first morning of the symposium was devoted to understanding the Standards, the criteria for teaching and learning science presented in the Standards, and the implications of the Standards for change in state policies and for institutions of higher education that prepare teachers.
Response to Dr. Forgione
Angelo Collins, Professor of Education, Vanderbilt University; Director of Development, National Science Education Standards Project
Curriculum, assessment, and teaching are the three legs of reform in science education. The focus today is on the most important: teaching. How we select and promote people into the teaching profession is an extremely important task. It is time for teachers to be recognized as professionals. Professionals have both theoretical and practical knowledge of their profession. They have control of that profession and are service oriented. Professionals have professional working conditions. Being recognized as a professional grants status and has rewards.
The National Science Education Standards call for prospective teachers to learn science in the way they are going to teach it: as inquiry and for full understanding. They are to learn to teach science in the places where science teaching happens. They are to be members of life-long communities of learners, and they are to experience coherent and integrated professional development programs. The challenge is to move from national standards that represent a vision to state programs at our colleges and universities in order to work together for the future of education.
The Standards: a Guide for Systemic Reform
Rodger Bybee, Executive Director, Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education; Chair, Working Group on Science Content Standards
The National Science Education Standards present a thorough, complete, and adequate definition of scientific literacy and give a thorough, complete, and appropriate presentation of science content. But reform is not about standards.