Teacher Certification

Teacher Certification
The whole issue of teacher certification is one of great importance and
when discussed must be done in a delicate and thoughtful manner. The reason for
this increasing importance is because the education of our nation’s teachers is
important to the creation of an ideal education system, which is one of the
goals of our national government and State governments. Over the years the
whole educational reform movement has become an increasingly “hot” topic.

Reforms in the administration of school systems and in curriculum theory and
practice have been asked for and a4re currently being put into effect. Recently,
reform of the education of teachers is being added to the lo9ng list of reforms
needed. Many reform activists feel that direct changes need to be made on the
methods of training and certifying the teachers of our country. Before looking
at the reform movement, however, one must first look at the so called problem of
inconsistency in teacher certification.

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In our country today there is a general consistency among the
requirements for state certification of teachers. Most states require their
teacher institutions to establish a teacher education program that includes
coursework and fieldwork. The coursework includes those courses that prepare a
student to become a professional teacher and those classes that include major
and minor fields of specialization. Fieldwork, which is probably the most
important of the two forms of requirements, involves the individual interested
in being a teacher going out and observing, practicing, and preparing to enter
the educational world as an instructor. There is no argument that all schools
in every state has these basic requirements of teacher certification. However,
the inconsistency lies within how the numerous institutions go about in teaching
these requirements. Each post-secondary school is given the jurisdiction to
choose how they are going to go about meeting these basic teacher certification
requirements. For example, many states require a different amount of field
hours. An inconsistency can also be seen in the various models of teacher
education that are used throughout the nation. Two education researchers,
Howey and Zimpher conducted a study on this variety of models in 1989. They
came up with three different attempts of teacher training. The first, known as
the teacher’s college model, involves certification students entering a separate
school within a university that is a “teacher’s college”. The second approach
is called the liberal arts model by the researchers, and is a method that
requires and individual to become specialized in a certain liberal arts subject
in order to create “capable and cultured human beings”. The third and final
model discussed by Howley and Zimpher is entitled the competency-based model.

This method trains individuals in the arts o motivation and understanding. As
one can see by this case study, there have been a variety of approaches to
teacher certification. An inconsistency can similarly be detected by looking at
the various new and innovative ideas in teacher education. Among these include
the alternative route, a topic discussed earlier, and the five-year degree
program, and issue to be discussed shortly in this section. Altogether, one
could state that there is some inconsistency in teacher certification, and this
inconsistency brings about a small problem in the educational spectrum of our
world. In my opinion, there is no national and universal set of requirements
for teacher certification. The variety of different methods and forms of
teacher education programs is causing an inconsistency in how teachers are being
trained nationwide. When this is realized, the whole issue of reforming teacher
certification becomes very relevant to our society.

As stated earlier, reforms in the training of future teachers are
beginning to really be requested by the general public. Various groups have met
to discuss the various issues surrounding the reform movement. Among the most
notable are the Holmes Group, the Association of American Colleges of Teacher
Education (AACTE), the Education Commission of the States (ECS), and Goodlad’s
group. These various groups and many others have come up with a variety of
reforms and new standards that most likely should and will be integrated into
the current teacher certification requirements. One certain similarity that all
of these recommendations have with each other is that they all call for higher
regulations and an increase in the education of future teachers. Many of the
group0s called for an increase in providing individuals knowledge on the
profession of teachi8ng, and some groups also called for a more intense training
in the various fields under a liberal arts education. Increases in the amount
of fieldwork required seems to also be a major issue discussed by the reform
groups. The issue of selection under standardized testing was also discussed,
with respect to increasing the required SAT/ACT or GRE scores. Finally, the
research groups came up with various new ideas involving the creation of
professional teaching schools or tiered systems that would require a teacher to
go through more training even after they received their bachelor’s degree. All
in all, these reform groups have come up with some very unique and interesting
ideas to change teacher certification for the better. It is the best interest
of our nation to make changes in our current teacher education program, for, in
this case, change would be for the better. To conclude, I would like to take a
brief but in depth look at an innovative idea established by the Maine State
Department of Education in conjunction with the University of Southern Maine.

This program, entitled the Extended Teacher Education Program, involves future
teachers continuing on for a fifth year after completing their undergraduate
studies. This fifth year involves the individual taking part in internships.

These internships give the future teachers a chance at more fieldwork in order
to gain more experiences before they become full fledged teachers. Nonetheless,
the results of the initial year of the program seem to indicate that the idea
around this new program is a successful one. Those individuals who took part in
the program obtained various skills and understandings that all ideal teachers
should have. The excellent outcomes of this program leads one to believe that
it might be a good idea to implement this structure nationwide. The idea of
creating professional schools for teachers has become a popular one in recent
times. After all if doctors and lawyers have to go to a professional school,
then shouldn’t teachers as well?
In conclusion, the issue of teacher training and certification brings up
many questions, especially in reference to reforming. The inconsistent and
somewhat outdated education of teachers today needs change, in order to create
an ideal educational system. Numerous reforms have been discussed and
recommended by various research organizations and now is the time to take action
and implement some of these reforms before our education systems continue to
fall downwards into the depths of degradation. Change I needed and change must
come now.