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State Struggles to Improve Teacher Training Programs as Higher Education Pushes Back

State Struggles to Improve Teacher Training Programs as Higher Education Pushes Back

Teacher preparation programs are often the subject of scrutiny because many feel as if the average program is not adequate enough to produce high quality teachers.

The New Jersey legislature is determined to tackle the quality of teacher prep programs within its colleges and universities by proposing to extend the student-teaching requirement to a full year as opposed to just one semester.

"The proposal is part of a broad package that the Christie administration says will help improve the preparation of new teachers and bolster support of novice teachers once they are on the job," according to NJSpotlight.com, but it's being met with opposition by many leaders from the state's colleges and universities that are affected.

According to the article, eight presidents from the state's public schools and 13 from private ones have written the state Board of Education to argue against the new requirement on the grounds that it would be too expensive to the students it will serve, going so far as to argue the new requirements might deter students from considering teaching careers within the state.

As a result, many higher ed leaders are arguing that the state reduce the additional 175 hours of clinical practice it has intended to add to teacher prep programs by the 2018-2019 school year.

Claudine Keenan, the dean of education at Stockton University and president-elect of the state’s association of teaching colleges, said that the additional hours could cost up to $43 million. That number, she said according to the article, is derived from the wages teacher hopefuls would lose with additional training, $10 million in additional tuition expenses and $9 million from local schools hosting student teachers.

Peter Shulman, the state’s assistant education commissioner, told NJ Spotlight that the administration is aware of the early challenges but that the move is in the best interest of K-12 students as many experienced teachers and education experts have urged officials to consider adding more experience to programs.

The administration hopes that a compromise can be reached that is in the best interest of everyone involved.

Other colleges and universities across the country that are facing similar issues have turned to a revolutionary program that aims to provide teachers-in-training with classroom experience as early as possible before mandatory student-teaching hours even come into play. TeachLivE allows teachers-in-training to gain classroom experience with virtual classrooms and students.

TeachLivE provides classroom simulations using virtual students; the students"each have a different personality and therefore represent the challenge of engaging different learners. The virtual students also represent the challenges that come with teaching a classroom- such as virtual student Cindy, who is seen in the demonstration texting on her phone," Education World reported earlier this month

Either way, New Jersey's problem represents the problem of many-teacher preparation programs just aren't cutting it, and there's no one solution that has been determined as a reliable fix.

Read more here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

09/28/2015

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