For the past few months, the leadership team has been reading a series of reports that discussed the future of teacher education preparation. Each report focused on the critical factors of clinical experiences, content knowledge expertise, and performance assessment as measured by robust accountability systems. The purpose of the reports was to capture what is the current status of teacher education programs and some of the changes that should take place in order to strengthen these programs.
Pertaining to clinical practices, the reports called for field experiences that take place early and often. Some of the reports spoke of a residential model in which student teaching is extended for a year and embedded in this model are classroom teachers who are hired in a dual role by the universities to place and supervise the student teachers. Another innovation in clinical practice is co-teaching opportunities with the field-experience student and cooperating teachers. I have asked the Department of Teaching to investigate the co-teaching model by visiting Mankato State University and the year-long student teaching model by visiting Arizona State University. Another model that is being implemented at Miami University of Ohio is an inverse field experience in which a local high school course is taught on campus by teacher educators with the support of field experience students. Chris Curran and Becky Hawbaker will visit this program in order to observe the model.
Content knowledge enhancements are focused upon in terms of the entry level tests, exit content exams, and increased content courses for elementary teachers in mathematics and science. In Iowa, this change has taken place with the onset of the Praxis II to be taken by secondary level students and additional science content courses that are required for elementary level students. Another innovation that is being touted is blended licenses with special education and general education. We now have this type of model as endorsements, but the early childhood program and the special education program are working on an inclusive license that will not extend time-to-degree.
For over fifteen years, the teacher education program at the University of Northern Iowa has pioneered performance assessment with the Teacher Work Sample (TWS). This assessment instrument has served its purpose well by allowing our pre-service teachers to showcase their instructional talents. The new version of the TWS is the edTPA. This performance assessment system is being nationally normed. We participated in the norming process and will be moving forward with transitioning from the TWS to the edTPA now that we have approval from both the elementary and secondary senates.
The reforms slated in the reports above provide guidance for the future of teacher education. As you read through the reports and share them with your students, you will realize that most of the reform initiatives we have already embraced and others we are investigating. At UNI, we find ourselves once again at the pinnacle of progress.