Professional Learning

Teacher Preparation: What University Leaders Can Do

How leaders of universities can ensure quality teacher preparation.

September 1, 2001

Here are some strategies and resources university leaders can use to improve the quality of training that teacher candidates receive:

Give greater prestige to schools of education.

In a task force report titled, "To Touch the Future: Transforming the Way Teachers Are Taught," the American Council on Education outlines an "action agenda" of ten steps for presidents of colleges and universities to support high-quality teacher preparation programs.

Commit resources to education schools.

Critics say that for too long education schools have been treated as "cash cows" that receive little institutional respect and a much smaller percentage of the college budget than many other departments. Universities often pay lip service to the focus on educational reform and the desire to turn out well-prepared teachers, but then they fail to provide the necessary resources to attract the best teacher-educators and to provide the best teacher education programs. Those resources often tend to go to more prestigious departments or colleges, such as those related to medicine, law, or business.

Make an effort to graduate more qualified teachers.

Commit to increasing the number and quality of graduates from your university's education program, especially those with specialized knowledge in areas of teaching shortages. The Texas A&M University System has vowed to raise the number of teachers its universities graduate and certify by 33 percent by 2004. The universities are especially focused on recruiting potential teachers in high-need areas such as special education, math, science, technology, foreign language, and bilingual education. The system also offers summer camps for high school students interested in becoming teachers.

Forge partnerships with K-12 schools.

Make teacher preparation a joint effort. In an article for Education Week, Charles Reed, chancellor of the California State University system, says universities are "inextricably connected to our country's K-12 schools.

Consider starting a professional development school.

Professional development schools allow a meshing of the theory and psychology of learning taught by university professors and the daily practicalities of teaching that include how to design lesson plans and classroom management.


American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. AACTE is a national, voluntary association of colleges and universities with undergraduate or graduate programs that prepare professional educators. It advocates on behalf of schools of education as well as provides information on a wide range of topics affecting teacher education.

Essential Conditions for Teacher Preparation. In an easy-to-read chart and text format, the International Society for Technology in Education lays out what education personnel -- from teacher-educators to local school administrators -- need to do to promote teacher preparation in technology.

National Center for Education Information. NCEI is a research organization specializing in survey research and data analysis. National and state surveys have focused on teachers, school administrators, school board presidents, state departments of education, university colleges of education, local school districts, and individuals interested in becoming teachers.

"What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future." This report from the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future proposes reforming professional development and teacher preparation programs as well as establishing both professional and academic standards in schools to ensure that all students have access to competent, qualified teachers. The report identifies inadequate teacher preparation and lax teaching standards among the current obstacles to achieving this goal.

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