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Tep Vol 19-N1

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Teacher Education and Practice, a peer-refereed journal, is dedicated to the encouragement and the dissemination of research and scholarship related to professional education. The journal is concerned, in the broadest sense, with teacher preparation, practice and policy issues related to the teaching profession, as well as being concerned with learning in the school setting. The journal also serves as a forum for the exchange of diverse ideas and points of view within these purposes. As a forum, the journal offers a public space in which to critically examine current discourse and practice as well as engage in generative dialogue. Alternative forms of inquiry and representation are invited, and authors from a variety of backgrounds and diverse perspectives are encouraged to contribute. Teacher Education & Practice is published by Rowman & Littlefield.

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9 Articles

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Editorial: Democracy Distracted in an Era of Accountability: The Work of Teacher Educators

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PATRICK M. JENLINK

Distracted from distraction by distraction

Filled with fancies and empty of meaning

Tumid apathy with no concentration

Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind

That blows before and after time . . .

T. S. Eliot (1980, p. 120)

The future of education is at best uncertain, the distraction from education’s democratic purpose lost beneath the distractions of political agendas. The politics of accountability now dominates discussions about all aspects of education—teaching and learning, curriculum, and assessment—as well as all aspects of educator preparation. We are distracted from education’s work in a democratic society, questions not asked nor answered, voices not spoken or heard. There are unanswered (and perhaps unanswerable) questions about what it means to educate students and teachers for “the public good” (Cochran-Smith, 2000) in the face of an increasing market economy of American education, confounded by an effort to redefine American education through federal policies such as No Child Left Behind. The “public” is distracted by the tightly regulated deregulation of education and concomitant narrowing of what stands as learning through a standards-based economy. Whereas accountability has captured the attention of the American public, the ubiquitous nature of standards has permeated all aspects of education, generating public discourse that works to distinguish between (1) the impact of technical standards such as those emblematized by No Child Left Behind and, relatedly, state-level mandated standards and (2) the need for standards of complexity that work both to recognize the complex and contextually bounded nature of education and to foster a more democratic system of education for all children and therein foster a more democratic accountability for education.

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The Relationship Between Preservice Teachers’ Reading Ability and Their Achievement on Teacher Certification Examinations

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MARTIN J. WARD AND TIM J. WELLS

ABSTRACT: Graduates of teacher education programs throughout the nation must pass state-mandated standardized paper-and-pencil exit tests to become certified teachers. This study examines the relationship between the reading levels of preservice teachers enrolled in a south Texas university and their scores on the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards–Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities exam. The validity of determining one’s teaching effectiveness through standardized testing is examined in light of the emphasis that this process places on the test taker’s reading abilities. Implications for teacher educators in response to the gatekeeping process of certification examinations for entry into the teaching profession are discussed.

Teaching has been described as “a science that is implemented by artists” (Wilen, Ishler, Hutchison & Kindsvatter, 2000, p. 6). This personal, relationship-driven aspect of teaching is developed and assessed in university teacher education programs. Teacher educators emphasize these highly important personal attributes and skills needed for effective teaching. Yet, ultimately, the conferring of certification for teaching hinges on state-mandated standardized testing.

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Paired Placements for Early Field Experiences

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MYRNA D. COHEN AND JANICE L. NATH

ABSTRACT: This article describes and evaluates the pairing of 2 preservice teachers to 1 mentor for early fieldwork. Traditionally, many programs have been reluctant to assign more than 1 student to a mentor. This study describes how the pairing is implemented; it addresses practical considerations; and it evaluates the innovation. Feedback gathered from open-ended surveys, Likert surveys, and interviews with preservice teachers, mentor teachers, and university faculty is analyzed. Results of the Likert survey show strong positive preservice teacher attitudes toward paired placements. Based on the open-ended surveys, themes were identified that were voiced by the preservice teachers and mentors. Responses were positive and support previous research findings on peer learning. Suggestions for further development and fine-tuning of this innovation are presented.

The value of school-based peer learning to the professional development of in-service teachers and preservice teachers has been explored in various ways and with favorable results. For example, Showers and Joyce (1996) developed the concept of peer coaching for in-service teachers and provided a structure wherein teachers could learn from one another. Their model includes a well-formulated protocol for peer observation and a peer support group structure (Hudson, Miller, Salzberg, & Morgan, 1994). Teacher educators have explored the benefits of peer coaching and peer observations for preservice teachers in their fieldwork as well (Anderson & Radencich, 2001; Neubert & McAllister, 1993; Pierce & Miller, 1994; Rauch & Whittaker, 1999; Wynn & Kromrey, 1999; Yopp & Guillaume, 1999). Although investigation of peer learning for preservice teachers has mostly focused on the student-teaching experience, some attention has been given to pre-student-teaching field experiences.

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Predicting Teacher Certification Success: The Effect of Cumulative Grade Point Average and Preprofessional Academic Skills Test Scores on Testing Performance

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BARBARA L. MICHIELS HERNANDEZ, SUSAN WARD, AND GEORGE STRICKLAND

ABSTRACT: Legislative mandates and reforms hold universities accountable for student certification test performance. The purpose of this investigation was to determine if cumulative grade point average scores and the preprofessional academic skills test scores predict performance on elementary certification test (professional development) scores of undergraduate education majors. The data were gathered from the scores of students (N = 84) using multiple regression at the .05 alpha level. Results revealed that 43% of the variation in the teacher certification test scores is explained by the variation in grade point average and pre-professional academic skills test scores. It is recommended that combined variables be used as admissions criteria for teacher education programs for higher success rates on the certification tests and for securing an acceptable university accreditation rating.

For the past 20 years, growing bodies of research, legislative mandates, and teacher education consortia have stirred controversy by indicating that reforms are needed in teacher education (Rebell, 1999). The legislative mandates and numerous teacher reform movements have initiated changes in teacher education program standards, admission requirements, and teacher certification (Paige, 2002). Later research has stimulated reports on the long-term effectiveness of new trends in revised teacher preparation practices and models (Hwang, 2002; Moore, 2003). Performance-based teacher certification has evolved as the new reform and has become a criterion for testing for university preparatory programs and certification (Mueller & Skamp, 2003; State Board for Educator Certification, 2004b).

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Listening to Students: “New” Perspectives on Student Teaching

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ALLEN TRENT, LESLIE ZORKO, AND ANNE HARRIGAN

ABSTRACT: The research presented in this article focuses on the learning and experiences of Wyoming public school students (elementary and secondary) in classrooms where University of Wyoming preservice teachers were engaged in student-teaching experiences. The teacher education literature fails to address the student-teaching experience from the perspectives of K–12 students. The article describes students’ views related to their learning and experiences during student-teaching residencies; it identifies ways that the presence of student teachers support and hinder students’ learning; and, last, it presents recommendations for teacher education programs based on the study’s findings.

The research presented in this article focuses on the learning and experiences of Wyoming public school elementary and secondary students in classrooms where University of Wyoming teacher education students were engaged in student-teaching experiences. As teacher educators, we are involved in multiple phases of the Wyoming Teacher Education Program, including student teaching. Much research has been conducted about student teaching; however, the overwhelming majority of this research focuses on the learning and experiences of the student teachers (e.g., Conway, 2001; Diaz-Greenberg, Baldwin, & Thousand, 1998; Graber, 1998; Graham, 1996; Han, 1995). Recently, some research has broadened to include mentor teachers’ and university supervisors’ roles in the process (e.g., Freidus, 2002; Koerner, Rust, & Baumgartner, 2002; Zeichner, 2002), but research that focuses on K–12 students in student teachers’ classrooms has been largely neglected. This study shifts the focus to the students in student teachers’ classrooms.

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A Critical Incident Inquiry: Credentialed Teachers Who Do Not Teach

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LISA ALASTUEY, MADELINE JUSTICE, JAMES HARDY, AND SANDY WEEKS

ABSTRACT: This research study involved the identification and categorization of critical incidents related to individuals who completed the teacher education program but did not teach in public school classrooms. The methodology of the study followed the guidelines put forth by John Flanagan’s critical incident technique. This study was conducted during the spring and summer semesters of 2004. Participants included 32 credentialed teachers who graduated between August 2000 and December 2003 from a senior-level university field-based teacher education program. Data analysis was conducted by categorization of themes that emerged from the incidents reported. A total of 56 critical incidents were reported. The results of the critical incident study identified 11 categories as reasons for not entering the public classroom: job availability, student-teacher–mentor relationship, family issues, salary/benefits, poor teacher preparation, perception, politics/religion, more credentials, alternative employment, criminal background, and nondiscernable.

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Does “Highly Qualified” Make You a “Star”?

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SUEANNE E. MCKINNEY, SHERELL FULLER, STEPHEN HANCOCK, AND BOB AUDETTE

ABSTRACT: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 set forth to hold all schools accountable to high standards and address the long-standing objective of closing the achievement gap between students from high and low socioeconomic backgrounds. The guidelines and criteria that describe highly qualified teachers emphasize pedigrees and standardized test scores as the basis for measuring quality and effective teaching. This review of the literature examines the criteria for “highly qualified” teachers from an urban contextual viewpoint and explores the characteristics of “stars,” or teachers who have demonstrated the ability to work effectively with urban children. We conclude that the “highly qualified” teacher standards of the No Child Left Behind Act do not adequately address the skills, knowledge, and dispositions needed by teachers to meet the demands and challenges of urban teaching.

A well-prepared teacher is vitally important to a child’s education, and he or she plays a significant role in children’s intellectual, social, and emotional development. There is an expanding body of evidence in the research that validates an unmistakable correlation between student achievement and teacher quality (Carter, 2001; Good & Brophy, 1997; Haberman, 1995, 2005; Haycock, 2001; Ladson-Billings, 2000; Mehan, Hubbard, & Villanueva, 1994; Pollard-Durodola, 2003; Rice, 2003; Sanders & Rivers, 1996; Wenglinsky, 2002). Despite the support, there is much debate regarding what actually characterizes a quality teacher.

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Commentary: The Thrill of Professionalization and the Agony of Deletes

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SUSAN FIELD WAITE AND JUDY A. LEAVELL

ABSTRACT: Although some teacher educators hoped that the creation and use of standards would help to professionalize teaching, the discourse of standards and accountability is now being used to erode teacher education. Many teacher educators who anticipated the thrill of professionalization through standards are now experiencing the agony of deletes, including a looming deletion of the public mission of teacher education and the public commons of education.

What are the appropriate roles of state and federal government in education? Should higher education embrace or shun an increasingly corporate university? We argue in this article that corporate-fueled federal intrusions into education have used the discourses of standards and accountability to slowly erode older meanings of education in favor of new “consumer training” conceptions of education. These discourses and their accompanying state and federal regulations subvert the public mission and public commons of teacher education into a standardized, technology-driven corporate institution that is driven by efficiency aims and profit seeking rather than the development of educated, ethical, diverse human beings.

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Book Review

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(Portland, Maine: Stenhouse, 2006) 244 pages, $18.00

LUCY MULE

In her foreword, Sonia Nieto writes,

Black Ants and Buddhists describes a teacher’s dedication to forging and nurturing a caring environment where children learn to become socially responsible and critical. While it is a book about creating community and hope in a first- and second-grade classroom, this powerful book is mostly about real children coming to consciousness about the world around them and taking steps, to paraphrase Paulo Freire, to learn to read both the word and their world. (p. viii)

Drawing largely on the ideas from the critical pedagogy perspective espoused by such theorists as Paulo Freire and Sonia Nieto, Black Ants and Buddhists is filled with stories of how to translate critical pedagogy theory into everyday classroom acts. Mary Cowhey writes,

I am talking about thinking critically and learning to learn, learning to use basic skills like reading, writing, solving mathematical problems, analyzing data, public speaking, scientific observation, and inquiry as an active citizen in your community. . . . I believe theory emerges from the practice, and that the very best teaching merges theory, practice and reflection. (p. 18)

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