The Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators
A State Unit of the Association of Teacher Educators
and The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
Dr Thomas R. Hawkins, chief consultant to the Briarwood Group teacher recruitment program endorses most of the objectives identified in the PAC-TE statement below. Dr. Hawkins, during his career as an educator has had several opportunities to help evaluate teacher educator programs in Pennsylvania, at the request of the PA Department of Education.
He has also been actively involved as an advocate for full state equity funding for public schools, and the reduction and/or elimination of property taxes.
The Briarwood Group Associates is vitally interested in Pennsylvania teacher recruitment for Pennsylvania schools, and wants each an every teacher educated and certified in Pennsylvania to be fully employed after graduation, thus utilizing the cost by Pennsylvania taxpayers, and tuition providers to the fullest.
Pride; Accountability; Commitment; Teacher Education
The Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators (PAC-TE) is the state unit of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Association of Teacher Educators. It continues the tradition of the Pennsylvania Association of Liberal Arts Colleges for the Advancement of Teaching, a group that traces its roots to almost eighty years ago. PAC-TE is dedicated to providing strong advocacy for teacher education in the Commonwealth, and it does so with an interest in guaranteeing that every student at all levels and in all settings has the opportunity and right to learn with the most highly qualified and effective teachers possible.
Virtually all colleges and universities with teacher education programs approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education hold institutional membership in PAC-TE, and over 500 teacher educators maintain membership. PAC-TE is the unified voice of teacher education in the Commonwealth.
Because of its deep interest and investment in all levels of learning in the Commonwealth, PAC-TE welcomes the opportunity to share its insights and positions with others involved in the same issues.
PAC-TE POSITIONS ON KEY EDUCATIONAL ISSUES*
PAC-TE believes that all educators must be properly prepared prior to being given any teaching assignment in the Commonwealth and should not be allowed to develop appropriate skills and dispositions at the expense of students they encounter along their learning curve.
PAC-TE believes teacher education programs based in colleges and universities are uniquely qualified to evaluate and recommend for certification those who have demonstrated, over an extended period of time and under close observation and supervision, the broad variety of understandings, skills, and dispositions necessary for continual, self-motivated professional and personal growth as a practicing leader of developmental activities for students placed in their charge.
PAC-TE believes that all applicants for certification, whether out-of-state, career changers, intern program graduates, or traditional program graduates, should be required to meet the same high and rigorous standards. There should be no easy, shortcut methods of certification or of guaranteed reciprocity that sacrifice the interests of Pennsylvania citizens. This applies as well to such non-traditional programs as Teach For America and the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence with their limited research evidence of efficacy, especially regarding pedagogical skill, the real test of effective and productive teaching.
We believe that an appropriate mechanism for alternative certification within the Commonwealth currently exists in the Intern Program. Any program of non-traditional or alternative certification should meet the language and letter of the requirements of Chapter 49, just as traditional and intern programs do.
Program Approval and Peer Review
PAC-TE supports the PDE program approval process as a flexible, responsive, and challenging mechanism for determining the quality of institutional teacher education programs and maintains that all preparation programs, whether based in colleges and universities or not, should meet the same high approval standards.
PAC-TE believes that program review teams should be broadly representative of the profession of teaching and should include team members from teacher education programs, K-12 classroom teachers, and school administrators. In the peer review process, the staff persons of the PDE should serve as liaisons only, with assistance from PAC-TE in the training and preparation of team members and the review of the process.
Teacher Supply and Demand
PAC-TE believes that the surplus of teachers produced in most certification areas in Pennsylvania should be seen as an unusual advantage and be used to guarantee that all Pennsylvania students have real highly qualified instructors. Significant incentives for hard to staff areas and a statewide web-based listing of job announcements and placement opportunities should be developed to encourage movement of teacher candidates across the state.
PAC-TE believes that incentives should be considered that would attract, reward, and retain the best qualified of teachers to serve in the most challenging areas.
PAC-TE maintains that the professional accreditation process must be applied to all teacher education programs to ensure the highest quality preparation for all teacher candidates. PAC-TE believes teacher candidate tests must be aligned with state licensure certification requirements including standards for student performance in P-12 schools.
Affirmative Action and Ready to Teach Act
PAC-TE believes that preparing teachers from ethnic minority groups is critical to providing Pennsylvania's communities and students with teachers reflecting those communities' diversity.
PAC-TE believes in the need for realistic, reliable, and valid testing and grade point average requirements that are supported by sound research as successful and meaningful at informing and regulating the admission and retention of students in pre-service teacher education programs. This essential validity should be related to the act of teaching and not to peripheral or assumed connections to other variables.
PAC-TE is concerned that certain populations (as defined by race, gender, SES, scholastic background, geographic region, etc.) are disadvantaged by the current testing programs. This practice must be changed.
Changes in Certification
When new or changed certification procedures need to be reviewed, it is important that the Department of Education working closely with the PA State Board of Education hold public hearings to gain input from informed parties before action is taken. PAC-TE is most willing to participate in such hearings.
Social Studies Certification
PAC-TE believes that the change from a generic Social Studies certificate to two separate certificates in Citizenship Education and Social Sciences was greatly to the disadvantage of the current and future teachers, administrators, and school board members of the Commonwealth, as well as its students and parents. Moreover, it was accomplished without adequate opportunity for public hearings and testimony. This decision should be reconsidered, and PAC-TE believes the generic Social Studies certificate should be restored.
Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA)
PAC-TE believes that high quality teaching requires strong content knowledge, documented instructional skills, ongoing performance assessment, and appropriate personal dispositions. Each and all are necessary prerequisites for effective practice.
PAC-TE believes that teachers certified in Pennsylvania under Chapters 49 and 354 currently exceed all NCLBA requirements and that the NCLBA should not be a reason for lowering state standards to fill positions now held by the emergency certified. Rather, creative approaches should be used to address the real problems causing such vacancies, especially in schools with large numbers of at-risk children.
PAC-TE believes that all children in all areas of the Commonwealth have the right to a teacher who genuinely is highly qualified in the current sense of being fully certified. Adjustments to language to be in compliance with the NCLBA that do not guarantee full learning opportunities for students are at best misleading and at worst immoral.
PAC-TE is interested in working with other vested parties in developing realistic standards and guidelines for middle level education that meets the requirements of the NCLBA and practical staffing requirements.
PAC-TE believes that the November 14, 2002 action by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education setting its implementation plan for the NCLBA should be reexamined at the earliest opportunity because the concessions to good practice made or implied therein significantly weaken rather than strengthen the quality of teachers prepared for Commonwealth schools.
Funding for Education
PAC-TE believes that the Commonwealth holds the responsibility for funding at least the majority of basic education costs. Efforts should be made to reduce or eliminate dependence on local property taxes in the interest of improving equality of educational opportunity in Pennsylvania.
PAC-TE supports the improvement of all existing public schools in the Commonwealth, especially those facing the greatest challenges. Energy and funding should be directed toward these public schools, not toward supporting untested and divisive alternatives to American common schools.
Readiness for School
PAC-TE believes that too many students start school at a significant disadvantage compared to other more fortunate students. A state supported system of kindergarten and pre-kindergarten education should be made available to all students, reflecting the research-based evidence indicating that pre-first grade learning is critical to full student growth and development.
PAC-TE maintains that, in accordance with NCLB, children in the critical development years of birth through five are entitled to highly qualified teachers as defined by Pennsylvania guidelines for teacher preparation and certification. Preservice teachers preparing for positions in early childhood education, therefore, must be required to undergo the same state levels of preparation as all other preservice teachers.
PAC-TE affirms the need to prepare regular educators to teach special needs children and to prepare special needs teachers with sufficient content knowledge to work effectively to assist students with special needs to work toward the attainment of academic standards.
Furthermore, PAC-TE affirms the plan to reach full federal funding (40%) of special education programs within seven years as proposed in the reauthorization of IDEA, but with guaranteed federal funding linked to the philosophical guarantee.
PAC-TE is concerned about the recent testing fetish that characterizes American Education. So much energy and attention currently is devoted to meeting what are at times limited and artificial testing standards that students are getting very limited assistance in more important skills such as learning to solve problems, learning to make good decisions, learning to learn, and clarifying and understanding important values. Other important, but untested curriculum areas also are being ignored to "teach for the test(s.).
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
PAC-TE strongly encourages the Pennsylvania Department of Education to offer vigorous support to National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification in the Commonwealth. This support should take the form of significant recognition of this accomplishment and coordination of the federal subsidy money available to help underwrite candidate expenses.
PAC-TE has been privileged to serve as the Candidate Subsidy Administrator for Pennsylvania for NBPTS certification candidates but believes that this responsibility is rightfully that of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. PAC-TE urges the Secretary of Education to take appropriate steps to assume this responsibility and stands willing to assist in the transition process.
Pennsylvania Department of Education Leadership
PAC-TE believes that individuals appointed to positions of leadership in the PDE should have appropriate formal education as well as depth and breadth of experience in public school education and/or teacher education. PAC-TE commends the Governor for the appointment of the current Secretary of Education.
PAC-TE welcomes the opportunity to be consulted in the selection process of key members of the Department of Education, State Board of Education members, and other key education appointments and suggests that among its members are those highly qualified to serve in important leadership roles.
Professional Development Assistance Program
PAC-TE agrees with the state legislature and believes that the Professional Development Assistance Program in its current form offers little important and valuable information to educational leaders. Funding directed to this initiative better could be used for other purposes.
* Revisions are made to these position statements as required. The complete current list always may be found on the PAC-TE website (www.PAC-TE.org).
For further information, please contact:
Dr. James R. Flynn
Executive Director, PAC-TE
12841 Dundon Road
Edinboro, PA 16412
Dr. Terry W. Blue
One Alpha Drive
Elizabethtown, PA 17022