Appearing last week before the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness, Daniel Fallon, program director for higher education at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, said that quality teachers have a greater influence on pupil achievement than any other school-based factor and further suggested that how the United States educates its teachers will largely determine the degree to which it succeeds in the 21st century knowledge economy.
In his testimony, Fallon cited Teachers for a New Era, Carnegie's seven-year initiative to stimulate development of excellent teacher education programs at selected colleges and universities, as an important effort to improve the quality of teaching in the nation's schools. The initiative, which is supported by the Annenberg and Ford foundations, is organized around three principles: teacher education programs should be guided by a respect for evidence, including attention to pupil learning gains accomplished under the tutelage of teachers who are graduates of the program; faculty in the arts and sciences must be fully engaged in the education of prospective teachers, especially in understanding the subject matter and in general and liberal education; and education should be understood as an academically taught, clinical practice profession requiring close cooperation between colleges of education and practicing schools.
In addition, the initiative has found that the production of quality teachers can be accelerated through incentives that help state and local school districts construct comprehensive educational data systems; that academy-based induction supplemental to district-based programs has helped to reduce teacher turnover and reduce costs; and that evidence-based continuous-improvement design for teacher education reform benefits the management of teacher education within higher education institutions and ultimately produces more quality teachers.
"The Teachers for a New Era initiative is connecting teacher education programs to working classrooms," Fallon told the committee. "The design principles require an ongoing, professional relationship between the education school and its recent graduates, and use pupil learning in the classrooms of those graduates as the primary means of measuring the new teachers' quality."