ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Eight states are beginning a national pilot program to transform teacher education and preparation to emphasize far more infield, intensive training as is common practice in medical schools.
"Teaching, like medicine, is a profession of practice," said State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, who is co-chairwomam of the expert panel that released a report on the recommended changes Tuesday in Washington. "Making clinical preparation the centerpiece of teacher education will transform the way we prepare teachers."
The pilot program developed by school and higher education officials with teachers unions to improve instruction is being done in California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon and Tennessee as well as New York. The states agreed to implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning created by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Instead of exposing student teachers to varied classroom experiences at the end of their academic pursuit, the new system would put student teachers into classrooms earlier and more often. It could include rounds, similar to the system used in teaching hospitals in which mentors provide constant critiques to students in real-life situations.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the gathering, webcast nationally, that too many colleges stress theory with too little classroom time.
"There is little or no accountability for turning out effective teachers," Duncan said, calling for "outcome-based" reviews of teacher training programs. "It is time to start holding teacher preparation programs far more accountable for the impact of their graduates on student learning and achievement."
The group also recommends more online and video demonstrations as well as case-study analysis by teachers.
"This is huge, a real turning point," Zimpher told The Associated Press.
She said the new model will "turn teacher education upside down" and could be in colleges within two years. And in states with pilot programs, the first elements will likely be in place beginning in the fall 2011 semester.
States with pilot programs will work with school districts and their regional teacher colleges with an emphasis on improving instruction in high-needs, low-income urban and rural districts.
The reform would make teacher education and continuing education a shared responsibility of schools and universities.