ERIC Identifier: ED477727 Publication Date: 2002-12-00
Author: Post, Linda - Pugach, Marleen - Hains, Ann - Thurman, Alfonzo
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education
Multiple Points of Entry into Teaching for Urban Communities.
The nationwide shortage of teachers is well documented, and nowhere is the
shortage more dire than in urban school districts (Recruiting New Teachers,
2000), which struggle both to recruit and retain new teachers. Not only do urban
school districts face a shortage of teachers generally, but also they continue
to face a persistent gap between a primarily white, middle class teaching force
and student populations that are primarily of color, have a native language
other than English, or are of low socioeconomic levels (Villegas & Lucas,
2002). When the majority of teachers in urban schools do not reflect the
communities of their students, the potential for a mismatch between teachers and
their students is unmistakable (Carr, 2002; Delpit, 1995; Kalyanpur & Harry,
1999; Hodgkinson, 2001; Hodgkinson, 2002), and "Different cultural beliefs and
practices have been noted as a frequent barrier to effective [read respectful]
interaction" (Harry, Kalyanpur and Day, 1999, p. 6). This lack of cultural or
language familiarity and understanding can be damaging to the goal of making
sure that every child in an urban school district achieves to his or her
potential (Gay, 2000; Gay, 2002; Howard, 1999).
The shortage in qualified personnel to work in urban environments (Villegas
& Clewell, 1998) and in specific disciplines continues (23rd Annual report
to Congress, 2001). For example, "A report earlier this year from the U.S.
Department of Education said that 13 percent of the special-education positions
in the nation's schools in 1999-2000 were being filled by teachers who weren't
certified in special education, including 12,000 positions being held by
substitute teachers" (Temkin, 2002). These shortages are accentuated by the need
to recruit and retain qualified personnel of different cultures, values and
languages (National Center for Education Statistics, 1996). Hanson (1998) notes,
"existing training programs for professionals who are most likely to work with
children with disabilities and their families still have relatively few students
who represent cultures with non-Anglo-European roots" (pp. 8-9). Similarly, few
higher education preparation programs are culturally responsive to ethnic and
language diversity (Isenberg, 2000; Gay, 2002; Kushner & Ortiz, 2000) or
have diverse faculty (Isenberg, 2000; APA, 1997). "If the needs of children and
families are to be authentically addressed, our leaders need to reflect the
communities they serve (Elliott, K., Alvarado, C., Copland, J., Surr, W.,
Farris, M., Genser, A., et al., 1999, p. 2).
In the face of such critical shortages, it appears traditional recruitment
strategies in teacher education alone will not be sufficient to meet this
ongoing need--at least not in the foreseeable future (Hodgkinson, 2002). One
strategy for cutting into the teacher shortage systematically is to support a
wide range of pipelines for those in our community who wish to become
teachers--in other words, multiple entry points into teaching. The goal is to
ensure that every individual interested in a career in teaching in the community
has access to a preservice program that best matches his or her education,
experience, family circumstances, and timeframe.
THE CONCEPT OF MULTIPLE ENTRY POINTS
At urban institutions
such as those that participate in the Great Cities' Universities Urban Educator
Corps (http://www.gcu-uec.org/), programs enable prospective teachers to begin
preservice preparation at multiple entry points. These programs are focused on
identifying individuals who have a desire to teach in urban schools and who
represent the diversity existing in urban classrooms. This goal has resulted in
the establishment of a broad range of partnerships focused on developing a
career lattice that moves an individual from one stage to the next with the end
result being an initial teaching license. Partnerships with institutions and
agencies means shared financial responsibility for these programs through base
budget allocations, grants and gifts. Similar efforts are underway with the
Holmes Group's Urban Network to Improve Teacher Education (UNITE: <http://www.holmespartnership.org/UNITE>).
THE ROLE OF THE P-16 COUNCIL
If a community is committed to supporting multiple entry points into
teaching, then by design it must also be dedicated to fostering a high level of
commitment among key local stakeholders across a range of institutions that play
a role in the preparation of new teachers for urban schools. The emerging trend
toward P-16 councils is promising in this regard. These interagency councils
exist at the state and local levels, and often include representatives from the
2-year technical (community) colleges, school districts, teachers' unions,
school boards, local teacher education institutions, the business community, and
local foundations. This collective commitment to improving the quality and
diversity of the local teaching force provides a supportive community
environment for implementing the full array of multiple pathways.
P-16 councils help facilitate widespread knowledge of the multiple pathways
available. Without cooperation and coordination, multiple entry points may
result in confusion for those who seek to become licensed teachers--with
seemingly too many choices for programs. But as representatives of each
institution become more knowledgeable about the available pathways into
teaching, and the populations for which each may be appropriate, they begin to
envision possibilities for making information available throughout the community
in a variety of formats (e.g., print materials, Web sites, recruitment
Articulation among the various institutions must also be smooth. If students
begin in one institution and transfer to another, the articulation must be as
seamless as possible. If students in alternative programs require a mentor from
the school district to support their first years of teaching, the coordination
between the program and the local urban school district must be strong. If
students in undergraduate or postbaccalaureate programs require multiple field
experiences in the classrooms of the most skilled teachers, articulation with
the district and the individual schools must be effective. The local P-16
council facilitates these relationships and strengthens them in a way that
simply is not possible when institutions function in relative isolation.
SUPPORT FOR MULTIPLE ENTRY POINTS
With an operational
governance structure, an on-going, consistent communication process connects all
of the community's programs and partners. As a result, an individual who wishes
to teach in an urban school can receive tailored advising to enter at the
appropriate point of the career lattice and at the appropriate partner
institution. The successful creation of this point of entry advising and
referral system provides a vehicle for working with someone who has no college
credit, some college credit, two years of college work, and someone who has
completed a four year college program and enters at the post-baccalaureate
level. The array of entry points include pre-college programs, two year programs
leading to four year programs, four year programs, post-baccalaureate
certification programs offering both traditional and alternative approaches, and
induction programs once the beginning teacher has received certification.
Entry points vary by discipline as well as level of education. For example,
in childcare, the early childhood professional organizations at the state level
include the participant's training, experience, and professionalism in statewide
professional recognition systems that are monitored outside of state departments
of education or human and family services (cf., The Registry,
http://www.the-registry.org; WI Department of Public Instruction, 2001).
Verification of entry-level course work completed outside of higher education
(e.g., through Head Start, Child Care Apprenticeship Programs, etc.) is
provided. Students often enter the teaching profession by traditional, parental,
or serendipitous routes within a "career lattice" rather than a "career ladder"
approach (Bredekamp, 1992; WI Early Childhood Collaborating Partners, 2001). For
higher education, point of entry advising is especially important in assisting
interested individuals who are just beginning to take college credits in
selecting appropriate courses related to teaching, rather than simply collecting
college credits that will not apply to the array of preservice options
At a state level, institutions of higher education can support multiple entry
points across public and private programs. For example, North Carolina has a
rigorous statewide teacher licensure program, NC TEACH, designed to recruit,
prepare, and support mid-career professionals as they begin a teaching career in
North Carolina's public schools (NC TEACH Newsletter, 2001). The program is
administered by the state's higher education system (University of North
Carolina Office of the President), in collaboration with the state's education
agency (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction). It is supported with
funding from Title II of the U.S. Department of Education Higher Education Act.
The program begins with a full-time summer course for five weeks offered at nine
host sites located throughout the state followed by seminars that are conducted
during the following school year. Some modules are taught online (NC TEACH
Newsletter, 2001). The students are assigned to a host site and receive
instruction from master teachers and higher education faculty, and are eligible
to earn 12-18 graduate credits at the host institution
(http://ncteach.ga.unc.edu). This accelerated program also provides students
with mentoring and support during their first year of teaching.
SUPPORT FOR A DIVERSE TEACHING WORKFORCE
A major strategy
of the multiple entry points approach is the recruitment of incumbent workers.
Many aides, paraprofessionals, day care workers, safety aides, secretaries,
kitchen staff, and other entry-level workers in the urban schools are seeking a
way to advance on the career lattice toward a career in teaching. As an example,
several programs have focused on recruitment of general aides and
paraprofessionals. These incumbent workers have already made a commitment to
urban schools and in many cases are more representative of the children
attending urban schools. Nationally, the DeWitt Wallace Readers Digest Funds has
supported these students in the Pathways to Teaching Careers Program as part of
its mission to "develop better ways to recruit and train a diverse corps of
teachers ready for the challenges and rewards of working in hard-to-staff public
schools in low-income urban and rural communities across the nation" (Focus:
Pathways, 1997). The Pathways program serves as a useful model for recruiting
paraprofessionals and selecting teacher candidates. (Clewell & Villegas,
At the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee, follow-up studies of Pathways
graduates and students in an alternative certification program (Metropolitan
Multicultural Teacher Education Program) show that over 94% of the graduates are
still teaching in the Milwaukee Public Schools. All graduates are rated
satisfactory or exemplary by their building principals, and over 80% of the
graduates are teachers of color. This illustrates an important reason for the
focus on incumbent workers. Individuals who live in the urban community and have
made a commitment to teach there are more likely to stay as teachers.
A goal in launching multiple entry points into
teaching for urban schools is to increase the number and diversity of teachers
who wish to work in the urban community. The design and delivery of preservice
programs of the highest quality is essential, no matter what the particular
structure or the point of entry. This means taking standards of performance
seriously, challenging programs to improve, and communicating clearly to all
potential students, from every pipeline and in every pathway, what it means to
be a good teacher for urban schools.
References identified with an EJ or ED number
have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should
be available at most research libraries; most documents (ED) are available in
microfiche collections at more than 900 locations. Documents can also be ordered
through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service: (800) 443-ERIC.
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