ERIC Identifier: ED426056
Publication Date: 1998-12-00
Author: Hawley, Willis D. - Valli, Linda
Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
Guide to the National Partnership for Excellence and
Accountability in Teaching (NPEAT). ERIC Digest.
All children need excellent teachers. But those who need outstanding teachers
most are children placed at risk because of the economic conditions of their
families and communities; racial and ethnic discrimination; limited command of
English; and physical, emotional, or mental disabilities (National Commission,
The National Partnership for Excellence and Accountability in Teaching
(NPEAT), which is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office
of Educational Research and Improvement, seeks to place the improvement of
teaching at the center of efforts to improve schools (National Commission,
1996). To this end, NPEAT addresses two central problems that impede the
development of systemic reforms to improve the quality of teaching: (1) the
absence of agreement about effective strategies for improving teaching among
those who significantly influence the capabilities and motivation of teachers
and the conditions of teaching, and (2) the discontinuity, inconsistency, and
misalignment of policies and practices that influence the quality of teaching
across the career continuum of teachers. This Digest describes how NPEAT focuses
its attention on the best strategies to attract, prepare, retain, and support
teachers who serve the nation's neediest students in urban schools.
While many organizations hold membership in
NPEAT, the policies that give direction to the partnership are set by a Policy
Board composed of representatives from:
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
American Association of School Administrators
American Council on Education
American Federation of Teachers
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Council for Basic Education
Council for Exceptional Children
Council of Chief State School Officers
Council of the Great City Schools
Education Commission of the States
The Holmes Partnership
International Reading Association
National Alliance of Business
National Association for the Education of Young Children
National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Association of State Boards of Education
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
National Commission on Teaching & America's Future
National Conference of State Legislatures
National Council for Teachers of Mathematics
National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education
National Education Association
National School Boards Association
National Staff Development Council
New American Schools
Recruiting New Teachers, Inc.
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
NPEAT PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES
The work of NPEAT is
organized into Policy & Practice Strands that encompass high-promise
strategies for improving teaching: Recruitment and Retention, Teacher
Preparation, Induction, Continuing Professional Development, and Standards and
Assessments. These strands include an interrelated set of activities: the
development of research-based consensus around ideas, principles, and promising
policies and practices; the dissemination of knowledge and the support of
related action by partners and others; the identification of what we need to
know more about; and the conduct of relevant research and development that
leads, in turn, to usable knowledge.
RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION
NPEAT activities related to
recruitment and retention address the following issues: What are the most
effective strategies to recruit, admit, and retain students from
underrepresented groups and for areas in which there are teacher shortages? What
institutional, state, and national policies would change the characteristics of
the teaching force? What roles do public schools, community groups, institutions
of higher learning, and state policymakers play in obtaining a more talented and
diverse population in teaching? What models of recruitment exist in local
partnerships and in states that could serve as exemplars for schools and school
systems throughout the nation? How can we eliminate the need for emergency
certification of unqualified teachers? (Boyer & Baptiste, 1996; Murnane,
Singer, Willett, Kemple, & Olsen, 1991; Darling-Hammond & Sclan, 1996;
A second area of work is the
development and study of initial teacher preparation programs that ensure that
new teachers have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to effectively teach
diverse students. These programs are seen as the mutual responsibility of
university liberal arts faculties, education school faculties, and K-12 school
faculties where field experiences are undertaken.
Some of the essential questions to which NPEAT is seeking answers are: How
can the commitment of colleges and universities to the preparation of teachers
be strengthened? Does designing teacher education programs around national
standards improve teachers' effectiveness--especially those who work in
high-risk schools? How can teacher education candidates be taught to use
technology to facilitate student learning? How can colleges and universities be
held accountable for the quality of the teachers they prepare? How do the
processes and cultures of professional development schools influence teacher and
student learning? (Holmes Group, 1990; Roth, 1999)
Arguably, improving the successful induction of
new teachers into the profession would be the single most cost-effective
strategy for improving teaching. Investment in sound recruitment strategies and
initial preparation programs that draw capable individuals into teaching will be
wasted unless schools are structured to make use of new teachers' talents and
sustain their commitment. Thus, NPEAT is investigating induction programs for
novice teachers that enhance their capabilities and commitments to teaching.
These include year-long intern or residency programs and various types of
mentored learning experiences (Huling-Austin, 1990; Feiman-Nemser & Parker,
CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
development may enhance teacher knowledge and motivation. But unless the
conditions of work make possible new approaches to teaching, teachers are
unlikely to change their classroom practice (Hawley & Rosenholtz, 1985;
Little, 1993; Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995; Fullan, 1994; Sykes & Darling-Hammond, 1999). Therefore, NPEAT focuses attention on how schools can be
restructured to simultaneously foster teacher learning and student learning. The
fundamental questions asked in this set of activities are: What is the
relationship between teacher and student learning? What and how do teachers
learn throughout their careers? How can schools be restructured to improve
teaching and learning?
STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS
New standards for teaching are a
promising lever for transforming teacher education and professional development,
and ultimately teaching and learning. Standards have the potential to clearly
link teacher learning opportunities from teacher preparation programs through
career-long education and to ensure that students are taught by teachers who are
knowledgeable and competent (Darling-Hammond, Wise, & Klein, 1995; Wilson
& Ball, 1996).
NPEAT research and development seeks to guarantee that standards and
assessments really measure teachers' effectiveness with students and that new
assessments are fair and appropriate. Equally important are NPEAT studies that
seek to understand what kinds of learning opportunities teachers need in order
to meet these demanding new standards and what kinds of teaching contexts
support competent and accomplished teaching.
FACILITATING KNOWLEDGE-BASED ACTION TO IMPROVE TEACHING
large part of the reason the nation fails to provide highly qualified teachers
for all its children is the misalignment of the principal influences on the
teaching profession--including university degree requirements, union contracts,
license requirements, certification standards, tenure requirements, public
perception of the teacher's work, in-service requirements, salary and reward
structures, and leadership practices. Therefore, in all its work, NPEAT focuses
on understanding and facilitating effective partnerships that seek to enhance
the quality of teaching.
To that end, NPEAT engages in several types of activities that encourage and
support the implementation of effective policies and practices. The various
strategies to foster the use of knowledge to achieve systemic reforms that NPEAT
employs include the collaborative ways it designs and conducts research;
publications by NPEAT and its partners; workshops, conferences and
teleconferences; the development of models of effective practice and learning
materials for use in professional development; technical assistance; and the
support of knowledge-based collaborative action.
While pursuing these strategies, NPEAT will make extensive use of
telecommunications. Persons and organizations interested in the improvement of
teaching can participate in a National Dialogue on the Improvement of Teaching
through NPEAT's Web site (www.npeat.org). The dialogue identifies the
characteristics of effective policies and practices, summarizes the relevant
research, and provides examples of programs that work and references to sources
of support. The National Dialogue and information about all of NPEAT's
activities and findings from its research are available on the web site.
NPEAT's goal is to ensure that America will
provide all students with their educational birthright: access to competent,
caring teachers. NPEAT's work is focused on a set of strategies that hold
promise for continuously improving the quality of teaching. Knowledge from
research and the wisdom of practice is used to develop consensus about
principles and guidelines for the design of improved policy and practices. As
NPEAT supports the implementation of effective strategies it also studies
variations in their impact. This, in turn, yields new topics for research and
strengthens the foundation for the continuous improvement of teaching.
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