News Release from AASCU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 2017-02-06

Contact: Jennifer Walpole 202-478-4665

AASCU TASK FORCE RELEASES NEW TEACHER PREPARATION REPORT

(Washington, D.C.)—The Teacher Education Task Force of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has published a new report, Preparing Teachers in Today's Challenging Context: Key Issues, Policy Directions and Implications for Leaders of AASCU Universities. The report, released at AASCU’s 2017 Winter Academic Affairs meeting this past Saturday, presents timely and practical recommendations for institutional leaders and priorities for federal and state public policy for teacher education.

As the student population of the United States continues to grow in size and diversity, the demand for quality teachers will only increase. In recent years, however, the context in which teacher preparation programs operate has grown increasingly complex, and the improvements in practice and other innovations have been overshadowed by heavy scrutiny and shifting expectations. 

Formed in 2016, the AASCU Task Force—composed of higher education practitioners and experts—undertook a survey of presidents, provosts and education deans at state colleges and universities to gain a better understanding of the teaching profession’s current state. Task Force and survey respondents identified a broad set of challenges facing teacher preparation, including growing expectations coupled with declining teacher autonomy; low pay; teacher shortages; declining enrollment in university-based teacher preparation; and federal and state policies demanding greater accountability.

Recommendations in the Preparing Teachers report include those to encourage university administrators to continue to bolster clinical experiences for teacher candidates, and strengthen the relationships of teacher preparation programs with P–12 partners. The report also highlights the need to increase strategic recruitment into teacher preparation programs, particularly in high-need and shortage fields and demographic areas, and to build stronger articulation agreements with community colleges.

“Across the U.S., local school districts and state and federal policymakers are eager to strengthen the ways we educate the next generations of learners and citizens,” said Task Force Chair and State University of New York at Fredonia President Virginia Schaefer Horvath. “More than ever, we need partnerships from cradle to career, with teacher preparation programs focused on student success and connected to their communities.”

Public universities, like AASCU member institutions, are strategically positioned to facilitate that success, according to Jolanda M. Westerhof, AASCU associate vice president and director of teacher education. “Now is the time for the nation’s public universities to build on their long-standing commitment to preparing educators by focusing on the key strategies and policies outlined in this report,” said Westerhof. “By virtue of their predominance in teacher preparation, university-based programs are well-suited to lead reform efforts to help professionalize the field, and in turn, strengthen their schools and communities.”

Last year, 70 percent of AASCU member colleges and universities reported having articulation agreements with community colleges to facilitate students’ transfer to the university teacher preparation programs. These transfers constitute about 32 percent of the teacher candidate cohort at those institutions, and generally bring much-needed connections with local schools and perspectives from diverse communities to the universities.

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The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise of Opportunities for All.