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RITER: A Collaborative Project to Strenthen Teacher Education and Schools
Unformatted Document Text:  RITER: A Collaborative Project to Improve New Teachers and Schools Content The body of research on the importance of teacher quality as a determinant of student achievement is growing and persuasive (Darling-Hammond & Youngs, 2002). Teachers in urban and suburban schools must be able to work with children with a variety of needs, and in the changing landscape of today’s schools, the task of preparing for this work must include not only those in teacher education, but those who can support and provide additional knowledge and skills to tomorrow’s classroom leaders. Research has shown that specific areas of knowledge, dispositions and skills are important to promoting successful learning for others (Ferguson, 1991; Ferguson & Ladd, 1996, Greenwald, Hedges & Laine, 1996) and some have been found to be particularly important in positively impacting student success. Ferguson (1991) found that teacher expertise – as measured by scores on content knowledge licensing examination, master’s degrees, and experience – accounted for approximately 40% of the measured variance in students’ reading and mathematics achievement gains at grades one through eleven. A commitment to technology integration has been supported by researchers such as Bull and Cooper (1997), who emphasize the need for effective modeling of technology integration across teacher education and arts and science courses, and Schacter (1999), whose research summary reveals several effects of using education technology in classroom instruction: increased standardized test scores; more efficient learning; positive achievement gain in all areas in which technology is used; improved attitude towards learning and self-concept; and increased teacher use of cooperative/group learning in place of teacher-centered instruction. “The changing school population is one of the most critical factors in American education today. …Clearly, it is increasingly imperative that tomorrow’s teachers be prepared to deal responsibly with issues of race, ethnicity; class, and language.” (Villegas and Lucas, 2002; p. xi). Villegas and Lucas argue that these changes demand a revised curriculum in teacher preparation. In addition, although 96% of general educators currently teach students with disabilities or have done so in the past, training gaps exist in teacher preparation. “Fewer than one-third of those who had been teaching six yearsor fewer received any preservice preparation in collaboration with special education teachers. Just over half received preparation in adapting instruction, and only two-thirds were taught how to manage student behavior.” (SPeNSE Fact Sheet, 2000). Working with the diversity of learners is a high priority. The National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future noted in What Matters Most that “even with more extensive preservice teacher preparation, the beginning year of teaching presents new challenges and problems for all teachers that pose a steep learning curve.” (NCTAF, 1996; p. 80) Pre-service preparation is only a beginning to developingand maintaining teacher quality. The support must continue through a structured induction process and well into the teacher’s career. In addition, Susan Moore Johnson noted that the five common characteristics of the effective teacher induction programs she studied as part of Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in

Authors: Callahan, Jane. and Byrd, David.
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RITER: A Collaborative Project to Improve New Teachers and Schools
Content
The body of research on the importance of teacher quality as a determinant of student
achievement is growing and persuasive (Darling-Hammond & Youngs, 2002). Teachers
in urban and suburban schools must be able to work with children with a variety of needs,
and in the changing landscape of today’s schools, the task of preparing for this work must
include not only those in teacher education, but those who can support and provide
additional knowledge and skills to tomorrow’s classroom leaders. Research has shown
that specific areas of knowledge, dispositions and skills are important to promoting
successful learning for others (Ferguson, 1991; Ferguson & Ladd, 1996, Greenwald,
Hedges & Laine, 1996) and some have been found to be particularly important in
positively impacting student success.
Ferguson (1991) found that teacher expertise – as measured by scores on content
knowledge licensing examination, master’s degrees, and experience – accounted for
approximately 40% of the measured variance in students’ reading and mathematics
achievement gains at grades one through eleven. A commitment to technology
integration has been supported by researchers such as Bull and Cooper (1997), who
emphasize the need for effective modeling of technology integration across teacher
education and arts and science courses, and Schacter (1999), whose research summary
reveals several effects of using education technology in classroom instruction: increased
standardized test scores; more efficient learning; positive achievement gain in all areas in
which technology is used; improved attitude towards learning and self-concept; and
increased teacher use of cooperative/group learning in place of teacher-centered
instruction.
“The changing school population is one of the most critical factors in American
education today. …Clearly, it is increasingly imperative that tomorrow’s teachers be
prepared to deal responsibly with issues of race, ethnicity; class, and language.” (Villegas
and Lucas, 2002; p. xi). Villegas and Lucas argue that these changes demand a revised
curriculum in teacher preparation. In addition, although 96% of general educators
currently teach students with disabilities or have done so in the past, training gaps exist in
teacher preparation. “Fewer than one-third of those who had been teaching six years
or fewer received any preservice preparation in collaboration with special education
teachers. Just over half received preparation in adapting instruction, and only two-thirds
were taught how to manage student behavior.” (SPeNSE Fact Sheet, 2000). Working
with the diversity of learners is a high priority.
The National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future noted in What Matters Most
that “even with more extensive preservice teacher preparation, the beginning year of
teaching presents new challenges and problems for all teachers that pose a steep learning
curve.” (NCTAF, 1996; p. 80) Pre-service preparation is only a beginning to developing
and maintaining teacher quality. The support must continue through a structured
induction process and well into the teacher’s career. In addition, Susan Moore Johnson
noted that the five common characteristics of the effective teacher induction programs
she studied as part of Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in


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