In the past few weeks U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has spoken about the need to improve the way university-based teacher education programs prepare teachers for our nation. His call for change is, in fact, quite affirming to the teacher education work being done at UC Santa Barbara. [To read a national response from the Learning and Education Academic Research Network (LEARN), a coalition of leading research colleges of education, see this pdf.] All of our candidates have bachelors’ degrees in disciplinary areas. To be accepted in our program, candidates must have a 3.0 GPA, pass all state certification tests of general and subject area knowledge, and be chosen after a thorough interview and background check. They commit to an intense 13 month preparation program during which they are in high need public schools every day under the supervision of a mentor teacher, university supervisor, and school site supervisor.
They take rigorous graduate classes in the afternoons and evening. They learn how to teach children whose first language is not English and children with special intellectual, social, or emotional needs. They study child development, effective literacy strategies for children and adolescents, classroom management, assessment strategies that inform teaching, family collaboration techniques, and evidence-based instructional practices. They refine their understandings of how to teach, what to teach to meet rigorous state standards, and why their commitment to the success of every child is critical to the future of our nation. They are not recommended for a credential to teach until they have passed a demanding performance assessment that specifically tests their abilities to plan learning experiences for high need children. In fact, UCSB’s Teacher Education Program has been one of the leaders in a consortium of schools pioneering PACT, California’s Performance Assessment for Teachers. Secretary Duncan hailed PACT as “one of [the] most promising initiatives to date…the first nationally accessible assessment of teacher candidate readiness.”
Almost all our credential candidates also earn an M.Ed. Their masters’ in education degrees are based on research they do on the effectiveness of their teaching practices. Graduates of our Teacher Education Program are in great demand by regional schools because they enter their first positions having had extensive hands-on experience in developing classrooms in which young people thrive – classrooms that are safe, inclusive, and characterized by high expectations and data-based instructional strategies.
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