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Position Statement: Teacher Education in Georgia

Georgia Association of Teacher Educators

Georgia Association of Colleges of Teacher Education

Georgia Association of Independent Colleges of Teacher Education

 

 1.  Rigorous standards for teacher preparation programs must not be relaxed in the face of extreme competition for students and other resources.

Private and public teacher preparation institutions (e.g., colleges and universities) and agencies (e.g., RESAs, school districts) in Georgia are held to rigorous program development and review standards of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC) which utilizes the same standards used by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.  These various accreditation and approval requirements include continuous program improvement and rigorous adherence to professional and curricular standards. Teacher preparation program providers must be held accountable to these standards without relaxation in the midst of increasing pressure for overly rapid program development or extreme competition for students and other resources.  Competition from non-Georgia programs or private for‑profit providers that do not have to fulfill the rigorous PSC standards applied to Georgia institutions and agencies poorly serves our efforts to improve the quality of teaching in Georgia.

2.  Higher education and P-12 partnerships are essential for teacher retention, professional development and school improvement.

Across Georgia most teacher education programs have instituted professional development partnerships with local K-12 schools.  Through the combined resources of post-secondary and P-12 educators, professional development schools and similar partnerships have proven effective means to prepare and mentor new teachers, provide professional development for veteran teachers, and marshal resources for school improvement and reform.  To continue these efforts, teacher education programs need organizational flexibility and resources, while K-12 colleagues need additional incentives and support for sustaining these partnerships. 

3.  Greater support for alternative certification is necessary through sufficient funding, student loan, scholarship, and employer support. 

With the shortage of new teachers reaching a crisis level, it is imperative that alternative routes to certification are accessible to recent non‑education graduates and career changers.  Georgia's college and universities have developed several alternative certification models, but qualified students are often prevented from enrolling in these programs.   Prospective teachers need critical guided practice before assuming responsibility for the educational lives of children.  Field requirements are completed in public schools during regular hours of operation, which often conflict with employment needs of potential alternative certification students. Greater support for alternative certification students by their current employers or through sufficient loan and scholarship support is necessary. 

4.  Increased admissions standards into teacher education programs should be supported with increased beginning salaries. 

Despite increased admission standards into Teacher Education, recruiting new students into the profession remains difficult due to the lack of competitive teacher salaries.  In order to attract academically strong candidates to teaching, salaries must approach those available to other college graduates.  There is a growing salary gap between public school teachers and other college graduates.  Nationally, beginning teachers earn on average $8000 less per year than other college-educated adults of their age; teachers age 44-50 earn $23,000 less than counterparts in other occupations (Quality Counts 2000). 

5.  Georgia should create and refine incentives to attract college students and graduates into teaching.

Scholarships and loan-forgiveness programs for perspective educators are effective methods of attracting bright college students and graduates into education.  Currently, no incentives exist for undergraduates to choose teaching in critical-need fields or to work in urban or rural impoverished schools.  HOPE Promise scholarships go mostly to ECE majors.  Few graduate programs are structured to allow students to use HOPE Teacher scholarships while pursuing initial certification in critical need fields.  Both scholarship programs need increased funding to meet current demand as well as broader incentives focused on critical-need fields and schools.  

6.  Support is needed for efforts to bridge the gap between professional preparation and the first three years of teaching through mentoring and similar professional development programs. 

We lose many excellent teachers within five years due to professional isolation, working conditions, and low pay. Teacher education programs and school districts should work to cooperatively develop mentoring programs. Teacher education programs can train mentors for these new teachers from the local school districts. With release time from their school districts, mentor teachers can help retain these energetic and bright teachers.

7.  To attract teacher education faculty, credit should be given for years of teaching at P-12 levels. 

Colleges and universities in Georgia are having great difficulty attracting and retaining teacher education faculty.  For a teacher to make the transition from P-12 teacher to higher education faculty they often must take a significant reduction in salary.  In order to attract quality faculty with significant experience in teaching, institutions of higher education should give credit for the years teaching that P-12 teachers bring with them as beginning higher education faculty. 

 


© 2000, Dara Wakefield

 

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