CSUN part of national teacher education reform

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In 2001 CSUN’s College of Education was one of 11 U.S. schools selected by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to participate in a nationwide program designed to re-envision teacher education called Teachers for a New Era.

TNE was conceived by the Carnegie Corporation to help strengthen teaching in grades K-12. The corporation launched an extensive examination, researching an estimated 1,300 public universities nationwide before announcing the first four universities chosen to participate.

“We chose schools that represented different constituents,” said Karen Egan, program officer of TNE, regarding the different characteristics of the 11 schools that were selected. “This opportunity was meant to be a challenge, not necessarily a prize or reward.”

After conducting research, examining public data, as well as numerous site visits, the Carnegie Corporation chose the first four higher education institutions they wanted to participate, which included CSUN. A year later, seven other universities, including the University of Virginia and the University of Washington, were added to the program.

CSUN was endowed a $5.5 million grant over a five-year period for the project.

The program is funded by the Carnegie Corporation, which plans to contribute an estimated $30 million towards the project. The Ford Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation have also contributed an estimated $5 million each.

CSUN welcomed the opportunity to participate in the program, said Philip Rusche, dean of the College of Education.

CSUN’s participation in TNE has allowed the campus to work with other institutions, as well as help focus on the development of new programs and strategies to help educators and policymakers tackle the reform issues of the future, Rusche said.

“We are eager to interact with national universities to share information and ideas,” he said. According to Rusche, CSUN has the one of largest public education programs in the state, responsible for preparing teachers for school systems throughout the region.

Fall 2005 is the beginning of the fourth year of TNE at CSUN, and since 2001 the College of Education has begun to integrate evidence-based decision making into all aspects of its teacher education program and has established with the Los Angeles Unified School District its Schools for a New Era program as part of its TNE work.

One of the main issues addressed by TNE is that many children are moving up in the school system but are not retaining or learning the information being taught, Rusche said.

“There is a great concern too that many children are not effectively learning,” Rusche said. “We need to find the reasons and address them, and we know teacher preparation is one of them. The goal of TNE is to reinvent teacher education by having the strongest programs possible to improve teacher performance of our graduates.”

In addition to the TNE program, the Carnegie Corporation also works through various programs to improve literacy levels and urban school reform.

“Our objective with this program is to improve student achievement in public schools by reforming teacher preparation,” Egan said.

By developing state-of-the-art programs at schools and universities nationally, the Carnegie Corporation hopes to build a stronger foundation for tomorrow’s teachers, so that they can better help their students, according to Egan.

As part of the program, CSUN has embraced the three principles established to help redesign teacher quality. Firstly, all aspects of the teacher education program should be based on evidence that links the university’s program to the classroom practice of the credential graduates and to the achievement of pupils in K-12 classrooms.

The second principle calls for the engagement of the arts and sciences, which equates to arts and sciences professors being full partners with education faculty. The third principle focuses on teaching as a clinical practice profession, which means that involvement of expert K-12 classroom teachers in preparing new teachers is key to a successful teacher education program.

“As someone who has experienced the program, I know it is important for future teachers. The goal is to prepare us with the skills and knowledge we need, so that we can be better educators for tomorrow’s future,” said Patrizia Puccio, who received her bachelor’s degree in child development and teaching credential at CSUN, and currently teaches in LAUSD.

Renee Hassija can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.