Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Educators want to improve future teachers

Group to work with colleges

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SOUTHGATE — Future teachers at Northern Kentucky's colleges should get more preparation in areas such as math and English and more time in school classrooms before graduation.

        That's what the Council of Partners in Education wants to accomplish this year.

        The group — educators from kindergarten through college and representatives from the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce — met Tuesday to plan strategy. It hopes to tweak teacher education programs at Northern Kentucky University and Thomas More College to keep them in line with national and state standards.

        “Somewhere we have to make sure teachers are getting what they need to do well in the real world,” said Darrell Garber, NKU College of Education associate dean.

        The council will ask members of learning societies, like national associations of science or math teachers, to review standards for subject areas.

        The council will then ask Northern Kentucky teachers to help determine exactly what students need to know to be effective teachers of English, science, social studies and math.

        Included in that discussion will be the issue of whether teachers should earn a minor in their subject area, or a specialty designation as required by the state.

        “The minor sounds a little stronger to me than a specialty,” Campbell County Superintendent Roger Brady said. “I'd like to see a minor required for elementary teachers.”

        The state Education Department now requires elementary teachers to have a specialty in one subject area. Middle school teachers must specialize in two. High school teachers must have more rigorous content area knowledge.

        In general, a minor is 24 credit hours in one subject. A specialty is 21 credit hours.

        The council will also look at:

        • How teachers are taught about testing and how to use assessments throughout the year.

        • How teachers are exposed to special education. Administrators with school districts, NKU and Thomas More said regular education teachers need to know more about handling special education situations.

        • How to incorporate writing across subjects. School administrators and principals said teachers in all subjects should know how to teach students to write better.

        “The typical response from non-English teachers is that it's not their job, leave it to the English teachers,” said John Williamson, director of curriculum and instruction in Fort Thomas Schools. “But the kids are assessed on writing in all subjects.”


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