Curriculum changes affect potential teachers

by Christie Reed
Editorial Director

Departmental revisions, deemed mandatory by the Commission of Teacher Credentials (CTC), are being made in ULV training programs to reflect the changes in content and methods in public schools.

This new curriculum—being implemented into the departments of Spanish, French, Music, English, Art, Behavioral Science, Math, Physical Education and Science—affect those students who want to become teachers in a public school.

Over the last three years, the CTC has rewritten its standards for each program, and these new standards were then sent to university campuses.

“We must write up a proposal that states what a certain department at ULV is doing, in my case Physical Education, and send it to state review panels and hope that it is accepted,” said Rex Huigens, professor of physical education and chair of the Athletic Department. Huigens is in charge of writing that department’s proposal.

State review panels in Sacramento either accept the revisions or address areas of concern. After the approval, the department chair meets with a panel of three to five reviewers and explains what lies “in between the lines” of their new program.

There are two parts to a teaching credential at ULV, subject matter courses and course work in teaching methodology. The revisions will affect the subject matter only.

“We are not talking about rewriting majors, we’re just talking about revising subject matter preparation,” said Dr. Tom McGuire, professor of education and chair of the Education Department.

“It will not mean all new classes either,” said Dr. Peggy Redman, assistant professor of education and director of teacher education. “Many old ones will fulfill the new revisions.”

The purpose of the revisions are to both upgrade and to make sure the material taught to potential teachers is current.

“For example, the science teaching credential will be integrated to teach at a high school level, where sciences have recently been combined. Our program will be integrated, as opposed to departmentalized, to fit with high school teaching,” said Dr. McGuire.

According to Huigens, with changing times and curriculum in public schools, universities need to stop and ask, “Are we teaching what we should be teaching in each of the subjects?”

Each public school receives a “framework” for each subject that is taught. At the same time, teacher educators in universities follow a handbook that includes 12 to 15 standards that have to be met by potential teachers in gaining their credentials. The framework and handbook should coincide.

“We need to produce teachers that can teach in a new way,” said Dr. Redman. “We love the upcoming revisions because it means the people who go through our program are really ready to teach.”

The new curriculum will also prevent common mismatching between the way teachers are trained and the expectations of the schools that hire them.

The two “waves” of revisions will be completed at different times over the next year, but all new curricula will be approved and implemented by January 1997.

“It is going to be helpful in recruiting students because incoming freshman will want to know if the programs at a university meet the new standards,” said Huigens. “Otherwise they may get stuck taking the NTE (National Teachers Exam) which is very difficult.”

The NTE is an exam that can be taken as a substitute for the subject matter preparation required of a teaching credential, and it may also be taken if a teaching student does not complete preparation material.

“It is a test that cannot be passed unless the person is extremely knowledgeable in his major,” said Dr. Redman.

The new revisions are expected to incorporate better curricula in the nine departments.

“It is going to be an advantage and it is going to make our programs stronger,” said Huigens.

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