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Preparing Teachers for a Changing World

What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do

Sponsored by the National Academy of Education

Edited by

Linda Darling-Hammond

John Bransford

In Collaboration with
Pamela LePage
Karen Hammerness
Helen Duffy

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The Jossey-Bass Education Series contents


All professions at some point in their development have worked to achieve consensus about the key elements of a professional education curriculum: the building blocks of preparation for all entrants into the occupation. In medicine, this happened at the turn of the twentieth century following the release of the famous Flexner Report that critiqued the uneven quality of medical education. Efforts to create a common curriculum for legal education followed shortly thereafter. Fields like engineering and architecture turned to this work in the mid-1900s. Over the last two decades, the teaching profession has begun to codify the knowledge base for professional practice and standards for the work of practitioners.

Meanwhile, great strides have been made in our understanding of learning and the teaching practices that support it. Over the last two years, the National Academy of Education, through its Committee on Teacher Education (CTE), has been considering the implications for the curriculum of teacher education of what the field has learned about effective learning and teaching, as well as about the learning of teachers.

This volume is the result of the Committee’s work. It outlines core concepts and strategies that should inform initial teacher preparation, whether it is delivered in traditional or nontraditional settings. It is intended primarily for those who are responsible for the preparation of teachers: deans and faculty members in university-based programs as well as district personnel and school-based faculty in cooperating schools or alternative programs. A shorter summary volume is aimed at policymakers as well as practitioners. A companion volume examines the curricular implications of knowledge for teaching reading, as an initial effort to instantiate these recommendations in a content field. The Committee chose reading for this initiative because there is already a substantial body of research about how students learn to read, and a growing consensus about professional practice in the teaching of early reading upon which teacher education curriculum could be built.

This work stands on the shoulders of many other efforts. In 1989, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education published a seminal effort, the Knowledge Base for the Beginning Teacher, and followed this up with the Teacher Educator’s Handbook in 1996. The National Board for Professional Standards (NBPTS), established in 1987, built on research about learning and teaching in developing standards articulating what expert teachers should know and be able to do. Additionally, the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), a consortium of state education agencies, higher education institutions, and national educational organizations, developed model standards and assessments for licensing beginning teachers that rest on the same body of research. Together these efforts create a continuum of expectations from beginning teaching to accomplished levels of practice.

These standards have become widespread. They have been incorporated into the teacher education accreditation standards of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, and, according to a recent survey, most teacher education institutions have used these national and state standards to ground the foundation for their program designs and for teacher education outcome measures (Salzman, Denner, & Harris, 2002).

This report’s recommendations are informed by these professional standard-setting initiatives and by important research compilations, such as the National Research Council’s 1999 Report, How People Learn, which provides a comprehensive overview about what is known in the area of learning; the several Handbooks of Research on Teaching, sponsored by the American Educational Research Association; and the Handbooks of Research on Teacher Education, sponsored by the Association of Teacher Educators. These compilations have helped to develop conceptual frameworks for synthesizing knowledge about learning, teaching, and the learning of teachers.

Although this report has benefited greatly from the work that has preceded it, it is different from these other efforts in two ways: first, it seeks to inform the curriculum for teacher education by considering how what we know about student learning and teaching should inform what teachers have the opportunity to learn. Second, it considers emerging evidence on teacher learning and teacher education to suggest some of the strategies that may help new teachers learn this material more effectively. This report does not develop new standards or lists of all the things that teachers should know. Instead it includes recommendations for how knowledge deemed essential for beginning teachers can be incorporated into the initial teacher education curriculum. The report does not try to cover all of the curriculum content that people may argue is desirable in preservice programs; rather, it focuses on content considered essential based on strong professional consensus and on research evidence. A major emphasis is on preparing teachers for future learning as professionals. This is reflected in the title of this volume: Preparing Teachers for a Changing World.

The recommendations in this volume were developed through professional and scholarly consensus based on research about learning, teaching, teacher learning, and teacher education. In addition to building on the experiences of the standards boards, professional organizations, and research groups to articulate the knowledge base, we also have drawn on the knowledge and experience of CTE members and have conducted reviews of research associated with children’s learning, development, assessment, and other domain-specific areas, as well as on how teachers learn, as the basis for making recommendations about curriculum. We have examined teacher education programs and curriculum artifacts (syllabi, assignments, and assessments) and vetted these ideas with researchers and practitioners of teacher education.

Similar processes have been used in developing curriculum in other professional schools such as law and medicine. For example, to obtain the necessary information about what content belongs in a medical school curriculum, developers reviewed relevant literature, consulted experts, and collected information from academics and practitioners about current practices and problems (Kern, Thomas, Howard, & Bass, 1998; Mandin & Dauphinee, 2000). Like other professions, we have also drawn upon the experiences and curriculum conceptions of specific professional education programs. Because the contexts of teacher education are so varied, we have looked at a wider range of well-developed programs than did the legal profession in basing much of its long-standing core curriculum on that of Harvard’s Law School (Harvard Law School, 1936; Lagemann, 1983) or the medical profession in basing much of its curriculum development on the model developed at Johns Hopkins in the early twentieth century (Miller, 1980; O’Malley, 1970; Lagemann, 1983). Since then, many law schools and medical schools across the country have been involved in curriculum development and evaluation efforts that also provide parallels to our work (University of Michigan Law School, 1959; Marston & Jones, 1992; Mandin, Harasym, Eagle, & Watanabe, 1995; Watson et al., 1998; Mandin & Dauphinee, 2000; Joughin & Gardiner, 1996).

The Committee on Teacher Education comprises a diverse group of researchers, as well as practicing teachers and teacher educators, whose expertise spans the learning sciences; developmental psychology; linguistics; subject matter areas such as mathematics, English, science, and history; and teacher education. To inform and ground its work, the Committee has collaborated with eight cooperating universities: The City University of New York, Dillard University, Indiana State University, New York University, Stanford University, University of Georgia, University of Texas at El Paso, and Xavier University. Liaisons from each institution played a critical role in providing grounded feedback. As part of their responsibilities, they took the work of the Committee back to their universities and conducted focus group seminars providing feedback on (1) what new teachers need to know, (2) how teacher education programs can help candidates cultivate that knowledge, (3) how this knowledge relates to career-long professional development for teachers, and (4) how this information can be most useful in various teacher education contexts that must also take into account such complex factors as the licensing structures that govern the teaching profession and education regulations of many other kinds.

Our effort has been to produce a volume that can be used by those who are doing the work of teacher education as well as those who are designing policies to support this work. We hope this volume hastens the day anticipated by Lee Shulman when he suggested that, “Those who can, do, and those who understand, teach.”


Committee co-chairs:

John Bransford
University of Washington

Linda Darling-Hammond
Stanford University

Committee members:

James Banks
University of Washington

David Berliner
Arizona State University

James Comer
Yale University

Sharon Derry
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Evelyn Jenkins-Gunn
Pelham Memorial High School

Pamela Grossman
Stanford University

Carol Lee
Northwestern University

Joan Baratz-Snowden
American Federation of Teachers

Marilyn Cochran-Smith
Boston College

Emily Feistrizer
National Center for Education Information

Edmund Gordon
Teachers College, Columbia University

Cris Gutierrez
Los Angeles Unified School District

Frances Degen Horowitz
The City University of New York

Lucy Matos
New Visions for Public Schools

Luis Moll
University of Arizona

Anna Richert
Mills College

Frances Rust
New York University

Lorrie Shepard
University of Colorado, Boulder

Catherine Snow
Harvard University

Kenneth Zeichner
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Arturo Pacheco
University of Texas at El Paso

Kathy Rosebrock
Novato Unified School District

Alan Schoenfeld
University of California, Berkeley

Lee Shulman
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Guadalupe Valdés
Stanford University

Staff: Helen Duffy, Karen Hammerness, Pamela LePage


Like all community efforts, this work owes a great deal to many individuals and organizations. The Committee would like to recognize Joan Baratz Snowden of the American Federation of Teachers, who conceived the initial idea for this effort and developed a proposal to move it forward. Ellen Lagemann, then president of the National Academy of Education, worked to get the project launched, and Nel Noddings, her successor as president, provided ongoing support and assistance to bring it successfully to its conclusion.

Key staff members at the Academy, especially NAE directors Kerith Gardner and Amy Swauger, supported the committee’s work in innumerable ways. In addition, the Committee was ably assisted by its own directors and staff, including Ed Miech, Pamela LePage, Karen Hammerness, and Helen Duffy, who kept the committee organized, arranged meetings, helped to develop the outlines of the volume, and pursued subcommittees, writers, reviewers, references until the work was complete.

All of the committee members contributed to the conceptualization of the volume and reviewed many drafts over a period of three years. In addition, a group of cooperating universities—representing large and small schools of education from both the public and private sectors—provided liaisons to the Committee who informed the committee’s deliberations, took ideas back to their universities for discussion and testing, provided feedback to the committee from their colleagues, and reviewed and critiqued chapters in progress. We are grateful to these individuals and their universities for supporting their contributions: Nicholas Michelli from the City University of New York; Kassie Freeman from Dillard University; Diana Quatroche and Tom Dickinson from Indiana State University; Frances Rust from New York University; Linda Darling-Hammond from Stanford University; Michael Padilla from the University of Georgia; Arturo Pacheco from the University of Texas at El Paso; and Rosalind Hale from Xavier University.

The Committee is grateful to Robert Floden, Michael Fullan, Sonia Nieto, and Seymour Sarason for very helpful reviews, and to Maureen Hallinan, who skillfully served as moderator for the revision process on behalf of the Academy.

The work of the Committee was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, under grant number R215U000018, and by the Ford Foundation, under grant number 1030-0468. Project officers Thelma Leenhouts of the Department of Education and Joe Aguerreberre of the Ford Foundation offered insightful comments and suggestions that sharpened the focus of the work and improved its outcomes. While we are grateful for the support of these funders, the product of this work does not represent the policy of either agency, and readers should not assume endorsement by the federal government or the foundation.

Finally, we appreciate the efforts of the many other teachers and teacher educators who contributed to this work by reviewing aspects of the volume in progress, and, most importantly, who daily engage in the work of teaching and learning. We hope, most of all, that this contributes to their important work.