California State University, Northridge and three other institutions to participate in the Teachers for a New Era signaled an urgent response to the inability of American higher education to prepare qualified teachers consistently. Eventually eleven universities were invited to join this effort at reform.
The lack of confidence in the role of universities is understandable, since the maze of pathways around and through preparation programs undermines coherence, as Lee Shulman has said, and as A Nation At Risk documented in 1983. (See the pathways chart, pp. 13, in the Math and Science Critical Pathways study.) Poorly educated pupils, taught by marginally qualified teachers, graduate from public P-12, threatening the nation's pre-eminence in the global knowledge economy.
There is strong evidence, as our team's research suggests, that effective teaching is even more crucial to pupil learning than socioeconomic factors. So, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, joined by the Annenberg Foundation and the Ford Foundation, and assisted at the start by the Rockefeller Foundation, invested in this project. TNE follows three principles:
Assessing Evidence: improving preparation programs, teaching strategies, and teacher support on the basis of valid and reliable evidence mainly of pupil learning.
Creating Strong Clinical Practice and Induction: insuring that P-12 setting and the university curriculum align and indeed overlap so that theory and practice reinforce one another.
Engaging the Arts and Sciences with Education: making teacher preparation--and pupil learning--everyone's responsibility because teacher candidates must learn not just subject matter but how to make subject matter teachable. The "two cultures" must align practices and principles for candidates to experience a coherent program.
Now in the sixth year, the accomplishments and plans of CSUN's team appear in the renewal report and Carnegie response, fourth-year report, the fifth-year plan, the evidence report, the summary at the beginning of year six, and the most recent evaluations by Rand and SRI in years three and four. Many projects are under way; some have melted away, as we concentrate ever more intensely on evidence of pupil learning. The three links under ACCOMPLISHMENTS, in the sidebar to this page, lead to summaries of work under each principle.