Education Policy Center
Teachers for a New Era Project, 2002-2007
The preparation of teachers has long been a key commitment at Michigan State University. In 2002, MSU took yet another major step forward when it became part of the Carnegie Corporation of New York's groundbreaking reform initiative known as Teachers for a New Era (TNE).
Of the nearly 1,400 American universities that prepare teachers, only MSU, Bank Street College of Education in New York, California State University at Northridge, and the University of Virginia were asked to be part of the multimillion dollar project.
The philanthropy's goal for TNE was to establish nationally recognized "exemplars" of outstanding teacher preparation. Carnegie expected that the success of MSU and the other institutions, their graduates and the research produced during the project would challenge other universities to follow these ideas.
In announcing the selection of the four institutions, Carnegie President Vartan Gregorian said, "Teaching reform is central to school reform, and these institutions are pioneers in the movement. If we really want to improve student achievement, we have no choice but to improve teaching."
As part of the project, MSU received $5 million over five years to establish a model for preparing high-quality teachers for the myriad demands of the contemporary American classroom. In addition to the Carnegie Corporation, other funders included the Ford, Annenberg and Rockefeller foundations. The University raised an additional $5 million to further the project activities.
The MSU Vision
The TNE initiative treated teacher education as a university-wide responsibility that includes general, subject area, and professional education courses, as well as experience in K-12 schools. A unique aspect of MSU's approach was a focus on the kinds of subject matter knowledge would-be teachers need to improve student learning. Plans called for revising or creating (new) courses and developing new coalitions of university and K-12 school faculty. Another emphasis involved an understanding of context: the characteristics of the students, the schools, the communities in which they teach.
Assessment was pivotal to all aspects of the MSU initiative. The project committed to identifying or developing assessment tools and promoting their use in continual program improvement and in tracking student progress. Another important goal was to have graduates use assessment tools as an integral part of their teaching to support student learning.
To provide continuing support and promote the continuing professional development of MSU-trained teachers, a newly-devised induction program was made available to graduates in the first two years of their careers.
At the end of the initiaitve, MSU's university-wide teacher education program was preparing teachers who were more knowledgeable and skilled in their subject areas, better able to teach their subject to diverse learners, and more proficient in using assessment information to guide their teaching. MSU's experiences and results serve as a model of teacher education reform for other programs and institutions.
MSU's Teachers for a New Era project led to changes in five areas of teacher preparation:
- the design of new content courses in English, mathematics, the social sciences and the sciences that are well integrated with education courses focusing on pedagogy and student learning
- the overhaul of education coursework and teacher education field experiences, both in subject matter and teaching methods so that content and context are central
- the development of a new two-year induction program for beginning MSU teachers
- the creation of a new MSU focus on preparing teachers for urban schools and educating more teachers from groups of people underrepresented in the teaching profession
- The use of assessments to strengthen the entire MSU teacher education program and evaluate its effectiveness
Michigan State University's highly regarded teacher preparation program has been a leader in the reform and development of teacher education for nearly 30 years. MSU has been a frontrunner as an advocate of extended field experience in schools for MSU students and strong content preparation of teachers. MSU's program has led the country in building deep connections with K-12 schools, as well as implementing a successful fifth-year internship program for new teachers. Through the Teachers for a New Era initiative, MSU helped lead the way into a new era of modeling teacher education as a university-wide responsibility.
The TNE Design Principles (PDF file)
The TNE Standards (PDF file)
Toward a New Model (PDF article from MSU College of Education magazine, 2003)
For more information, please contact Dr. Robert Floden, Co-Director of the Education Policy Center and Co-Principal Investigator of the TNE project, at (517)355-4494 or firstname.lastname@example.org.