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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Gold stars for UA teachers

Even after graduation, UA-educated teachers are receiving high marks.

Teachers graduating from the UA regularly meet or exceed expectations by the end of their first year of teaching, according to a survey of Arizona principals conducted earlier this year by the Arizona Department of Education.

Renée Clift, associate dean for professional preparation in the College of Education, said the data helps to reaffirm that university-based teacher preparation is “”valid, useful, and important.””

“”We were just ecstatic to see the results,”” Clift said. “”I just think it speaks very highly of our teacher preparation programs on campus.””

Clift said the exceptional faculty and a system that puts students out of their desks and into real-world teaching environments strengthens career preparation in the UA College of Education.

“”We put our students out in schools for two or three semesters prior to student teaching,”” Clift said. “”Our faculty are bringing in teachers and residents to support our program, and I think the fact that our folks are engaged in practice in schools many times prior to student teaching is just an incredible strength.””

Ron Marx, dean of the UA College of Education, said he thought that the amount of time students spend in a real-world teaching environment has contributed greatly to career preparation and success.

“”Our students spend a lot more time actually in schools preparing to be teachers. … A minimum of a half of all of our teacher education in our various programs in the College of Education are in actual schools.””

Marx also said that the crucial components on which the UA focuses in preparing successful teachers are the thorough comprehension of content and learning how to successfully educate students.

“”There are two coequal pieces. … That’s one thing we do in our program is try to make them really balanced in terms of content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge,”” Marx said.

This was the first year the Arizona Department of Education conducted this survey.

The UA College of Education conducts its own survey with students each fall and spring, in which the most recent results indicated that more than 90 percent of students would grade their program courses with an “”A”” or “”B.””

Marx said he believes that the survey was done as a response to criticism of university-based teacher preparation.

“”I think we in the education field are reacting to public criticism and they wanted to see if that criticism was defensible or not,”” Marx said. “”This data seems to indicate that principals believe by and large teachers, and certainly our teachers, are well prepared to do their work. I think their motivation was to get data to answer that question.””

Clift said that the exceptional results are helping to invalidate a national argument as to the validity of university-based teacher preparation.

“”I think this is one first step at not griping about the critics but getting data to answer the critics,”” Clift said. “”I know I’m going to take the information and send it to people I know in Washington to say … here’s the facts.””

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