Virginia Tech Restructures Teacher Education Programs

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 28, 2003 – Changes are underway in Virginia Tech's teacher education programs.

"Restructuring teacher preparation programs at Virginia Tech is part of a university-wide process of programmatic reshaping," says Jerry Niles, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. "The major change is that all programs will be focused at the graduate level. Programs will continue to prepare pre-service teachers, provide advanced degree programs for teacher administrators and counselors, and work collaboratively with K-12 schools in partnerships."

Graduate programs that lead to teacher licensure in elementary education, secondary education, and vocational education remain at the core of Virginia Tech's teacher preparation, according to Niles. Graduate secondary teacher education includes English, science, mathematics, social studies, second languages, and music. The graduate vocational educational program includes business, marketing, and family and consumer sciences. A reading specialist program prepares experienced teachers to earn statewide endorsement as reading specialists.

The elementary education program has reconfigured its entry route to open the admission process to all students from across the university who have met the general studies requirements and acceptance scores for the state required teacher examinations, Praxis I and II. In the past, one route into the elementary education program has been the early childhood major housed in the department of Human Development. This undergraduate program is closing, having accepted its final graduating class, and will phase out by 2007. Freshman accepted for fall 2003 will matriculate through their full undergraduate program and will be eligible for the graduate elementary education program based on meeting the admission requirements.

"What is most exciting about this change," according to Patricia Proudfoot Kelly, Director of the Center for Teacher Education, "is that there is now a way to accommodate more students with other majors, who meet the admission standards, to participate in and graduate from our elementary education teacher program."

Mary Alice Barksdale, elementary education program area leader and Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, points out the problems of 16 and 17-year old students needing to decide on an elementary education major while still juniors in high school. "To participate in our undergraduate program, they had to make a commitment to a teaching career before their senior year in high school. Now they can take time to discover their primary interests and then choose elementary education for their graduate degree."

All undergraduate teacher education programs are being phased out over the next four years, as the emphasis shifts to graduate education. Health and physical education programs will graduate the last of its majors within the next three years. Undergraduate career and technical education programs and the undergraduate technology education program will graduate the last of their majors during the next four years. While Career and Technical Education already has accredited graduate teacher education programs in place, the Technology Education graduate program is under development. It will be submitted in the fall of 2003 for review, with applicants to be accepted for fall 2004.

The department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies continues their mission of preparing school principals and superintendents for leadership and administrative duties, and counselors and education research methodologists for private and public sector employment.

Recently, The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) reviewed Virginia Tech's professional education and teacher education programs. NCATE is the accrediting body for colleges and universities that prepare teachers and other professional personnel for work in elementary and secondary schools.

"Virginia Tech has passed every review since its first one in 1972 and remains fully accredited," says Kelly. NCATE is expected to issue its latest assessment in October 2003.