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Article

Sylvia Chong and Saravanan Gopinathan

Establishing and maintaining teacher quality in Singapore is a process-oriented strategy that requires good policies at the macro level and effective processes at the implementation level. High teacher quality requires rigorous entry requirements, effective evidence-based preparation, and continuous professional development and support at the school level for teacher professionalism. Further adequate compensation and incentives to upskill or reskill are essential. These policies and practices are especially important in this era of challenging pedagogic reform, evolving views of learning and new roles for teachers as learning designers. Teacher policies and practices contribute to the high standing of teachers in Singapore and the consistent high performance of Singapore students in international assessments.

Article

Jason Loh and Guangwei Hu

Since the turn of this century, and especially in the past decade, Singapore has consistently done well in international benchmark studies, be it the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), or the International Baccalaureate diploma assessment. Singapore’s sterling performance in these different benchmark assessments has been widely attributed to the quality of its teaching force, which is, in turn, ascribed to the teacher education programs provided by its sole teacher education institution – the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Teacher education began during the country’s colonial past, but there was no designated provider of comprehensive training until teacher training was institutionalized in 1950, when the Teacher Training College was established. After Singapore gained independence in 1965, the institution’s capacity expanded rapidly as a teacher training department and later as a statutory board within the Ministry of Education. In 1991, to raise the stature of teacher education, the Teacher Training College was incorporated as an autonomous institute within the newly formed NTU. Due to the need to ensure the survival of a tiny island nation over the years, it has been imperative to educate the population for industry and development. In the process, tensions have arisen from: (a) the recruitment of huge numbers of teachers and the concomitant quality of their training, (b) collaboration with the Ministry of Education, and (c) the influence of educational research on theory and practice. In the third decade of the 21st century, with the stranglehold that neoliberalism has on many educational systems around the world, including Singapore, will NIE be able to prepare its future teachers to navigate and survive in such a climate, while continuing to strengthen its theory-practice nexus? With the dwindling of student numbers across all sectors and the accompanying reduced need for new teachers in the country, will NIE look beyond the shores of Singapore, internationalize its programs, and take on a leadership role in the region?

Article

David Kaufman and Alice Ireland

Simulations provide opportunities to extend and enhance the practice, feedback, and assessment provided during teacher education. A simulation is a simplified but accurate, valid, and dynamic model of reality. A simulation allows users to encounter problem situations, test decisions and actions, experience the results, and modify behavior cost-effectively and without risking harm. Simulations may or may not be implemented using digital technologies but increasingly take advantage of them to provide more realism, flexibility, access, and detailed feedback. Simulations have many advantages for learning and practice, including the ability to repeat scenarios with specific learning objectives, practice for longer periods than are available in real life, use trial and error, experience rare or risky situations, and measure outcomes with validated scoring systems. For skills development, a simulation’s outcome measures, combined with debriefing and reflection, serve as feedback for a formative assessment cycle of repeated performance practice and improvement. Simulations are becoming more common in preservice teacher education for skills such as lesson planning and implementation, classroom management, ethical practice, and teaching students with varying learning needs. Preservice teachers can move from theory into action, with more practice time and variety than would be available in limited live practicum sessions and without negatively affecting vulnerable students. While simulations are widely accepted in medical and health education, examples in teacher education have often been research prototypes used in experimental settings. These prototypes and newer commercial examples demonstrate the potential of simulations as a tool for both preservice and in-service teacher education. However, cost, simulation limitations, and lack of rigorous evidence as to their effectiveness has slowed their widespread adoption.

Article

Bhujendra Nath Panda, Laxmidhar Behera, and Tapan Kumar Basantia

The regulation of teacher education is important to promote quality educator preparation across the world, and many countries have regulatory bodies in the attempt to ensure this. Yet, the quality of teacher education in many corners of the globe is falling. Lack of maintenance and deterioration of professional standards are found in various programs and policies, for example, in access or admission policies, appointment of personnel, infrastructure maintenance, and modes or styles of delivering pedagogical skills, among others. Teacher education programs around the world are not governed by a single system. There are various modes though which teacher education is offered, such as departments of education in universities or institutions, independent teacher education universities or institutions, and the like. Regulatory bodies regarding teacher education, which originated after the middle of the 20th century, mainly perform these prime functions: provide recognition or affiliation to the teacher education institutions based on certain criteria; set standards for the infrastructure of the institutions for running the programs; define or regulate the curricula of the programs; and formulate guidelines for the award of certificates, diplomas, and degrees. The nature and functions of regulatory bodies vary from country to country, keeping in mind the contextual demand of teacher education in the respective countries. Teacher education regulatory bodies are more visible in federal or decentralized countries because of the diverse features and complex nature of their teacher education systems. A regulatory body becomes dysfunctional when it deviates from its main concerns and objectives; for example, it is observed in some cases a regulatory body of teacher education performs accreditation-related functions, whereas in other cases the accreditation body of education performs the regulatory function of teacher education. Yet, the regulatory bodies of teacher education should work according to the mandates and objectives entrusted to them. When a regulatory body of teacher education system is free from impediments that affect it and works with zeal to achieve its mandates, it can effectively increase the quality of the teacher education system. The stakeholders of a teacher education system feel better about the system when its regulatory body is transparent, constructive, and trustworthy.

Article

Manya Whitaker

Urban charter schools are public schools located in major metropolitan areas with high population densities. The majority of urban charter school students identify as Black or Latinx and often live in under-resourced communities. Urban charter schools are touted as high-quality educational options in the school choice market, yet debates about the merits of charter schools versus traditional public schools yield mixed results that substantiate arguments on both sides of the political aisle. However, even high-performing urban charter schools have a bad reputation as mechanisms of school segregation and cogs in the school-to-prison pipeline. Higher than average test scores and graduation and college enrollment rates do little to mollify those who complain about severe discipline, racial segregation, unqualified teachers, teacher attrition, rigid scheduling, and a narrow curriculum. Urban charter schools’ emphasis on standardized testing and college preparation may overlook the culturally relevant educational experiences that low-income, racially diverse students need to compete with their wealthier, White peers. As such, education reformers have offered a myriad of suggestions to improve urban charter schools. Most prominently is the need to racially and economically desegregate urban charter schools to enhance the social and material resources that supplement students’ learning. This includes increasing teacher diversity, which research demonstrates minimizes the frequency of suspensions and expulsions of racial minority students. Urban charter school teachers should also be knowledgeable about the sociocultural landscape of the community in which their school exists so that they understand how students’ out of school lives affect their learning processes. Finally, curricular revisions are necessary to support students’ post-high school goals beyond college enrollment. Enacting such reforms would facilitate equitable, rather than equal, learning opportunities that may help narrow racial and economic achievement gaps in the United States.

Article

Educational reform measures adopted in India since early liberalization led to systemic changes in the provisioning and practice of school and teacher education. Despite judicial intervention, the state withdrew from the responsibility of developing institutional capacity to prepare teachers, leading to a de facto public policy that undermines the potential role of teachers and their education in achieving equitable, quality education. The policy narrative constructed around quality and knowledge created the logic of marginalizing the teacher, undermining the teacher’s agency and the need for epistemic engagement. Commitment to the Constitution-led policy frame was gradually subverted by a polity committed to privatizing education and a bureaucracy committed to incrementalism and suboptimal solutions to the several challenges of universalizing quality education. A discourse constructed around teachers, their education, and practice led to narrowing curriculum to a disconnected set of learning outcomes and putting the onus of learning on the child. In the absence of robust institutional monitoring of the Right to Education effort and poor fiscal and teacher provisioning, this act too became a target of neoliberal reform, leading to dilution. The wedge between the constitutional aims of education and market-based reforms has become sharper as the practice of education prioritizes narrow economic self-interest over crucial public and social concerns. This has gradually hollowed out the Constitution-centered national policy perspective on education as critical to the needs of India’s disadvantaged and plural society. A major fallout of this has been the decoupling of concerns for social justice from those for quality education.

Article

Ensuring quality teachers and quality teacher education programmes have been fundamental global concerns over the decades. High quality teachers are critical to the future development of national educational systems and economic vitality. Teachers’ quality and professionalism are closely linked to their professional standards, preparation and development. Teacher education, therefore, plays a central role in preparing quality teacher and also laying foundation for the development of teacher as a professional. Worldwide, professional standards, teacher standards, teaching- leaning standards and teacher education standards are considered instrumental for improving teacher preparation, their quality and professionalism. In this context, it becomes pertinent to deliberate upon the multiple standards frameworks in operation and how these frameworks are informing teacher education programmes for preparing quality teachers. The discourses on standards and benchmarking provide effective platforms for measuring and improving performance, practice, and knowledge of teachers. Standard framework can be considered a diagnostic approach to the delivery of education which evolves through research and practice to generate new knowledge and to maintain an accountable profession. The analysis of teacher standards in both developed and developing countries clearly indicates that standards contribute to the professionalization of teaching and raise the status of the profession. Therefore standards and quality dimensions form the cornerstone for the teacher education policy, planning, and implementation. The ideas, concepts, and constructs for standards and benchmarking in teacher education are derived from comparative perspectives and implications on quality dimension processes. The concepts of standards and benchmarks in teacher education around the globe are interpreted and used in diverse ways. The developed countries of the world have specific or explicit teacher education standard frameworks, as per their country-specific expectations and requirements. Countries such as the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Scotland, and Singapore have exclusive standards frameworks for initial teacher education. Singapore and Finland have recognised the implication of teacher education standards and benchmarking on improving teaching profession. The implementation of standards is considered an important part of the solution to the problem of assessment, accreditation, and maintenance of teacher quality by the United States of America and Australia. Acknowledging the potential of standards to raise teacher quality, the East and South Asian countries are using implicit models by drawing essence from teacher, teaching and learning and professional standards frameworks as guiding reference for teacher education .The comparative analysis of standards frameworks across different countries reveals common features such as professional knowledge, professional competencies, professional skills, and professional conduct. Therefore, it can be argued that teaching learning and professional standards make teacher education programmes accountable to deliver quality and to prepare competent teachers. Though the use of a standards framework is highly acknowledged, it is equally critiqued by many researchers. In order to substantiate the deliberation, the major question of whether standard frameworks are facilitating teacher education or act as a trap can be explored. This question rallies around both the merits and demerits of the multiple use of standards in teacher education. Though explicit and implicit models for teacher education standards are in operation, it is recommended that standard framework should be flexible and dynamic in nature in order to be replicated and adopted by various teacher education programs. Despite the raised criticism, once can argue that standards frameworks are necessary for ensuring teacher education quality. The teacher education framework model necessitates continuous research and innovation support to make it more dynamic and contextual.

Article

School-based professional development for beginning teachers must be seen as a dynamic identity and decision-making process. Teachers as lifelong learners from the beginning of their career should be able to engage in different forms of teacher education that enable them to progress their learning and development in ways that are relevant to their own individual needs and the needs of their schools and pupils. Teacher individual professional learning is necessary but not sufficient for sustainable change within groups in school and within school as an organization. It is helpful to consider three elements. First, note the importance to schools of recruiting and developing high-quality teachers. Teachers are among the most significant factors in children’s learning and the quality school education, and the questions why and how teachers matter and how teacher quality and quality teacher education should be perceived require serious considerations from academics, policymakers, and practitioners. Second, understand teacher education as career-long education, and problematize the issue of teachers and coherent professional development within schools, asking key questions including the following: “how do schools create effective opportunities for teachers to learn and develop?” Third, focus on the particular journey and the needs of beginning teachers because their early career learning and development will have an impact on retention of high-quality teachers. It is important that coherent lifelong professional education for teachers is planned and implemented at the level of education systems, individual schools, teaching teams, and individual teachers.

Article

Klaas van Veen, Jasmijn Bloemert, and Fenna Wolthuis

Educational reforms in the Netherlands have a strong ideological nature. The main reason is that the quality of the educational system is generally high. Due to the ideological nature of educational reforms, teachers and schools are often not involved in the design of the reforms, which constitutes the central cause of reforms failing. The current reform regarding preparing the Dutch educational system for the 21st century also has ideological features, although attempts were made to involve teachers and schools to a large extent, making it more promising to succeed.

Article

Liang Du, Huimeng Li, and Weijian Wang

Rural education has received considerable attention from researchers and policy makers in their attempts to understand the deep-rooted rural/urban dichotomy in China. Most debates surround how to improve the “quality” of rural education and to “rebalance” the level of educational development between rural and urban regions. For this purpose raising the “quality” of teachers across rural schools is highlighted as the key element in many policies and studies, and the focus has shifted from addressing a teacher shortage to the recruitment and retention of quality teachers, especially in those remote regions. Issues in China’s rural education are not only reflections of rural–urban differences but also reproduce these social differentiations. Those who pay the price of the entrenched rural/urban dichotomy in China are the increasing number of “left-behind” children in the rural villages as well as the “floating” students in the urban schools whose numbers have also increased in the past decades. Most members of both groups tend to undergo a social reproduction process in the school systems and eventually become workers in the manufacturing and service industries in urban centers. Meanwhile, rural education in China is also abundant in culturally meaningful processes. While many scholars and policy makers view the rural school as a critical site for passing on the cultural inheritance of “rural China,” rural students themselves nevertheless creatively make meaning of their daily experiences and produce rich cultural forms. Some of them develop certain forms of “counterschool” culture as they experience educational failure, while others take up cultural traits valued by their rural families and turn them into a form of cultural capital, which consequently plays a pivotal role in the educational and social mobility of rural students.

Article

Rebecca Lazarides and Lisa Marie Warner

A teacher’s belief in his or her own capability to prompt student engagement and learning, even when students are difficult or unmotivated, has been labeled “teacher self-efficacy” in the context of social learning and social cognitive theory developed by Albert Bandura. Research shows that teachers with high levels of self-efficacy are more open to new teaching methods, set themselves more challenging goals, exhibit a greater level of planning and organization, direct their efforts at solving problems, seek assistance, and adjust their teaching strategies when faced with difficulties. These efforts pay off for self-efficacious teachers themselves, who have been found to be affected by burnout less often and are more satisfied in their jobs but also for their students, who show more motivation, academic adjustment, and achievement. While self-efficacy of the individual teacher explains how the individual teacher’s beliefs relate to students’ academic development, collective teacher efficacy helps to understand the differential effect of faculty and whole schools on student outcomes. Consequently, systematically exploring effective techniques to increase teacher self-efficacy is highly relevant to the teaching context. Previous research has suggested four sources related to the development of self-efficacy: mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and somatic and affective states. Although there is ample evidence that teacher self-efficacy and collective self-efficacy are important for teacher and student outcomes, and some intervention programs for teachers in trainings, career teachers, and upon school factors show promising results, there is still a lack of longitudinal and experimental research on the independent effect of each of the four sources on teacher self-efficacy.