Worldwide Trends Show Other
Countries Pushing Ahead in Pre-Service Education
The Ontario College of
Teachers has been collecting information from around
the world as it prepares to accredit pre-service
teacher education programs.
Admission and training
expectations for pre-service teachers vary widely
around the world, and Ontarios initial teacher
certification requirements lie just about in the
middle of the range. Thats what the College
discovered during its recent collection of data on
how teachers from around the world prepare for their
requirements to enter a teacher education program and
the program outline are both ruled by Ontario
government regulation. These have not been changed
since 1985. Reviewing this regulation in light of
worldwide trends is part of the work of the College
of Teachers Accreditation Committee.
sent questionnaires to organizations, institutions
and government departments in 125 jurisdictions in
English and 75 in French. The results were collated,
organized and circulated back to all those who
replied. They are also available to College members
through the library collection.
is probably the most complete data base in the world
on teacher pre-service education activity.
jurisdictions a degree is still not mandatory for
teaching in elementary schools, especially at the
primary level. However, in most of those places
efforts are being made to require undergraduate
degrees and to encourage practising teachers who have
no degree to upgrade their qualifications.
As well as
requiring an undergraduate degree, many jurisdictions
are being more specific about the content of the
degree and even of secondary school courses.
Elementary teachers who will teach the core
curriculum must have at least secondary school
graduation-level courses in language, science, math
and social studies.
The trend is to
review the pre-service program content in the
elementary core subjects to make sure the teachers
are ready to teach all core areas, not just those
reflected in their undergraduate degrees.
emerging trend appears to be longer pre-service
course times. Although some jurisdictions are moving
to a two-year program based on a university academic
year, others are creating a one-year program that
matches the school year.
more time for both practical classroom experience and
on-campus class time. It also allows for extra time
at the beginning and end of school years in the
schools, either observing or working with an
associate teacher as a contributing member of the
selecting, training and working with associate
schools and teachers is an area in which many
jurisdictions say they need improvement.
jurisdictions have begun working with schools in a
professional development model, in which the
university and the professional development school
work closely together to provide practicum
experiences for a large number of pre-service teacher
virtually opens a branch office in the school and
provides staff, money and equipment to support the
teacher-candidate experience. Much is written about
this practice, but the cost puts it beyond most
teacher training institutions unless they can get
specific funding through a government program.
More common is
a recognition that teacher candidates should have the
opportunity to become part of a school community,
rather than spending a short four weeks in a
classroom with one teacher.
The trend is to
an extended practicum of eight or 10 weeks in one
school, working with several associate teachers and
getting involved in extra-curricular activities,
staff meetings and other events in the life of a
of education are moving toward placing a number of
teacher candidates in the same school at the same
time and building a team of associate teachers to
work with them. This broadens the experience for the
teacher candidate and provides exposure to a variety
of instructional and classroom management styles.
each faculty of education is responsible for
designing a pre-service program in line with the
requirements outlined in the regulation. As there has
been no external review of these programs since 1985
the last year the Ministry of Education and
did program reviews there are great
differences among them.
Over time, each
has modified its programs to meet the needs of its
teacher candidates and address changes in education.
The activities at each faculty are known within the
faculty itself, but are not well-known beyond the
university. Part of the job of the College
Accreditation Committee is to determine ways to
review pre-service programs against criteria that
reflect the developing standards of practice and
needs of the profession.
accreditation process, which begins this year,
involves the review of information provided by the
faculty and a follow-up on-campus visit by an
accreditation panel. This is a new procedure for
undergraduate teacher education programs in Ontario,
but is common at the graduate level, where reviews of
programs occur every seven years.
As the College
moves into the accreditation of pre-service teacher
education programs, panel members will have a chance
to explore the variety being offered by each faculty,
including programs provided in off-campus locations
or in partnership with other universities and
the panel collects will expand the data base and
improve understanding of the nature and variety of
the programs being offered across the province.
Over the next
three years, accreditation panels will visit each
faculty of education in Ontario and provide a report
to the university and to the public on the accredited
status of the programs of teacher pre-service
education. The process is being piloted this year at
three faculties Queens, Laurentians French-language
program and Nipissing. Next year, three other
faculties will enter the cycle, with the final four
being reviewed in 2000.
Based on this
experience, the Accreditation Committee will develop
recommendations for amending the regulation and
establishing pre-service teacher education program
requirements that support the standards of practice
for the teaching profession. This review will provide
some degree of consistency for teacher candidates and
also allow faculties to maintain their unique
Janice Thomson manages the
Accreditation Unit of the Colleges Professional
Affairs Department. To learn more about the
Accreditation and Standards of Practice and Education
committees and contribute to their work, visit the
department's home page.