Education professor on commission to strengthen teacher preparation

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March 19, 2012

McDaniel professor Francis “Skip” Fennell is among a distinguished group of educators from across the nation tapped by the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Preparation (CAEP) to develop new standards of teacher education.

Fennell will join about 30 other experts on the newly formed Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting who will “transform teacher education by developing rigorous standards that are based on evidence, innovation and clinical practice,” according to commission co-chair Camilla Benbow, dean of education and human development at Vanderbilt University.

Its initial meeting planned for May, the commission will take what Fennell calls a “courageous and appropriate” look at teacher preparation nationwide.

“The commission is a way to say to the country that we are taking the issue of teacher education seriously,” says Fennell, a recent past president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and one of the writers of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, now formally adopted by 47 states. “We are saying, ‘let’s not be afraid to say what the challenges are.’”

Although Fennell cautions that the group has not yet met, he says he would expect hot topics to include preparing teachers to deal with the challenges in classroom management and the diverse needs of the student population as well as emphasizing the content knowledge for teaching – ensuring that teachers know, and know very well, their subject matter.

Professor of Education and the first recipient of The L. Stanley Bowlsbey Chair in Education and Graduate and Professional Studies at McDaniel, Fennell also served on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.

“Children are our future,” he says. “That future 180-plus days a year is driven by classroom teachers. We need to make sure they are well prepared to meet the challenges.”

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