Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education
Achievement of Students
Teacher and Faculty Preparation and Professional Development
If the State of California is to fulfill its obligation to provide a high-quality education that enables students to prepare for entrance to and success in any public education institution, and successful transition to work, then more than simply placing a credentialed instructor in front of students will be required. Postsecondary faculty and PreK-12 leaders must agree on the content knowledge and specific competencies required of teachers and faculty at the junctures of critical student transitions in the educational continuum. We have affirmed our commitment to guarantee Californians access to qualified teachers and faculty as one of the essential components of a quality education. It must also be ensured that preparation of teachers includes developing an awareness of, and sensitivity to, the diversity of Californians, their varied learning styles, effective use of new and emerging technology, integrated approaches to instructional delivery, diagnostic and disability assessment, and other factors, such as expanded community partnerships to ensure achievement for all students. The following actions should be taken to ensure all teachers and faculty have the preparation and skills necessary to promote both access and success for all learners, including adult learners.
The State should support preparation of new teachers and ongoing professional development for all existing staff in technology applications, to ensure they have the skills to help students develop the technology skills and knowledge needed for lifelong achievement and success.
Evidence has shown that when students are actively engaged in self-driven learning projects, they learn more and remember it longer. Organizing and supervising such projects has become increasingly challenging, if not impossible, for teachers at all levels, as they struggle to manage large classes. Effective use of instructional technology can enhance the learning experience for some students and contribute to teacher efforts to transform the learning environment so that it is more student-centered, problem- and project-centered, collaborative, communicative, customized, and productive. It provides a tool that can enable teachers and faculty to support such activities far more efficiently than has been possible in the past. Software now allows students to change the parameters of an experiment in a virtual way - substantially enhancing an otherwise abstract and relatively impersonal class. Strategic use of technology simply can make learning far more interesting, even exciting, than what many students have encountered in their educational experience.
For the advantages of technology to be realized for all students, it will be necessary to ensure that all students have ready access to computers, software, and the Internet, regardless of the school, college, or university in which they happen to be enrolled. The Commission on Technology in Learning is developing a plan that will include specific recommendations for providing students and teachers access to technology. That plan should serve as a foundation for the recommendations contained in this Master Plan. It will also be necessary to consistently communicate the basic assumption that all students (and teachers) are capable of learning to use technology effectively, and that teachers are capable of developing a common language to communicate to each student that it is possible to get beyond any bar that has been set before him/her. An additional advantage of technology is that it is non-judgmental; it does not communicate lowered expectations if a student fails to give a correct answer. It simply says, 'go back, you made a mistake,' and often encourages students to be even more focused the next time. This feature provides students with a built-in way to assess their own progress rather than being completely dependent on feedback from teachers - an effective way to engage them actively in their own learning. Technology can also provide significant benefits for special needs students, including those with physical and learning disabilities, those who are low-achieving, and those who are gifted.
It will not be enough to ensure that technology is available to students in schools throughout the state. Teachers must also have access to and be proficient in the use of the technology that is available to their students. The potential that technology holds for improving instruction, assessment, and learning cannot be realized if instructors do not know the range of available resources, how to use the technology to its fullest, or how to integrate it into the classroom to support teaching and learning. The benefits that teachers can realize by incorporating technology training in their professional development include:
- improved ability to meet student education expectations;
- improved professionalism;
- improved instructional practices;
- increased communication and collaboration; and
- improved efficiency and constructive time spent on administrative tasks.