Arizona State University (ASU) offers the largest teacher education program in the country and it’s making some huge changes when it comes to preparing teachers for the classroom.

In an effort to produce better-qualified teachers, ASU is requiring all education majors to undergo a full-year of training before graduation. The year-long clinical experience incorporates site-based training and requires student teachers to demonstrate mastery in teaching skills before they graduate.

The iTeachAZ program launched last year and has steadily expanded to include additional teacher candidates. The program is expected to be offered to all education majors by the end of 2012.

The availability of funding has allowed the program to grown and improve. According to Mari Koerner, the dean of ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, “iTeachAZ emphasizes a set of skills all teacher-candidates must master and demonstrate during student-teaching.

Each candidate is observed and scored a total of five times by an ASU faculty member trained on a well-known teaching framework. Then, he or she is given feedback via a structured discussion in which each teacher is complimented on a skill successfully mastered, and told of one area that needs strengthening.”

The need for improving teacher training programs is a topic that continues to generate discussion, debate and change.

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Photo Courtesy: Laura Segall for Education Week
Pictured: Aspiring teacher Xochitl Lopez, 28, leads a 3rd grade class at Michael Anderson School in Avondale, Ariz. All Arizona State University undergraduate education majors must undergo a year of student-teaching and demonstrate that they’ve acquired the knowledge and skills to become an effective teacher before they can graduate.