Preparation and Certification Standards for Trade and Industrial Education Teachers: Background and Context
Rodney L. Custer
University of Missouri-Columbia
Significant efforts and events are best understood in context. The perspective of history, an understanding of sequences of events, a knowledge of personalities, and a sense of guiding principles and values are essential if current events and initiatives are to be appreciated and appropriately understood. Such is the case with the Quality Standards for Trade and Industrial (T&I) Education that are presented and discussed in this Special Feature Issue of the Journal.
In the most restricted sense, the context for the Standards dates back three years to a series of presentations and discussions that occurred in Nashville, Tennessee, during NAITTE's opening general session at the 1993 Annual Meeting. As important as that event was, the context is much broader. To be properly understood, the T&I Quality Standards must be viewed against a rich context of current initiatives and historical events.
An important component of that context is the current thrust to reform education. A key element in this process of reform has been the approach of developing standards. Among the significant efforts in this direction include the mathematics standards developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1989) and the science standards developed by the National Research Council (1996). Standards have been developed for other disciplines as well, including the current work of the Technology for All Americans project, which is developing standards for Technology Education. The focus provided by the SCANS report, the Tech Prep and School-to-Careers initiatives, and the National Standards movement has coalesced toward similar goals. Taken collectively, these efforts seek to emphasize clearly defined and high expectations for all students in contexts designed to embed academic learning within real-world situations. Thus, the move to develop standards for T&I teacher education has occurred within the broader context of standards-based educational reform.
Another major part of the context is comprised of a set of events, initiatives, and conversations dating back at least to the 1917 Smith-Hughes Act, in which many of the central tenants of trade and industrial education were first established. The emphasis on workplace competence and experience persists to this day and continues to inform the process of selecting and preparing T&I teachers.
Twenty years after Smith-Hughes (in 1937), NAITTE was founded with a mission broadly cast to embrace both general and vocational industrial teacher education. This mission emphasizes the development of excellence by
stimulating and promoting positive change by (a) providing opportunities for professional improvement, (b) promoting cooperation among related client groups in the field, and (c) serving as an authority and advocate in the preparation of professionals in industrial and technical teacher education and industrial and military trainer training. (Walker, 1994)
Broad support for this mission persists across the NAITTE membership (Miller, 1993) and the mission provides an important contextual component for the T&I standards. Another essential contextual element in NAITTE's life and work has been the Journal of Industrial Teacher Education. Since 1963, JITE has published over 1,000 scholarly articles that collectively represent a refinement and extension of NAITTE's mission. NAITTE has also had its difficult times. In recent years, the number of industrial teacher educators has declined, which in turn led to corresponding decreases in NAITTE membership as well as significant financial constraints. These challenges within the organization prompted a series of introspective analyses including a formal needs analysis conducted by Patrick Miller (1993) accompanied by responses by Walker (1993) and Evans (1993).
Retrospectively, as so often occurs during periods of difficulty, these challenges yielded numerous positive effects within the organization. The NAITTE leadership mobilized to coalesce a vision and direction for the 21st century. The 1993 NAITTE general session in Nashville played an important and positive role in this "forward-reaching" process by triggering several significant initiatives. Among these was a Special Feature issue of JITE (Volume 31, number 4) which was designed to provide a positive focus for the organization's renewal process. Specifically, the intent of that issue was to facilitate a process of identifying salient issues facing industrial teacher education within the broader mission of NAITTE.
One of the direct outcomes of this examination and goal-setting process was the identification of a need to establish standards for T&I teacher education preparation and certification. In 1994, the NAITTE board established a committee, chaired by Nevin R. Frantz, Jr., to develop such standards. Over the past two years, as the result of numerous formal presentations and extensive effort by the development committee, standards have been developed and refined. At the 1995 NAITTE business meeting in Denver, Colorado, the members voted the unanimous approval and adoption of the Standards of Quality for the Preparation and Certification of Trade and Industrial (T&I) Education Teachers. The purpose of this Special Theme issue is to formally present the results of this exemplary developmental effort. The articles that follow contain a presentation of the quality standards as well as a broader perspective on standards, a documentation of the development process, and a structure and rationale.
We owe a special debt of gratitude to the standards development committee for their hard work on behalf of NAITTE and the profession. These individuals include: Nevin R. Frantz, Jr., James A. Gregson, Joan E. Friedenberg, Richard A. Walter, and Aaron J. Miller. A very special thank you is accorded to Nevin Frantz, Tom Walker, and Jim Gregson who served as Guest Editors for this issue of the Journal. Collectively they contributed many hours of insightful and thoughtful work toward crafting various documents and conference presentations into a coherent and comprehensive presentation of the quality standards. We are also indebted to Gary R. Galluzzo, Dean of the College of Education at the University of Northern Colorado, for presenting a context for the Quality Standards. A special thank you is directed to Jerome Moss, Jr. and Richard L. Lynch for their insightful reactions to and comments on this theme issue. Their thinking serves to place and interpret the Standards within the larger context of educational reform. All of these individuals are consummate professionals and NAITTE thanks them for their efforts on our behalf.
Custer is Assistant Professor of Technology & Industry Education, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (1989). Curriculum and evaluation standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc.
National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
U. S. Department of Labor. (1991). What work requires of schools: A SCANS report for America 2000. Washington, DC: Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills.