JITE v34n1 - Standards of Quality for the Preparation and Certification of Trade and Industrial (T&I) Education Teachers

Volume 34, Number 1
Fall 1996

Standards of Quality for the Preparation and Certification of Trade and Industrial (T & I) Education Teachers

Nevin R. Frantz, Jr.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
James A.Gregson
Oklahoma State University
Joan E. Friedenberg
Southern Illinois University
Richard A. Walter
Pennsylvania State University
Aaron J. Miller
Ohio State University

The preparation of trade and industrial (T & I) education teachers is accomplished through programs designed to train teachers for their roles as educators in public secondary schools. However, there is a wide range of experience and education among those seeking the qualifications to teach T & I education at the secondary school level. Some individuals are adults with years of occupational experience but little formal postsecondary education. Others are recent high-school or college graduates, with little work experience. Consequently, there is considerable variability in the licensing and certification requirements for T & I teacher preparation across the U.S. Duenk (1990) reports that these requirements are so dissimilar that there is no reciprocity among states.

To attain some level of consistency with regard to T & I education certification requirements, the National Association of Industrial and Technical Teacher Educators (NAITTE) has developed a set of teacher preparation and certification standards. These standards were designed to serve as benchmarks to education policymakers for improving teacher education programs and were intended to be used by state agencies in certifying candidates to teach in T & I programs. As proposed by NAITTE, the standards are intended to serve as principles to direct action rather than as rules for compliance. Within this frame of reference, the standards should be considered as guidelines for making judgments and decisions in a context of shared meanings and values (Diez, Richardson, &Pearson, 1994). The standards should also be viewed to be flexible enough to allow for individual differences in education and experience, while at the same time, providing a universally accepted level of proficiency for T & I teachers.

Standards of Quality

The standards proposed by NAITTE are of two types. The first type deals with the process (or delivery) of T & I teacher education, while the second focuses on curriculum content and instructional aspects of preparation. The process standard frames a continuum of preparation for T & I teachers. It answers the question of how a program of preparation should be designed for this field. The content (or instructional) standards describe what an accomplished T & I teacher should know and be able to do. These standards represent shared beliefs about the core of knowledge that are most essential for prospective teachers. The complete set of standards is presented below.

The Process Standard of Quality

The process standard frames preparation as "professional development,"which continues throughout a teacher's career. This standard acknowledges the diversity of individuals seeking the qualifications to teach T & I subjects and offers a multilevel professional development program (career ladder) for the continued growth and development of the teacher. The program is designed to include three levels of proficiency. Each level enables the teacher to acquire additional education that is recognized by the completion of a formal degree. The program framework provides the technical, professional, and general/liberal arts education experiences needed for an individual to become a competent T & I education teacher.

The Professional Development Standard

The professional development of trade and industrial (T & I) education teachers should be a continuous process culminating with the completion of formal degree programs beginning with an associate degree and finishing with a master's degree in education. The three levels of proficiency on the professional development continuum are as follows:

Associate teacher (Level I).

An associate teacher should (a) have completed a two-year technical associate-degree program (or its equivalent), and (b) have verified work experience or occupational certification through a nationally recognized organization or state licensing agency. The program should provide for the transfer into a baccalaureate-degree program of up to 60 semester hours of general and technical education credit from the associate degree. In cases where technical competence is established by a national occupational competency exam or a state license, credit should be awarded. Upon employment in a local education agency, the associate teacher should receive a nonrenewable, provisional teaching certificate, with a term limit of no more than 7 years. If the baccalaureate degree is not attained before the provisional certificate expires, the teacher should be able to apply for a nonrenewable extension of the provisional teaching certificate (not to exceed 3 years) with the approval of the local education agency and teacher education representative.

Qualified teacher (Level II).

A qualified teacher should have completed a baccalaureate degree from a college or university with a state- and/or nationally-accredited program. The general studies part of the program should comprise approximately 50% of the course requirements, the professional studies portion approximately 20%, and the technical preparation (including occupational work experience) component approximately 30%. The qualified teacher should receive a teaching certificate eligible for renewal every five years based upon completion of a professional and technical improvement plan.

Master Teacher (Level III).

A master teacher should (a) have met each requirement at all levels of certification, and (b) hold a master's degree with five years of successful teaching experience. The master's degree program should provide a minimum of 30 semester hours of advanced professional and technical coursework and the opportunity for the individual to receive credit for (a) foundation/philosophical understanding of vocational education, (b) advanced technical training, and (c) the application of advanced pedagogical knowledge to the improvement of classroom/laboratory instruction. The master teacher should receive permanent T & I education certification, which is reciprocal in every state.

Instructional Standards of Quality

The instructional (content) standards of quality include six broad areas of professional preparation that are offered as core experiences in a program leading to a Level II (or qualified) teacher. The areas are instruction, curriculum, students with special needs, laboratory organization and management, linkages with stakeholder groups, and projection of a positive public status and image. Each standard describes the expected outcome a candidate or qualified teacher should be able to perform after having completed a baccalaureate degree. Each standard is accompanied by a rationale explaining the standard in terms of its significance for T & I teaching. Several indicators of competence are provided to serve as guides for making judgments about candidates for certification and/or the evaluation or accreditation of T & I teacher education programs.

The Instruction Standard

Qualified (Level II).

T & I teachers should be able to help all students become thinking, active worker-citizens by providing them with opportunities to observe, actively encounter and engage in, create, and experience meaningful learning.


The characteristics of a postindustrial society demand that graduates of vocational programs gain the skills necessary to apply higher-order skills and to demonstrate sophisticated technical skills in the workplace. As a result, prospective teachers must attain the skills necessary to employ a wide range of sound instructional methods to engage students in the learning process, to integrate vocational and academic concepts, to coordinate classroom and work-based learning, and to articulate secondary and postsecondary programs.


The T & I teacher education program should be designed to produce graduates who are able to

  1. engage students in the learning process by promoting student-centered approaches such as cooperative and individualized learning;
  2. demonstrate the ability to evaluate, select, design, and use a wide range of educational technology;
  3. design, implement, manipulate and assess learning experiences to promote student gains in the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains;
  4. teach and reinforce important academic concepts by demonstrating their practical applications in the workplace and by coordinating instruction with teachers of academic subjects;
  5. construct learning experiences that integrate classroom instruction with learning at the work site; and
  6. create experiences that motivate students to explore various career paths within a given occupational cluster.

The Curriculum Standard

Qualified (Level II).

T & I teachers should be able to develop a course of study that helps them prepare students for active participation as citizens and workers in a postindustrial society.


For instruction to be meaningful to students, it must be thoughtfully prepared. Consequently, prospective T & I education teachers must acquire and teach the curriculum, as well as reinforce development and instructional planning skills that incorporate both work-related and technical aspects of a given occupational area. Further, they must be able to "contextualize"the curriculum and adapt instructional approaches to meet the needs of a heterogeneous/diverse student population.


The T & I teacher education program should be designed to produce graduates who are able to

  1. make instructional content meaningful to students by relating it to their everyday lives;
  2. incorporate the academic and technical skills needed to be successful in emerging careers as well as current careers within a given occupational area;
  3. prepare students for informed participation in our economic system as producers as well as consumers;
  4. integrate curriculum materials and experiences that help students to master concepts in applied academics, problem-solving, decision-making and other higher-order thinking skills;
  5. plan and prepare a systematically sequenced course of study that includes goals, objectives, daily lesson plans, classroom materials, teaching strategies, safety considerations, and assessment plans (all of which are coordinated and consistent with each other);
  6. develop a curriculum that consistently provides the impetus for discovery, reflection, and self-direction so as to raise student consciousness of the need for lifelong learning, and of the importance of the value of work, a positive attitude, and accepting responsibility;
  7. evaluate multiple approaches to curriculum development; and
  8. promote critical reflection on personal, industrial, and social practices that results in action.

The Special Populations of Students Standard

Qualified (Level II).

T & I teachers should be able to adapt instructional strategies and assessment procedures to accommodate students with special needs, including persons with disabilities, students with academic or economic disadvantages, limited English proficient and other ethnic minority persons, displaced homemakers, incarcerated persons, and other nontraditional students, including gifted and talented individuals.


The population of the United States is multicultural, multilingual, and includes numerous individuals with disabilities, disadvantages, or situations, included being gifted or talented, which necessitate their receiving special assistance to enable them to succeed in the regular classroom. The consequences of failing to serve special populations of students effectively include higher rates of dropout, unemployment and underemployment, higher crime rates, and increased dependence on public assistance. A T & I education teacher who is not prepared to teach students with special needs is not prepared to teach in this country.


The T & I teacher education program should be designed to produce graduates who are able to

  1. recognize T & I students who have special needs, as well as the nature of their needs, based on the known characteristics, problems, and needs of each of the major special population groups;
  2. apply the law appropriately based on legislative history and current legal practice and recognize when laws and policies affecting T & I students with special needs are being broken;
  3. identify effective program components and characteristics for each of the major special needs groups and design effective programs and services for T & I students with special needs;
  4. identify and use appropriately local, state, and national resources, including human resources, that can help educators serve T & I students with special needs;
  5. demonstrate knowledge of the most effective formal diagnostic assessment instruments and the implications of their results for students from each of the major special needs groups; develop and implement appropriate informal assessment procedures, as needed; and plan for T & I program revision based on the results;
  6. adapt instruction to suit individual T & I students with special needs based on the specific needs identified in the assessment process; and
  7. plan and implement an effective school-to-adult life transition process based on the specific requirements of T & I students with special needs.

The Laboratory Organization and Management Standard

Qualified (Level II).

T & I teachers should be able to organize and manage their laboratories to ensure that students are provided with an occupationally relevant, stimulating, and safe learning environment.


Teachers of T & I education typically are responsible for delivering instruction in laboratories that contain a variety of potentially hazardous tools, equipment, and materials. It is essential, therefore, that every T & I education teacher be competent in the organization and management of such laboratories to reflect industry standards, promote student learning, and provide a safe learning environment.


The T & I teacher education program should be designed to produce graduates who are able to

  1. analyze the physical facility and prepare a plan to maximize instructional effectiveness while, at the same time, safeguarding the health and well-being of everyone in the classroom/laboratory;
  2. integrate fire, personal, tool and equipment, and hazardous substances safety instruction throughout the curriculum;
  3. develop, implement, and enforce appropriate safety rules;
  4. repare and manage the annual instructional supplies and equipment budget;
  5. apply the principles of effective management to ensure the safe and efficient storage and distribution of tools, materials, and supplies;
  6. design and use systems to organize student personnel and provide for the maintenance of tools and equipment and the completion of housekeeping tasks not provided through custodial services; and
  7. use appropriate recordkeeping systems to provide verification of the fulfillment of their responsibilities as teachers and as managers of instructional equipment, supplies, and facilities.

The Linkages With Stakeholder Groups Standard

Qualified (Level II).

T & I teachers should be able to establish and maintain working relationships with appropriate stakeholder groups.


T & I education programs cannot be effective unless each teacher is successful in securing the interest and involvement of relevant stakeholder groups. Therefore, T & I education teachers must develop an awareness of these groups and the strategies for developing relationships with them.


The T & I teacher education program should be designed to produce graduates who are able to

  1. identify relevant stakeholder groups; these include students and parents; teachers of academic subjects and general education administrators; guidance personnel; advisory committees;
  2. postsecondary institutions; business, industrial, and union personnel; professional organizations;
  3. special needs personnel; state employment agencies; and local, state, and federal legislators; and
  4. develop and implement strategies for involving representatives of each of the relevant stakeholder groups.

The Projection of a Positive Public Status and Image Standard

Qualified (Level II).

T & I teachers should be able to implement (or should have already implemented) a systematic program that will demonstrate their professional competence and the positive value of their program to their school and community.


Projecting a positive public image for T & I education is more than just public relations. It is the development and maintenance of a public perception that the educational activity in question makes a positive social and economic contribution to the community it serves. Thus, a systematic effort must be made to market the concepts, values, services, and educational products that the program wishes the public to endorse. In order to achieve this objective, the instructional program must be congruent with both the current and projected needs of business and industry. It must also be viewed as vital to the community whose continuing support it solicits. This requires vocational programs with competent teachers, marketable graduates, and a systematic program that has been designed to develop and maintain positive relations with critical support groups.


The T & I teacher education program should be designed to produce graduates who are able to

  1. develop goals and objectives that are congruent with the employment needs of business and industry;
  2. obtain employment for their program graduates in the occupational area for which they have been prepared;
  3. organize and use an effective advisory committee;
  4. obtain some form(s) of business and industry support to supplement the activities of the instructional program;
  5. perform the duties of the positions in business and industry for which students are being prepared;
  6. serve, on occasion, as either paid or unpaid consultants in businesses related to their field of instruction; and
  7. implement a personal, professional development plan that emphasizes lifelong learning.

The Standards of Quality presented in this section represent the recommendations of NAITTE for the preparation and certification of T & I education teachers and should be useful in the improvement of programs for the preparation of such teachers by teacher education institutions. The Standards should also be of value for state departments of education in revising certification standards for T & I teachers, as they represent the best thinking of the profession in preparing well-qualified teachers to prepare students for productive lives as members of the nation's workforce.


Frantz is Professor, Division of Vocational and Technical Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.

Gregson is Assistant Professor, School of Occupational and Adult Education, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK.

Friedenberg is Professor, Department of Linguistics, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL.

Walter is Assistant Director, Vocational-Technical Education Professional Personnel Development Center, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.

Miller is Professor Emeritus, College of Education, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.


Diez, M. E., Richardson, V., &Pearson, P. D. (1994). Setting standards and educating teachers, a national conversation: A report from the Wingspread Conference. Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Duenk, L. G. (1990). The Certification of trade and industrial education teachers in the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Journal of Vocational Education Research, 15(3), 41-63.

Reference Citation: Frantz, Nevin R., Jr., Gregson, James A., Friedenberg, Joan E., Walter, Richard A., &Miller, Aaron J. (1996). Standards of quality for the preparation and certification of trade and industrial (T & I) education teachers. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 34(1), 31-40.

Tracy Gilmore