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One of the most difficult challenges facing teacher educators is evaluating the knowledge, skills, and attributes necessary for professional growth and responsibility for teaching. Currently two viewpoints for preparing highly qualified teachers seem to be influencing policy. One view represented by Darling-Hammond’s research (1999), suggests that regulation of teacher education, state licensing, professional accountability, and compensation are important factors for strengthening teacher quality. A second view, offered by Chester Finn from research completed by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation (cited in Berry, Hoke, and Hirsch, 2004), emphasizes less prescriptive paths such as alternative certification practices and aptitude testing to attract more qualified candidates to the profession. What seems to be established is that competent teachers are essential to the learning process. Sanders and Rivers (1998) found that effective teachers directly and positively impact the quality of teaching and, more importantly, student learning in classrooms. As a result, the stakes are high for students; their learning may be directly enhanced or damaged by the quality and effectiveness of their teachers’ practices. [excerpt]

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