« PreviousContinue »
In 1961 the national council studied the academic and the professional preparation of English teachers. Results of this study appeared in the "National Interest and the Teaching of English," distributed to Members of the 87th Congress and included in the proceedings of the Senate Subcommittee on Education. The council has undertaken this year a nationwide survey of the continuing education of teachers of English. Although the final report is still in preparation, the principal part of this statement is based upon facts already revealed by this new survey. The council plans to publish the complete results of the survey later this year and will make the report available to interested Members of Congress.
Copies of a comprehensive questionnaire were sent to a random sampling of 10,000 secondary and 10,000 elementary schools across the country. To the principal of each school NCTE sent three copies of the questionnaire and a covering letter that asked the principal's cooperation in requesting three teachers with different teaching assignments and varying degrees of experience to complete the questionnaire. This present report on the inservice education of secondary school teachers of English summarizes information received during the first 6 weeks. By that time 7,417 completed questionnaires had come from every State of the Union, from teachers in all sizes of schools, from teachers in all secondary grades, from teachers with no experience and teachers with more than 20 years' experience-probably the most comprehensive cross section of secondary teachers of English in any national survey in recent years.
For those seeking to improve the quality of English teaching, both the earlier study into the preparation of teachers and the present survey of their inservice education point up three related problems: The number of English teachers now in service who fail to meet even minimum certification requirements and those who have satisfied such requirements with neither a major nor a minor in English; the number of teachers who have completed English majors in programs which did not offer needed work in language study and composition: and present programs of teacher preparation that continue to recommend for certification teachers who have not had such work.
Efforts to strengthen the preparation of teachers now in service would be a permanent necessity unless changes are made in preservice programs as well. To concentrate energies on preservice programs would be to leave relatively unaffected the 90,000 teachers of English now in secondary schools and the hundreds of thousands of elementary school teachers responsible for instruction in language arts. Although one can discuss them separately, the three problems are bound together.
Fact Sheet No. 12, title III, part B, included in the relevant materials for the Subcommittee on Education, states that 5.5 percent of the total teaching staff of the Nation fails to meet certification requirements. However, 7.5 percent of the teachers of English responding to the recent NCTE survey report that they do not meet full certification requirements. In addition, 16 percent of those who are now fully certified taught 3 or more years before satisfying certification requirements. Of the total group, only 50 percent have a major in English. An additional 17 percent have a major that included some work in English or in related fields such as speech or journalism. Thirty-three percent report no English in their major programs.
Against this background of the preservice preparation of teachers, the nature of their course work since certification becomes significant. The average teacher in this survey has taught approximately 10 years. During that time, he has taken an average of 18 semester hours of work in all fields, or an average of fewer than 2 semester hours per year of teaching. Since most college courses carry three semester hours of credit, a reasonable interpretation is that even on the average teachers do not complete one course per year. But lest averages conceal the range, it should also be noted that over 30 percent have either not taken any work in English since certification, or not any for over 10 years For education courses the figure is 27 percent. On the other hand, nearly half of the teachers have taken one or more such courses in the last 2 years. The implication is that some teachers take such courses regularly, while others never take them.
One might conclude that despite statistical reports and current concern with the quality of education, the reason for spotty or minimal formal study after certification is that many teachers feel well enough prepared by preservice ed cation and experience. But this is clearly not the case. In the teaching of1. composition, for example, 62 percent of the teachers report that they are only
moderately or poorly prepared. In the teaching of reading in secondary schools, only 10 percent felt they were well prepared. Nearly half assessed their preparation for teaching the English language as moderate or poor.
Of the total semester units of work taken since certification, however, only 8 percent has been in language study; 6 percent in advanced or intermediate composition; 15 percent in English methods courses or education courses which might offer some help in the teaching of reading.
In part, the problem is limited availability of courses teachers need most. Although more than 50 percent of the teachers report that a course in intermediate or advanced composition would be of great interest and value, an earlier study shows that such a course is not even offered as an elective in one-third of the Nation's colleges and universities. For English majors preparing to teach, it is required in only 41 percent of the training institutions. Teachers also report both high interest in and need for additional work in modern English grammar, literature for adolescents, the critical analysis of literature, and practical methods in teaching English. In all four areas they find few institutions offering appropriate courses in feasible schedules.
In addition to the limited availability of needed courses, there are other barriers. Of those teachers who say they have taken no summer courses during the past 3 years, only 13 percent give as the reason "adequate preparation.” For 66 percent, financial problems or related family responsibilities prevented such study. If financial assistance were available for participation in summer Lastitutes or other inservice courses, 70 percent report that they would apply for such programs. Only 3 percent of the teachers report receiving assistance from such special programs as the John Hay fellowships, the College Entrance Examination Board 1962 summer institutes, graduate scholarships, or similar grants. And the independent institute program of the College Entrance Examination Board, which accounted for at least two of every three such teachers, could not be supported by private funds for more than the single summer of 1962. Related to the continuing education of teachers is the extent to which school systems require or encourage such study. Fifty-one percent of the respondents state that, apart from attendance at local teachers' institutes, school systems have no inservice requirements for professional growth. Of the districts represented in the survey, 30 percent offer no salary increments for continued education; 76 percent never offer released time during the school year for such study; 60 percent do not offer sabbatical leaves; 73 percent never underwrite tuition costs; 76 percent never make stipends available for summer study.
These statistics are not a criticism of school districts. Many have no money for underwriting such expenses. Probably doing as much as they can, half do frequently grant increments for further education. Fifty-five percent frequently or sometimes arrange for local extension courses. But viewed from the standpoint of the need and the desire for continuing education, it is unfortunate that only 2 percent of teachers work in districts that frequently grant released time for such a purpose; only 6 percent in districts that frequently grant sabbatical leaves; only 10 percent in districts that underwrite part or all tuition costs; only 8 percent in districts that grant stipends for summer study. Suitable course offerings are few and sometimes inaccessible; teachers rarely find support for taking advantage of courses that are offered. The principal assistance for planning and improving English instruction, therefore, must come from local sources: inservice conferences, consultations with specialists in English and English education, discussion with colleagues and reading professional literature. Yet 40 percent of the teachers are in districts which do not hold preschool workshops or institutes of any kind. Of the remaining teachers, only 36 percent have institutes in which more than 50 percent of their time is devoted to English. In 47 percent of the cases, English teachers spend 25 percent or less of the total institute time in direct attention to English.
If these district institutes offer limited attention to the specific needs and interests of English teachers, there is also little help from other local resources. Fifty percent of the teachers never have consultant help from a supervisor trained in English for assistance in planning instruction; 56 percent never have <nch assistance from a college specialist in English; 64 percent never have such istance from a college specialist in English education. Perhaps the one relaining hope, then, is access to professional literature. But only half of the teachers report that a professional library is available. And for some, the libraries are district or county facilities, beyond the range of easy and immediate
No one can deny the need for widespread improvement in the teaching of English. As the recent NCTE study shows, however, machinery for such improvement does not now exist. Teachers in service know that they need more training to fill in gaps in preservice education programs and to gain access to recent scholarship in English. The program of institutes called for under part A of title III will provide such opportunities. Colleges and universities need new courses and patterns of courses to expand offerings in advanced composition, modern English grammar, the teaching of reading, and the critical analysis of literature. The provisions under part B of title III will make these needed changes possible. Those programs authorized under titles D and E would support needed research to assure continued evaluation of programs in preservice and inservice education and would, through demonstration centers and research reports, make new and needed information available to schools and colleges not directly engaged in such projects.
PREPARED STATEMENT BY WARNER G. RICE
In respectfully presenting my views on a few matters relating to the National Education Improvement Act, I speak as a professor who has taught English for 40 years at all levels in college classrooms, and from the experience gained as the chairman of the Department of English at the University of Michigan, as the chairman of the subcommittee on teacher education of the commission on English of the college entrance examination board, and as the chairman of the organizing committee of the Association of Chairmen of College and University Departments of English.
There is wide general agreement that the teaching of English, and more particularly the skills of writing and reading, with their correlative powers of analysis and comprehension, is essential to the national welfare. It is also agreed that considerable improvements need to be made in the methods and standards of such teaching. In my opinion the key to such improvements lies largely in the colleges and universities, where departments of English are discovering afresh their obligations for the training of teachers for service in secondary schools and in institutions of higher learning as well. Until lately there has been some disposition to neglect this function; to assume that no special attention need be given to the professional preparation of teachers beyond the provision of a solid grounding in subject matter. And accordingly departments of English in colleges and universities have concentrated their efforts largely upon the direction of undergraduates toward graduate study, and the disciplining of graduate students in research.
This situation is now changing. Through the TEPS conferences organized under the auspices of the NEA, and through such seminars as that conducted at Allerton House in December 1962, through the persistent efforts of the National Council of Teachers of English and the Modern Language Association, chairmen and principal members of influential departments of English have been made aware of the necessity for greater attention to research in English education, of the need for a larger measure of cooperation with colleges of education, and for a more specialized effort, within their own domains. to improve the preparation of teachers for effective performance in the classroom.
Much remains to be accomplished, however, before institutions of higher learning realize their potential in this endeavor. It is important that planning to this end be extended both on a regional and on a national scale. To insure success, Federal aid must be forthcoming (to supplement other resources) for the organization of conferences and seminars in which the leaders in the field of English education can inform their colleagues, exchange ideas with them, and implement large-scale programs. A good beginning has been made through Project English: but provision for the support of such activities should be increased, and a more liberal policy adopted which will permit the use of funds for such innovations as summer institutes designed for college and university teachers of English.
For it is necessary to bring home, not only to administrators and curriculum directors, but to hundreds of teachers of English in institutions of higher learning, the extent of their responsibilities in the shaping and conduct of teacher training programs. There are far too few now prepared to direct such prograins. and far too few interested in doing so. Until the talents of the teachers of teachers in subject-matter departments in the humanities are fully exploited. the application of the excellent research now being done in the secondary school
feld will be limited, and the proposed institutes and other means for the training of secondary schoolteachers will be only partially effective.
Generous subsidies should, accordingly, be granted, through fellowships and other means, to qualified persons who seek to improve their competence in the training of teachers of English, and who will apply themselves to the task. Some mechanisms for this work have been tested and proved effective-notably the planning institute sponsored by the Commission on English at Ann Arbor in the summer of 1961. This pattern alone, if repeated, would give great encourageLent to other efforts now being made in a number of departments of Englisheg, those which have organized, and are conducting, such programs as those sponsored by the Commission on English and the National Council of Teachers of English.
Stress should be laid upon research, and the application of research, in the area already specified, and in the field of communication skills as taught in Janior colleges and colleges, the more especially because of the predicted increase in enrollments which will necessitate the use of larger and larger numbers of relatively inexperienced college teachers-teaching fellows, teaching assistants, and the like. Attention must be given to the preparation of training films and other aids, and to the organization of special seminars for the development of Lew curricula and improved classroom methods for this group. The magnitude of the problem presented can be gaged by statistics which indicate that from 40 to 50 percent of the class hours offered in college English departments are devoted to the instruction of freshmen.
Meanwhile, other obligations of departments of English must not be neglected. It is not improper to claim that the principal responsibility for the humane element in higher education now lies with departments of English, and these are also deeply committed in programs of general education.
As the size of student populations enlarges, as social conditions change, and as the universe of knowledge expands, a thorough review of current theories and Practices, both in general and in liberal education, will certainly prove necessary, with a consequent need for a reorientation of courses. Here again systematic search is needed; seminars and training programs for college teachers are needed; and here also, as a supplement to institutional resources, aid in the form Federal grants and subsidies is essential.
Finally, it must again be emphasized that the demand for college teachers f English who are qualified by the possession of doctoral degrees will continue in an increasing scale. The average time now required for the completion of their work by those who undertake advanced studies in English is estimated at 3.6 years. This figure is unduly high. In order to recruit appropriate talent for graduate study in English, some prospect of an earlier induction into professional Life must be assured; this means that the Ph. D. must be taken earlier than is now possible, especially for the majority of self-supporting graduate students. A very helpful aid would be the provision of fellowships to persons who have demonstrated their competence-who have passed qualifying examinations, made progress with dissertations, but who, because of their lack of means, have not been able to complete the requirements for the doctorate. A year's uninterrupted work would, in perhaps the majority of cases, permit the achievement of this degree by young men and women who are now laboring at a very slow rate of gress to finish dissertations in absentia. The result would be not only a Considerable access of strength to the profession, but also the encouragement of capable young men and women to enter upon advanced studies, from which they are now deterred by the prospect of an overlong period of preparation for fall professional status.
To summarize, the recommendations proposed are as follows:
(1) Support for conferences, seminars, and other means for focusing the attention of departments of English upon the need for increased attention to the specific problems of the teaching of teachers of English.
(2) Support for institutes and other programs for college and university teachers who wish to apply themselves to the training of teachers, with appropriate subsidies for fellowships.
(3) Support for research, through an extension of Project English, relating to the aims, methods, and objectives of college and university programs in English-including not only the communication arts, but also the fields of general and liberal studies.
(4) Support for competent candidates for doctoral degrees who, having completed the major portion of their work, need fellowships which will enable them to finish dissertations.
Mr. MILLER. I mention only two or three facts that have been brought out by a nationwide survey that the NCTE recently con ducted.
One is that it now takes, and this is in relation to title I, part D, the graduate fellowship program, it now takes a man in English approxi mately 10 year to get a Ph. D. That is from the time he starts his graduate program. This is because there is so little fellowship help in the humanities and in English. That particular part of the educa tion bill certainly, we support.
In a survey of the 90,000 high school teachers of English, it was discovered that only 50 percent have English majors.
Of these 90,000 teachers of English in the secondary schools, 7.5 percent do not meet certification requirements. Those are the minimum requirements in their States. Obviously, money needs to be spent for summer institutes for retraining teachers in English and spent on teacher preparation programs. These are title III A and B of the education bill.
The preparation of teachers of English has declined, as a matter of fact, between 1950 and 1960. In 1960, there were 12 percent fewer graduates prepared to teach English from our Nation's colleges than in 1950. So something has to be done at a time when there has been an explosion in our classrooms and at a time when there is going to be double the enrollment in 1970.
Something has to be done to encourage students to go into the teaching of English and this has to do with parts, with title 3, sections A and B, too, of the education bill.
I think, Senator, that those are some of the highlights in our statement. I trust it will be entered into the record and the facts that have been covered in this recent survey will be taken into account by this subcommittee.
Thank you for letting me appear.
Senator YARBOROUGH. Mr. Miller, the statement will be printed in full. I regret very much this limitation of time. I think had all the witnesses been English teachers, we could have had heard all the statements.
I am going to read this. I have learned some facts in the part I have read. I am going to read all of this before I go to bed tonight. I thank you, and it is rather shocking, this decline in certification of English teachers and decline in preparation for English. As you doubtless know, some have tried to include English in the subjects covered in this National Defense Education Act. We were voted down on the basis that this was not a special thing in the art of defense, like foreign languages, where you needed foreign language to deal with the uncommitted nations. It seems to me if we have weakness in communication, we have lost the first line of defense. cite the example of Winston Churchill, although he had only on machinegun for each quarter of a mile of a beach in England afte Dunkirk, yet, he won that part of the war with heroic words. Eng land undeniably in this area was the better equipped.