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Commission Meeting Sets Stage for National Discussions About Clinical Practice

The AACTE Clinical Practice Commission (CPC) has been working over the last 6 months to examine the state of clinical practice in educator preparation. With a charge to develop a white paper that provides a common understanding of effective approaches to field experiences and clinical practice, members of the CPC met for a 2-day working session in Washington, DC, in August.

Members of the commission, who represent institutions of higher education, PK-12 school districts, and professional associations, formed workgroups around the core topics that will provide a foundational structure for the white paper: literature review, foundations of theory, foundations of practice, lexicon, and current context and policy background.

The literature review will describe, summarize, evaluate, and clarify the research base related to clinical preparation, practice, and partnerships. This work, completed before the meeting, focused on several major themes that will be used to inform the work of the commission and to help frame the white paper. These themes include a focus on clinical experiences and practice-based teacher education, core practices and pedagogy, the role of the clinical educator, and empirical research on the implementation of core practices and pedagogy.

Theoretical foundations for the white paper stem from the works of John Goodlad and John Dewey, two of the foremost leaders in support of a democratic public education. In particular, the concept of simultaneous renewal and the work of the National Network for Educational Renewal and the Agenda for Education in a Democracy provide the theoretical underpinnings for the commission. Additionally, the “nine essentials” of professional development schools defined by the National Association of Professional Development Schools help to both inform and frame the work of the commission.

The Foundations of Practice workgroup focused first on elements of clinically rich educator preparation partnerships that are committed to deep collaborations with PK-12 schools over an extended period of time. Here, commissioners emphasize the need for stakeholders to rethink the structures, design features, contexts, knowledge development, practices, and roles that are used to develop candidate professional knowledge and performance in clinically grounded programs.

The lexicon group conducted a survey to identify terminology used to describe school-university partnerships, roles, and experiences in order to better understand the scope and history of terminology related to clinical practice and partnerships. The goal of this part of the white paper is to create a common language for educator preparation programs nationwide.

The Current Context and Policy Background workgroup completed an analysis of current trends in teacher preparation and practices, including the increased attention on teacher quality and accountability. Today’s preparation climate emphasizes a comprehensive system of clinical practice that includes strong, vibrant, and mutually beneficial PK-20 partnerships. Additionally, increased importance is placed on shared responsibility for candidate effectiveness and for how to best meet the diverse needs of children in 21st century classrooms while advancing all students’ learning and achievement.

The commission plans to use the development of this white paper to help direct a national conversation to both advance the teaching profession and renew public education. It is important to develop a shared, common understanding of clinical educator preparation practice to facilitate this conversation.

Once the first draft of the white paper is completed this fall, it will be circulated for input from the field. In order to ensure that a wide audience has the opportunity to give input for the final paper, commissioners will be available to present the draft to interested audiences throughout the country. If you are interested in having the white paper presented at your organization, please contact AACTE Vice President Rodrick Lucero, who chairs the CPC, at rlucero@aacte.org.


Laurie A. Henry is associate dean of clinical preparation and partnerships in the University of Kentucky College of Education. Cindy Diehl Yang is director of the Center for Educational Transformation at the University of Northern Iowa.


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Laurie A. Henry

University of Kentucky College of Education

Cindy Diehl Yang

University of Northern Iowa

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