Sunday, July 22, 2007

NCATE’s Professional Dispositions: To be determined.

"To Be Determined"

That, literally, is what is written in the new NCATE standards (to go into effect fall 2008) in the glossary for professional dispositions. I just saw this in searching for some other materials.

It used to read (from the 2006 edition):

Dispositions: The values, commitments, and professional ethics that influence
behaviors toward students, families, colleagues, and communities and affect
student learning, motivation, and development as well as the educator’s own
professional growth. Dispositions are guided by beliefs and attitudes related to
values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social

Does anyone out there know how it is going to be determined? By whom? When? And why this highly (to me at least, if I was a part of NCATE) embarrassing phrasing? Embarrassing, of course, because of the ongoing social justice terminology controversy.


James Horn said...

I found this at the NCATE site in the Summary of Action taken Spring 07 (pp. 3-4):

The revision of the definition of professional dispositions: The attitudes, values, and
beliefs demonstrated through both verbal and non-verbal behaviors as educators interact
with students, families, colleagues, and communities. These professional dispositions
support student learning and development. NCATE expects candidates to demonstrate
classroom behaviors that are consistent with ideas of fairness and the belief that all
students can learn. Based on their mission and conceptual framework, professional
education units can determine additional professional dispositions such as caring,
honesty, responsibility, and social justice. NCATE expects institutions to assess
professional dispositions based on observable verbal and non-verbal behaviors in
educational settings.

[NOTE: At its May 11th meeting, he Executive Board ratified the revised standards with a
change in the target levels of Standard 4?s elements on faculty diversity, candidate diversity, and
P-12 student diversity. The Executive Board did not accept the revised definition for professional
dispositions, but created a Task Force to review the definition and report its recommendations to
the Executive Board in October 2007.]

I called NCATE this morning and talked with Patti Garvin, who recommended that I email questions to

I'm sorry but I don't have Donna's last name. If enough get on the stick here, I am convinced this can be put back in--especially since BushCo. is on crutches and their effort to take over higher ed has been blocked by the Senate. Jim

Sherman Dorn said...

I'm probably in a "the sky is not falling" mood this month, but I'm not sure how the phrasing of a single entry in the glossary of a standards document is either dispositive of anything other than public relations or related to the shrinking of social foundations in teacher education curricula.

First, social justice always was an example of something that could be looked at with regard to disposition, where related to the institutional mission. Despite what the rabid critics of NCATE claimed, it was never mandated. Period. Its deletion from the glossary item likewise says nothing about what an institutional mission has to look like. We can be worried about the discourse surrounding teacher education and teaching as an occupation without seeing this particular wording issue as having anything to do with institutional specifics.

Second, at NCATE institutions, the core question with social foundations' place in teacher education is the list of goals for the institution. If they include understanding of humanities and social science perspectives on schooling and education more broadly, then we have a place. If they don't, then it doesn't matter if the mission mentions social justice, because our colleagues will often claim that they can teach about social justice without needing a course in the history of education, sociology of education, anthropology, philosophy, economics, etc.

Dan W. Butin said...


I agree about the need to be careful about a "sky is falling" scenario. At this point, specifically in regards to dispositions, I was simply looking for descriptive information as to how this is playing out within NCATE. Jim found an answer for me. Anyone else out there with other information would be greatly appreciated.