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Changing teacher certification in Massachusetts, 1987: The oral history of key participants

Lorraine Martha Goyette, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In the 1980s, changing teacher certification was associated with the educational reform movement and the attendant drive to professionalize teaching. In Massachusetts, and nationally, political forces outside traditional education organizations and structures initiated and sustained certification changes. The purpose of this study was to reconstruct the motivations and strategies resulting in a new Massachusetts teacher certification framework in 1987, and to explore connections between national trends and this state development. The Joint Task Force on Teacher Preparation (JTTP) issued a report entitled Making Teaching a Major Profession in October 1987. JTTP recommendations included provisions for two stages of certification: provisional and full. Recommendations for provisional certification included a major in the liberal arts or sciences, or an interdisciplinary major, that would replace the undergraduate education degree. Recommendations for permanent certification included a clinical masters degree that incorporated supervision by both education and liberal arts college advisors, as well as mentor teachers in the schools. Thirty-three participants were identified through membership on the JTTP, member recommendations, and suggestions drawn from a literature review. Interviews used a guided conversation structure, were about one hour in length, and were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim by the researcher. A significant portion of the data in this oral history was presented through the participants' own words. Participant accounts describe the personal relationships, political contexts, and professional issues that affected both the process and the product of the JTTP. Where possible, supporting testimony and documentation were used to provide corroboration or additional detail. Systematic and organizational analyses informed the study's findings. Participant decisions were not instructed by research on teacher education. Shifting power relations among educational stakeholders affected both the framework's adoption--and its contents.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Education history|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Goyette, Lorraine Martha, "Changing teacher certification in Massachusetts, 1987: The oral history of key participants" (1994). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9510476.