Origins of The Holmes Partnership

        The origins of the Holmes Partnership are in the Holmes Group,  a consortium of  96 research universities with professional education programs, that began a decade ago as a response to three disturbing trends in the immediate Nation at Risk reform climate:

        First, several of  the nation's strongest universities had eliminated, or were eliminating,  their schools of education as a means to strengthen their other, presumably more worthy,  professional schools.

        Second, these same universities, and regrettably many  policy makers, seemed content in the view that the education of teachers was not worth the attention of the nation's best universities and could be safely entrusted to colleges and universities of lesser rank, many of them unaccredited and impoverished.

        Third, apart from some ed schools themselves, absolutely no one else seemed to think that the ed schools had lived up to their responsibilities, or that they had much potential for doing so in the future.

        The issue for the Holmes Group was not the validity of these unfortunate trends and perceptions, but what to do about them to make ed schools matter in the profession. What could ed schools do, politically and academically,  to reverse these trends, trends that unchecked would inevitably undermine any attempt to create a genuine profession of education?

        The members of the Holmes Group saw two general lines of attack on the problem:

  1. strengthening the connections of the ed school to the rest of the university, particularly to the colleges of arts and sciences,
  2. strengthening the links with allies and partners in the profession itself -- teachers,  specialists, administrators, et al., and their representatives.

        The group set out to

In May 1986 the group published Tomorrow's Teachers, which set forth their
vision of good teaching, analyzed the obstacles to attaining it, and
recommended an agenda of actions to address five goals:

  1. Make teaching intellectually sound. 
          Require that prospective teachers gain a broad, coherent liberal arts foundation that incorporates enduring, multicultural values and forms of inquiry, and that is taught to a depth of understanding that enable them so to teach. 
           Require that a prospective teacher earn a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, in an academic subject.  Place that subject in a broad context of knowledge and culture.  Teach that content so that undergraduate students learn to inquire about it on their own and to connect it with related subjects and issues of value. 
           Present the study and practice of teaching in a coherent sequence of courses that integrate research findings about learning and teaching and that demonstrate how to select and shape particular content knowledge into clear, challenging lessons for children and adolescents. 
           Prepare teacher candidates -- through their liberal arts, education studies, and clinical experiences -- to work with culturally and socio-economically diverse students. 
           Give teacher candidates realistic, demanding, well-coached assignments in classrooms.  These should be long enough, complex enough, and varied enough to prepare them to demonstrate success with students who are different from themselves and for whom school learning is difficult. 
    Contrary to common belief, the Group did not prescribe that the start of professional studies must be delayed until graduate school.  In fact, many Holmes members designed new education programs that students enter as sophomores or juniors and continued in postbaccalaureate studies and supervised internships.  Nor did the consortium propose that new teachers must have a master's degree before being recommended for a teaching license. 
    Holmes Group institutions did not commit themselves to a prescribed structure for teacher education but did insist on making professional preparation programs the central mission of the school of education.  This entailed a critical rethinking of the existing content of professional programs.  It meant working with liberal arts professors and with practicing teachers and administrators to devise a program that is academically and professionally solid and integrated.  That combination of academic and field experiences most likely would, just on the arithmetic of it,  take longer than four years. 

  2. Recognize differences in teachers' knowledge, skill, and commitment. 
           Structure internships and induction-year experiences so that beginner teachers receive the assistance and supervision they need. 
           Bring talented and experienced teachers into partnership with the university to tap their expertise and wisdom in helping to teach professional courses, to supervise student and first-year teachers' classroom work, and to participate in research at schools. 
           Prepare experienced teachers for advancement in their careers through leadership roles in the schools where they teach.  For instance, teacher leaders may assist their fellow teachers to reflect on or reorganize or enrich their teaching, to teach in teams or interdisciplinary groups, and to participate in making the school's instructional decisions. 

  3. Create relevant and intellectually defensible standards of entry into teaching. 
           Develop multiple evaluation instruments, measuring diverse kinds of competence, for use at several stages: admittance to teacher education, admittance to student teaching and to internship in a school, and recommendation for a teaching license. 
           Work to prevent testing from discouraging or excluding minority candidates from teaching.  The Group advocated three tacks: 1) Develop more comprehensive measure of proficiency in teaching. 2) Mount extraordinary efforts to identify, prepare for college, and recruit students of color who would make good teachers, and then finance and sustain them throughout their teacher preparation. 3) Mount similar efforts to make faculties of education more representative of minority population. 
           Work for the replacement of standardized tests as licensing exams. These minimalist tests, in use in many states, have little value in predicting the future performance of beginning teachers.  They do not guarantee the public a teacher who can teach, nor do these exams indicate how well a teacher education program prepares teachers. 

  4. Connect schools of education to the schools, and 

  5. Make schools better places for practicing teachers to work and learn. 
           Make partnerships with the teachers and administrators in particular schools.  Develop these as Professional Development Schools -- regular but ambitious public elementary and secondary schools where novice teachers learn to teach and where university and school faculty members together investigate questions of teaching and learning that arise in the school. 
          Revise the professional education of school administrators and other professionals who work in schools so that they can recognize and enhance professionalism in teachers and work in partnership with university faculty to inquire into and invent new methods and structures for their schools.

In 1990, the Holmes Group formulated a set of principles to guide the design of a Professional Development School. These, set forth in the second book, Tomorrow's Schools, were:

        Teaching and learning for understanding.  All the school's students participate seriously in the active, exploratory kind of learning that prepares them to go on learning through a lifetime.

        Creating a learning community.  Such ambitious teaching takes place in a sustained way for large numbers of children when classrooms and schools are organized as productive, caring communities of teachers, students, staff, and parents who work together so that everyone learns.

        Teaching and learning for understanding for everybody's children. In such learning communities teachers can work to overcome the educational and social barriers raised by an unequal society.

        Continuing learning by teachers, teacher educators, and administrators.

        Thoughtful, long-term inquiry into teaching and learning by school and university faculty working as partners.

        Inventing a different kind of organizational structure for the school -- one that can initiate these profound changes and support them over time.

        Tomorrow's Schools of Education, published in 1995, was the group's analysis of the way higher education needs to change if ed schools were to deliver on the promises made in first two books.  The Group concluded that the nation's schools of education need to reform each of their components -- curriculum, faculty, pedagogy, students, instructional settings and groups, research and scholarship, and  partnerships.

        New Curriculum.  In its simplest terms, the new curriculum for professional education needs to be "mapped backwards," so to speak, from the student's intellectual needs to each of the university's degree requirements.  There must be some credible line of reasoning that links each degree requirement in professional education to some need a student has.         New Faculty.  The Holmes Group called for the invention, not just of a new discipline of academic professional education, but of a new kind of faculty member -- a person who is equally at home in the university and public school classroom.  A clinical professor, for want of a better term, is needed, who can show and do what education professors would otherwise be lecturing about in university classes on pedagogy, school psychology, counseling, etc.  Clinical professors of pedagogy, for example, could be developed from two directions, so to speak -- from the university faculty and from the public school faculty. It follows that the clinical faculty would practice what they preached and that criteria would need to be developed by the profession that distinguish mediocre work in schools from work that makes a contribution to the field.

        New Instructional Settings.  The PDS is the new setting and it is designed to serve itself and professional education the way teaching hospitals serve medical education. The PDS is to be the site for as much of  the education of prospective teachers, specialists, counselors, administrators, etc. as could be managed.

        New Instructional Arrangement.  One of the more far reaching of the Holmes Group proposals for restructuring teacher education, apart from the invention of the PDS, is the notion that educators should be educated as they would function.  The view that teachers, counselors, school psychologists, curriculum specialists, and administrators should work in relative isolation of each other is no longer held, if it ever was. Educational scholarship insistently demonstrates the value of a team approach to the school's problems and it would follow that future educators, despite their delineated roles and licenses, should work as members of the same team and be educated with that outcome in mind.

        As much of the professional curriculum as possible should be common to each of the professional roles, and as much of the instructional activity should be in common also in the restructured school of education. The recommendation is based upon more than the efficacy of team-based problem solutions.  It is based also on the fact that each of the professional education roles -- teacher, counselor, administrator, etc. -- is legitimized by its unique hypotheses and suppositions about the underlying causes of a student's  performance.  When the student habitually fails to learn his lessons, for example, each professional specialist offers its own group's explanation.  The special educator sees the student's chronic failure as a matter of an inappropriate curriculum or pedagogy, the counselor sees the problem as a matter of the student's self-esteem or anxiety over non-school issues, the school psychologist often sees the problem in terms of the student's tested ability, the administrator may see the difficulty in terms of the school's organization or student grouping or promotion policies, and so on.  The point is that each specialist, like the blind discovering the elephant, has an explanation of the student's problem that could benefit from the others'
perspectives.  The education of each should be arranged so that, as often as possible, each has the opportunity to validate and confirm the limitations of his or her own guild's perspectives through the intellectual challenge of other educational specialists' interpretations of the same events.

        New Students.  Nearly every reform group has seen the need to expand the composition of the cohort of professional educators to include members of several under-represented groups.  Special efforts are called for, like the Holmes Scholar initiative, to recruit people of color into the ranks of the next generation of the education professorate. Currently, there are stark under-representations in professional education of people of color, men and women in selected teaching fields and roles, and over-representations of low scorers on academic measures of prior accomplishment everywhere in the system.

        New Scholarship.  Research, the mainstay of the university's mission,  is conducted to solve practical and theoretical problems so that knowledge can be more complete and coherent. Until the last two decades, educational scholarship relied heavily upon findings from other disciplines, particularly the behavioral sciences.  The transfer of those findings, collected in non-school settings, to issues of education practice has been generally unsatisfying. Within the last twenty years, however, the powerful qualitative and quantitative methodologies of the social sciences have been turned on classrooms themselves, not just on distant laboratory simulations of instructional settings, with the result that life in classrooms has been studied in such a way that some convincing and counter-intuitive conclusions about schooling are now possible.  Nevertheless, contemporary educational scholarship is largely derivative and on the margins of theories and research tools developed in other disciplines.

        What is needed in our field is inquiry about the particular case in addition to traditional university-based inquiry that seeks more universal explanations and contributions to general theory.  Professionals require research, and research techniques,  about a particular student and his or her understanding of a particular idea, for example.  Holmes seeks research that is directed at local action and the particular child.  It is about matters that apparently are not penetrated easily by traditional experimental designs that employ controls for chance and other seemingly irrelevant factors.

        New Partnerships.  Finally, the members of the Holmes Group, after a decade of making uneven progress in the reform of teacher education, learned that schools of education cannot bring about the changes they seek by themselves.  Initially, they saw that many of the weaknesses in teacher education could be addressed by strengthening the links between the faculty in the school of education and the faculty in the rest of the university.  The reform of the schools of education, however, requires more than that and the invention of the PDS has made it clear that the links to the fields of professional practice need strengthening also.

        The Holmes Group Formed The Holmes Partnership in 1996

        A year after the publication of Tomorrow's Schools of Education in 1995, the Holmes Group  joined with the

         American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE)
        National Education Association (NEA)
         American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
         National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
         American Association of School Administrators  (AASA)
         National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA)
         National Staff  Development Council  (NSCD)

to create a new organization, The Holmes Partnership, to advance a reform
agenda for the education of professionals who work in the schools. In January, 1996, the members of the Holmes Group made the necessary changes in their bylaws to form the new organization, which is dedicated to accomplishing the goals the Holmes Group announced in its three books, Tomorrow's Teachers (1986), Tomorrow's Schools (1990), and Tomorrow's Schools of Education (1995). The members of the Holmes Partnership were to be partnerships of universities and schools and other professional organizations.

        After a decade of work, the Holmes Group commissioned a study, supported by the Ford Foundation, to evaluate its accomplishments and progress toward its goals.  The study group, chaired by Michael Fullan, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, and an authority on organizational change, confirmed the directions the Holmes Group had announced at its annual meeting a year ago. The study group found that the reform of professional education is so complicated and difficult that it has not yielded to any one reform groups efforts to improve it. Thus, the need for a partnership. The links between professional educators simply must be formalized and focussed for the reform work of the last decade to stand a chance of succeeding. The study was published by AACTE in 1997 under the title, The Rise of Stall of Teacher Education Reform.

        The Holmes Partnership, a consortium of research universities, public school districts and  organizations that represent professional educators, has adopted six principal goals:

Goal 1: High Quality Professional Preparation. Provide exemplary professional preparation programs for public school educators. These programs must demonstrate rigor, innovation, and attention to the needs of diverse children and youth. Their design, content, and delivery must reflect research and best practice.

Goal 2: Simultaneous Renewal. Engage in simultaneous renewal of public K-12 schools and the education of beginning and experienced educators by establishing strong partnerships of universities, schools and professional organizations and associations.

Goal 3: Equity, Diversity, and Cultural Competence. Actively work on equity, diversity and cultural competence in the programs of K-12 schools, higher education and the education profession by recruiting, preparing, and sustaining faculty and students who reflect the rich diversity of cultrual perspectives in this country and our global community.

Goal 4: Scholarly Inquiry and Programs of Research. Conduct and disseminate educational research and engage in other scholarly activities that advacne knowledge, improve teaching and learning for all children and youth, inform the preparation and development of educators, and influence educational policy and practive.

Goal 5: Faculty Development. Provide high quality doctoral programs for the future education professoriate and for advanced professional development of school-based educators. Redesign the work of both university and school faculty to enable accomplishments of the The Holmes Partnership goals -- better preparing educators in improving learning for children and youth. Promote conditions that recognize and reward educational professionals who better serve the needs of all learners.

Goal 6: Policy Initiation. Engage in policy analysis and development related to public schools and the preparation of educators. Advocate policies that improve teaching and learning for all students, promote school improvement and enhance the preparation and continuing professional development of all educators.

        The need for partnerships between schools of education and the rest of the university and the educational professions is far more than a device for political advantage, although it is surely that. The core needs of the new school of education for the invention of a new curriculum, scholarship, faculty, instructional site, and so forth also require the intellectual contributions of higher education and the profession.  Only then will teaching take its place as one of the learned professions that merits, like the other learned professions, the unwavering investment of higher education in it.

Holmes Group (1995). Tomorrow's Schools of Education. East Lansing, MI: Holmes Group.
Holmes Group (1990). Tomorrow's Schools. East Lansing, MI: Holmes Group.
Holmes Group (1986). Tomorrow's Teachers. East Lansing, MI: Holmes Group.

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