The role of community colleges in teacher education: The Colorado case study

Paul Bowen Prestwich, University of Pennsylvania


Nearly a quarter of all new K–12 teachers hired in the U.S. do not present evidence of a standard teacher certification, and a similar proportion of all secondary teachers lack a baccalaureate major or minor in their primary teaching field. In part because of this shortage of qualified teachers, the role of community colleges in teacher education is gaining interest among educators, policy makers, and scholars. Using Colorado as a case study, the purpose of this study was to (1) examine the national role of community colleges in the education of prospective K–12 teachers; (2) study the current role of Colorado community colleges in teacher education; and (3) measure the perceived importance and success that education leaders in Colorado attribute to various teacher education activities pursued by Colorado community colleges. Utilizing a single-case design, and employing both quantitative and qualitative research methods, the sources of evidence included focused interviews with individuals who are responsible for directing teacher education activities at each Colorado community college. A second questionnaire surveyed K–12 superintendents, community college leaders, and university leaders regarding their views of the importance and success of teacher education activities at Colorado's community colleges. Additional interviews, documentation and archival records, and participant observation were also utilized as sources of evidence. The major findings show that Colorado community colleges have an active role in teacher education and that all sectors of education leaders in Colorado are supportive of community colleges offering a variety of teacher education activities. Additionally, although transfer articulation agreements were seen as highly important by all categories of respondents, there is a structural disconnect between the state's needs for qualified teachers and the academic programs and articulation agreements in place. A statewide elementary education transfer agreement has been implemented, but work on a statewide agreement for secondary education—where the need for qualified teachers is the greatest—has yet to begin. Such statewide coordination will likely occur only as a result of leadership from the state coordinating board for higher education.

Subject Area

Community colleges|Teacher education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Prestwich, Paul Bowen, "The role of community colleges in teacher education: The Colorado case study" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3152093.