2018 Volume 85 Issue 4 Pages 483-492
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the significance of in-service teacher training reforms since 2012 in the state of Lower Saxony, Germany. It is said that the two motifs of this reform are the “regionalization” and “academicization” of in-service teacher training. In-service teacher training is no longer organized by the educational administration, but supplied by competence centers for teachers, located at eight universities and some adult educational facilities in Lower Saxony.
The centers may organize programs of in-service teacher training in their allocated areas on their own recognizance. Through this reform, the possibility of providing in-service teacher training courses better suited to the needs of local schools has been expanded. On the other hand, “academicization,” expected to make good use of the fruits of university research for teacher training, has not made much progress. According to a report from the Board of Accounting Audit of Lower Saxony, the training participation rate has improved as a whole after the reforms. Although the participation rate and composition of in-service teacher training programs vary greatly from center to center, these reforms have been rated sufficiently successful in a legislative document presented by the Ministry of Education of the state of Lower Saxony.
The author visited 6 centers in total and conducted interviews, which made clear that: 1) There are considerable differences among centers with reference to the center director's experience and the organizational position of the center in each university. In some centers the director was previously affiliated with the state's school administration, while in others an experienced professor of educational science serves as director. In others again, the director holds a Ph. D but has no teaching experience. This difference seems to influence the contents of the programs offered by the various centers. 2) Adult educational institutions seem to have superior planning ability for in-service training programs. These two elements seem to be the concrete reasons for major differences of performance among centers.
This paper discusses these reforms in Lower Saxony on the theoretical model of in-service teacher training, which consists of two axes: the license upgrade or renewal system through in-service training, and the main suppliers of in-service teacher training. In the USA and Australia, for instance, teachers can/must upgrade their licenses by taking in-service training courses at universities. In Japan and Germany, there is no license upgrade system and in-service training is mainly supplied by school administration. The reforms of Lower Saxony can be evaluated as a project which aims at activation of in-service training without the introduction of systematic incentives, as with the license upgrade system, but by means of decentralization and collaboration with adult education facilities.