(Dec. 6, 2010) – The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) announces the beginning of a comprehensive effort to strengthen and improve the quality of massage therapy education by developing competency standards for teachers across the continuum of entry-level, continuing education and advanced training programs. This shall be known as the National Teacher Education Standards Project, and its goal is to create a culture of teaching excellence.

While educational and testing requirements are commonplace for the licensure of massage therapists, there are few jurisdictions that currently require instructors of massage therapy to have specific training in the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) of teaching. As a result, the majority of teachers in this field have not been trained to teach. Knowing how to give a massage is a different skill set from teaching massage and related subjects.

As an organization comprised of passionate and committed educators, AFMTE has chosen to address this need in a proactive manner – and will provide the leadership and experience necessary to create and implement these standards over the coming years. In this way, the role of AFMTE is consistent with similar projects that independent education organizations have achieved in other professions.

A national survey conducted in November by AFMTE indicated strong support within the educational community for this initiative. 80.4% of respondents agreed that competency-based national teacher training standards are needed, while 6.8% disagreed. (A complete survey report is available from this link, or from the News section of the AFMTE website.) This data is consistent with feedback from educators and industry leaders who attended AFMTE’s inaugural conference this past June, where the lack of teacher education standards and resources was a prime topic of discussion.

The National Teacher Education Standards Project (TESP) will be carried out through a series of five phases: The AFMTE Professional Standards Committee is already working on identification of the core competencies of effective and successful teaching. Once the KSAs are defined, a baseline teacher training curriculum will be created. That will lead to the next phase, which is the identification and development of training resources. To ensure that teachers have achieved the competencies, a certification program will be established. The final step will involve working with national accrediting commissions and state regulatory agencies to incorporate these teacher education standards. Overall, it’s estimated this project will take 5-10 years.

AFMTE has prepared a white paper that gives the background, scope and rationale for this project. It also contains a description of each of the five phases with projected timelines. The document is available from this link, or from the News section of the AFMTE website. As this project progresses, there will be opportunities to review and make comment on proposed standards before they are formally adopted.

According to AFMTE President Pete Whitridge, LMT, “It is an act of self-determination and empowerment for the teachers, administrators, school owners and continuing education providers that comprise this community to join together to work for the greater good. This project will require diligent work, respectful dialogue and a willingness to address the shortcomings of massage education without blame or judgment. Improving the quality of teaching in the massage therapy field will improve the success of students in massage programs and continuing education seminars. This process, by its very nature, will improve the quality of massage therapy delivered to the public. That’s the payoff for this bold endeavor.”

In support of this project, AFMTE will focus on the theme of “Bringing Teaching to the Next Level” for it’s 2011 Annual Conference. This event will be held August 18-20 in Charleston, South Carolina, and will feature workshops and discussion forums about the process of creating and implementing teacher standards. AFMTE looks forward to the input of all who attend this conference, as these voices and perspectives shape the future.

About the Alliance:
The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education is the independent voice, advocate and resource for the community of massage therapy schools and educators. It serves the entire education sector – from entry-level training programs through post-graduate studies. The National Headquarters of the Alliance is located at 1760 Old Meadow Road, Suite 500, McLean, Virginia 22102. The phone number is 703-506-2888, the general office email address is admin@afmte.org, and the website is http://www.afmte.org.