College of Education Wins $7 Million Grant for Teacher Prep Reform

On the eve of mandated education reform, the U.S.PREP National Center will create a coalition of universities and school districts to improve teacher education.

Gates Foundation

The Texas Tech University College of Education received a $7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a national center aimed at reforming teacher preparation programs in the southern United States. It is one of three teacher prep programs and Texas Tech is the only university to receive this grant.

The center, which will allow Texas Tech to partner with other universities and school districts, will be called the U.S.PREP National Center. U.S.PREP is an acronym for University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation.

Dean Scott Ridley, who authored the grant proposal, said the name highlights the importance of collaborating with school districts, which is critical to education reform.

“I believe the historical lack of deep and authentic university-school partnerships has been the cause of some of today’s challenges in American education,” he said. “Now we have the opportunity to demonstrate how alignment can be a solution. We rise or fall together.”

The coalition will include six universities in Texas and neighboring states. After three years it will expand to other universities.



PreK-12 Partner School District


Texas Tech University (lead)

Lubbock ISD


Southern Methodist University

Dallas ISD


University of Houston

Houston ISD

Baton Rouge, LA

Southeastern Louisiana University

Ascension Parish, St. Charles Parish

Jackson, MS

Jackson State University

Jackson Public Schools

Memphis, TN

University of Memphis

Shelby County Schools


Scott Ridley

The grant also speaks to the national attention Texas Tech’s teacher reform has received.

“During his tenure as education dean at Texas Tech, Scott Ridley’s focus on teacher preparation has been a model for universities throughout the country,” Texas Tech President M. Duane Nellis said. “I am pleased with the progress the College of Education has made under his direction and excited for this opportunity from the Gates Foundation.”

Ridley, who pioneered competency-based teacher education reform at Arizona State University before coming to Texas Tech and creating TechTeach, said the partnerships the center facilitates will be instrumental in improving education in the affected schools.


Katie Button

“I have witnessed the transformational power of deep university-school partnerships in my education career,” he said. “Now, as host of the U.S.PREP National Center, Texas Tech has the opportunity to be the first in the nation to demonstrate the power of cross-university collaboration for the scaled transformation of teacher preparation.”

Katie Button, an associate professor in the College of Education, will direct the U.S.PREP National Center along with Sarah Beal, previously a leader of the iTeachAZ program at Arizona State University.

“It is amazing to see the quality of the new teachers Texas Tech has produced for partners such as the Dallas Independent School District,” Button said. “With this opportunity from the Gates Foundation, we will help expand the provision of excellent new teachers to partner districts throughout the country.”
Mandated reform
The U.S. Department of Education passed new accountability standards that go into effect in 2016 and will be widespread by 2017. The standards include evaluating teachers according to a rubric, which will include student test scores, and holding both the teacher and the teacher preparation program accountable for classroom achievement. Most traditional teacher preparation programs do not have competency-based training or rubrics to measure student-teacher performance.

College of Education

The College of Education at Texas Tech University offers a full range of programs, including 9 doctoral degrees, 10 master's degrees, two bachelor's degrees and numerous specializations which can lead to careers in public or private education as teachers, professors, administrators, counselors and diagnosticians.

Programs in the college are housed in three departments.

The Department of Curriculum & Instruction offers advanced degrees that prepare leaders, researchers, and professors with the knowledge, skills, and practical application experience needed to analyze, construct, and evaluate curricula in ways that create optimal learning conditions for all learners. Language and literacy, bilingual education and STEM education are just a few of the specializations offered by C&I.

The Department of Educational Psychology & Leadership consists of a diverse group of academic programs that equip students with a comprehensive knowledge of learning, motivation, development, and educational foundations. The disciplines of counseling and school psychology are housed within the EP&L department as are programs to prepare future college administrators, primary and secondary school and district leaders, as well as practical and academic educational psychologists.

The Department of Teacher Education focuses solely on teacher preparation, ensuring that teacher candidates are ready for the classroom on day one. The Teacher Education Department is home to TechTeach, an innovative teacher preparation program that puts teacher candidates into public school classrooms for a full year and requires that students pass teacher certification tests prior to entering the classroom. Various paths to teaching careers, including fast-track distance programs statewide and alternative certification options, are also housed in this department.

More Stories

Teacher Preparation Becomes Department in College of Education

TechTeach Helps Student Pursue Teaching Certificate

College of Education Pairs Teacher Candidates with Coaching Minor

Innovative TechTeach Program Aims to Better Prepare Teaching Candidates

College of Education Pilots Teacher Preparation Program