Texas Tech University

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.