The funding will allow for the expansion of the College of Education’s US PREP to include a total of 16 school-university partners throughout the U.S.
Texas Tech University recently received $9.1 million in grant funding to expand a center housed in the College of Education that transforms teacher-preparation programs around the country.
The funds will help double the size and expand the reach of the University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation National Center (US PREP), which collaborates with universities and school systems to help strengthen teacher talent pipelines and prepare educators for diverse classrooms.
The coalition will prepare more than 5,000 teacher candidates each year using innovative training methods developed and used at Texas Tech. Its work is concentrated in the Southern and Midwestern United States, but now is poised to spread to the east and west coasts.
"The fact that Texas Tech's model of teacher preparation is being successfully used as a template in other states is very exciting, and we're pleased to see it spread even farther," said US PREP Executive Director Sarah Beal.
US PREP was launched in 2015 and has since grown to include eight university-school partners in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.
It now will launch a second cohort of eight university-school partners in Texas, New York and California and improve educator talent pipelines for some of the biggest school districts in the U.S., including the New York City public school system.
"The ultimate goal of the coalition is to positively impact K-12 students by building teacher-candidate competency to meet all students where they are and advance their learning by giving them what they need," Beal said.
Coast to coast
Partners that are part of the expansion include three colleges in New York City: Lehman College and Brooklyn College, which are part of the City University of New York (CUNY), and Touro College.
"Our goal is to prepare qualified and caring teachers to teach our students effectively in New York City, and the Bronx in particular, who mostly come from ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse families with low socio-economic status," said Quian Gaoyin, interim dean of the School of Education at Lehman College. "We are confident that US PREP will help us accomplish this goal."
Two California universities also are joining US PREP: San Diego State University (SDSU) and University of the Pacific. Rounding out the new partners are The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and one other yet-to-be-announced Texas university.
"UTSA aspires to be a nationally recognized teacher preparation program, specifically for the ever-changing student population," said Belinda Flores, associate dean of professional preparation, assessment and accreditation at the College of Education and Human Development at UTSA. "Partnering with US PREP will provide UTSA the guidance needed to achieve our goal of becoming a model for other programs to emulate."
'Incubators of improvement'
The resources offered include coaches who help design, support and grow teacher-training programs. Each university works closely with a nearby school system in a high-need community to produce effective teachers who meet specific school needs.
"US PREP supports each of the providers so they are grounded in authentic university-school partnerships," Beal said. "When universities and K-12 systems work together, they become incubators of improvement and innovation."
US PREP offers guidance and hands-on assistance with designing intensive clinical experiences, which feature a yearlong teaching residency and the use of video technology to capture and review instruction. The center also provides help redesigning teacher-education coursework to focus on competency-based learning, which provides teacher candidates with more practical and relevant skills for the classroom.
The transformation process typically takes 3-4 years. After completion, partners continue to have access to US PREP resources, including a library of proven teacher-prep materials honed through research.
Data has shown that US PREP produces effective educators who are more likely to stay at a school district and become veteran teachers. The three-year retention rate for graduates of the US PREP model is 88 percent, and leaders from partner districts frequently report that graduates are as effective in their first three years as advanced teachers.
"US PREP has served as a catalyst of support and leadership for Jackson State University's teacher preparation program," said Jennifer Young Wallace, accreditation coordinator for the College of Education and Human Development at Jackson State University, one of the first US PREP partners. "The professional development, activities and engagement with US PREP staff and coalition members have catapulted the organization to a more intentional approach to improvement and redesign."
The components of the US PREP model were developed by the former dean of the Texas Tech College of Education, Scott Ridley, who passed away in October from cancer. He pioneered the components and the focus on university-school partnerships at Arizona State University before coming to Texas Tech and similarly redesigning its teacher preparation program.
"This is Scott's legacy," Beal said. "It's a continuation of his efforts to ensure that every child, especially our historically underserved students, have access to high-quality teachers."
The bulk of the funding for the expansion comes from a $7.2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Other contributions are: $900,000 from Raise Your Hand Texas, $500,000 from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, $300,000 from the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation and $200,000 from the Silver Giving Foundation.
The grants push the total amount of external funding received by US PREP to nearly $20 million since the center's creation in November 2015.
"As US PREP grows, the College of Education at Texas Tech University recognizes the tremendous opportunity to engage in partnerships with other universities and school districts," said Robin Lock, acting dean of the College of Education. "Adding new members has strengthened our commitment to investigate and implement quality teacher preparation."