The expansion of the national teacher preparation center in four states was made possible by funding from several external contributors.
The University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation National Center (US PREP) was launched in December 2015 with the intention of creating partnerships that would focus on teacher preparation and student success. The center, part of Texas Tech University's College of Education, started with just six partnerships in a handful of states and has grown over the years to include partners from coast to coast.
Now, US PREP is expanding again, with the addition of a third cohort of nine university-school partners. The addition brings the total number of partnerships to 21, including higher education institutions and school districts in Texas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York and Oregon. The center also has ramped up its virtual training and resources – already a part of what it provides to institutions and teacher candidates – to help partners navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shift to virtual learning for teacher candidates and the students they will eventually lead in their own classrooms.
"The work hasn't changed," said Sarah Beal, US PREP executive director. "We remain true to our goals and outcomes of teacher preparation while bringing on new universities to help them transform their teacher prep programs."
The new partnerships in Cohort III include:
- California State University San Marcos in San Marcos, California, partnered with San Marcos Unified School District
- McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, partnered with Calcasieu Parish Public Schools
- Portland State University, in Portland, Oregon, partnered with Portland Public Schools and David Douglas School District
- Tarleton State University, in Stephenville, partnered with Stephenville Independent School District (ISD) and Granbury ISD
- Texas A&M University-Commerce, partnered with Mesquite ISD
- Texas State University, in San Marcos, Texas, partnered with Hays ISD, Lockhart ISD and San Marcos ISD
- Touro University California, in Vallejo, California, partnered with Vallejo City Unified School District
- University of Houston-Downtown, partnered with Houston ISD
- University of Texas-Permian Basin, in Odessa, partnered with Ector ISD and Midland ISD
"We are deeply committed to ensuring all our teacher candidates can produce positive academic and social outcomes for youth," said Marvin Lynn, dean of the College of Education at Portland State University. "Working with US PREP will enable our faculty to receive resources and support to systematically inquire into their own practices while learning from and with other faculty from across the country who also are engaged in systematic inquiry."
Before being added to the cohort, new institutions are vetted by US PREP during a rigorous three-month interview and selection process that includes the submission of an application and baseline performance data, faculty and leader interviews and discussions with teacher educators, administrators and all key leaders within the partnership.
"Our provider institutions are committed to disrupting inequities in PK-12 districts by renewing their own teacher preparation programs," Beal said. "Each coalition commits to piloting, scaling and sustaining a transformed model of teacher preparation. School partnerships are at the center of the work, which entails rethinking our staffing models to ensure our faculty and school partners both have a seat at the table."
US PREP has served more than 5,000 teacher candidates per year, with transformation of teacher preparation programs at most institutions typically taking 3-4 years. Educators who complete the training program are prepared to work in diverse classrooms and have an 88% three-year retention rate.
"Teacher candidates are leaving the program with readiness and are fully equipped to work with students, especially students who have been historically underserved," Beal said. "They are leaving with a high level of self-efficacy and confidence, and they've demonstrated proficiency and competency to be able to teach well. As a result, they are able to hit the ground running, and they do not look like first-year teachers. They look like second or third-year teachers. Those students are getting a fully prepared teacher who is able to positively impact student learning on day one."
The Cohort III expansion was made possible by recent funding from several sources, including the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, the Powell Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. To date, US PREP has received more than $26 million in external funding.