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JULY 2013 EDITION
A recent policy breakfast hosted by the Rennie Center brought together education leaders for constructive dialogue on the interplay between governance and innovation. Attendees and panelists questioned how to increase the local capacity and expertise of educators to implement effective practices. They noted that to truly address the proficiency gap, educator preparation programs should be specifically targeted to those planning to work in urban school environments. One example mentioned was the Match Teacher Residency and their sister institution, the Sposato Graduate School of Education. Through this Boston-based program, candidates seeking a Master in Effective Teaching (MET) degree receive customized training through graduate coursework and real-world classroom experiences, including ongoing support and measurement of their effectiveness into their full-time teaching position. This provides a smooth transition for educators between their pre-service training and induction.
Whatever the source of innovation (be it in a public, private, or charter school setting), it is clear that more must be done to connect preparation programs to schools to ensure that educators are supported in their initial years of teaching. Rennie Center research suggests that partnerships between institutions of higher education and public school districts can accomplish this goal. The University of Chicago's Urban Teacher Education Program with the Chicago Public Schools, for example, provides graduates with extensive supports during their induction, including regular meetings, workshops, coaching, and inquiry groups clustered by grade level and/or subject areas. Other examples of strong partnerships in Massachusetts include the Teach 180 Days in Springfield program (which combines graduate coursework at Umass Amherst with a yearlong teaching assignment in a Springfield public school), and the University Park Campus School in Worcester (which serves as a clinical training site for Clark University’s teacher preparation program with student teachers working alongside master faculty for a full academic year). In recognizing these great programs, we must confront the limitations of our current educator preparation programs on the whole, and recognize the need to better prepare, place, and support our educators.
Educator preparation and evaluation has been at the center of education policy discussions, both in Massachusetts and nationally. Much discussion has focused on the lack of knowledge regarding how specific educator preparation programs (both traditional and alternative) connect to teacher effectiveness and student outcomes. The Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is attempting to change this by holding preparation programs accountable for student outcomes. Its recently approved standards include a value-added measure which will require preparation programs to track graduates into the field to determine their impact on student growth and achievement. In the meantime, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)'s Teacher Prep Review has sparked conversation, and some criticism, on the current state of educator preparation programs. Its findings on Massachusetts educator preparation programs appear limited: only 14 of the 35 institutions identified by NCTQ provided sufficient data for an overall rating.
In the past year, Massachusetts has been active in building knowledge on the state’s educator preparation programs. Following the adoption of the Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval last summer, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) published profiles of Massachusetts’ educator preparation programs on its website. In addition, DESE plans to provide information on program admissions requirements, demographic data on students and faculty, district partnerships, licensure test pass rates, and employment data, among other things. Ultimately, DESE hopes to be able to track educator candidates through their preparation program and into their teaching careers, thus linking educator preparation programs to educator evaluation systems. With this new information from DESE and NCTQ, as well as the new standards from CAEP, we should take the opportunity to consider how best to prepare educators in the Commonwealth.
Opportunities to Learn Science: EdWeek featured two articles (see here and here) on our recent publication, Research Meets Policy: Opportunity to Learn Science?.
Dropout Recovery: The Rennie Center’s recent report, Forgotten Youth: Re-Engaging Students Through Dropout Recovery, was featured in a recent article as part of the Diploma Counts report in EdWeek.
20 year anniversary of Massachusetts Education Reform Act: Executive Director Chad d’Entremont contributed a post on this topic for the MA KIDS COUNT blog, entitled "Leveraging Partnerships to Rethink Education Systems." Rennie Center founder and former education Secretary S. Paul Reville also contributed a commentary to EdWeek "Seize the Moment to Design Schools That Close Gaps," and an opinion piece to the Boston Globe, "Accelerate progress on education."
Boston Mayoral Candidate Forum: A mayoral candidate forum hosted by Stand for Children Leadership Center, moderated by Executive Director Chad d’Entremont, was featured in both the Boston Globe and Wicked Local.
Please note: The Rennie Report will return in September - have a wonderful July 4th and rest of the summer.
For questions about any of the items mentioned in this e-newsletter, please contact Research and Policy Analyst Malka Jampol at 617-354-0002, ext. 15.