Although Colorado has made tremendous strides in supporting great teaching and improving outcomes for kids, many state policies governing who trains teachers and how they do so have remained largely unchanged and driven by a series of inputs. Existing policies are viewed by some as overly prescriptive for preparers and candidates alike. These policies have not been shown to improve the effectiveness of new teachers entering the profession. Current policies create barriers to entry for some candidates and limit preparers’ abilities to explore innovations in preparation practices. Onerous requirements can limit the types of people who are interested or able to become teachers or preparers of teachers.
Leaders in education and government in Colorado have expressed an interest in bringing together experts and key stakeholders around these ideas to explore new and innovative models or partnerships for educator preparation at all levels, from Early Childhood Education (ECE) through K-12, and the partnerships between preparers and districts to support the continuum of learning during formal teacher preparation and the first years of teachers’ careers. Led by Keystone Policy Center, the Colorado Educator Preparation Innovation Coalition (CO-EduPIC) is a collaborative effort that brings together stakeholders involved with the training, employment and support of new teachers together with educators, experts in the field, government leaders and business leaders to explore ways in which the teacher pipeline could be expanded and improved with attention to specific areas of need including ECE, STEM, diversity of the workforce and the differing needs of urban, suburban and rural schools.
The ultimate goal of the Coalition is to develop proposals for an alternative system governing the authorization and operation of educator preparation programs. Such a system would not replace existing processes, rules, or regulations but rather would create a new “innovation zone” and framework within which preparers could operate.
This multi-phase effort consists of Phase 1, a one-year dialogue with monthly meetings during which Coalition members will focus on:
- Identification of barriers to innovation;
- Best practices in educator prep/promising innovations and new teacher supports; and,
- Development of an accountability framework, a recommended framework of measures, policies and systems for educator preparation program accountability for programs granted autonomies as part of an Educator Preparation Innovation Zone.
To augment the work of Coalition members, the effort will engage additional external voices through:
- Focus groups with teachers and principals;
- An advisory circle including members of the business community who can advise on best practices for recruitment and retention in the private sector; and,
- Additional members of the education community who will participate in working groups focused on ECE, new teacher supports, best practices, and accountability.
Phase 2 of the initiative will focus on piloting recommendations. Partners recruited through the Co-EduPIC will be given needed autonomies for piloting innovations in educator preparation in exchange for being held to the accountability framework agreed to by the EduPIC. Should exemptions be needed to obtain flexibility for pilot partners, EduPIC will support members obtaining the necessary waivers.
Click here to read the Coalition’s January 2017 report and recommendations.