Teachers are essential to supporting student success and developing the workforce of tomorrow. Colorado, however, is facing a severe shortage of teachers. According to the 2016 Legislative Educator Preparation Report, the number of individuals completing teacher training has declined more than 24 percent from 2010 through 2016. This alarming trend will leave Colorado schools — especially those in rural areas — at a severe disadvantage as they work to keep pace with the demands of Colorado’s students and economy. These dire straits, felt across the state and especially in rural districts, have moved policy makers to consider a wide range of short-term solutions.
Keystone Policy Center (Keystone) pulled together experts and key stakeholders in education to explore new and innovative models and 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, the Colorado Educator Preparation Innovation Coalition (COEduPIC) 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 Coalition identified a series of pilot programs in Colorado to gather data to improve teacher preparation models. Our goal is to model and replicate exemplary practices that are scalable in teacher preparation in Colorado. By doing so, every school district will be given the tools to meet the specific needs of their teaching professionals, students, and community.
Colorado Consortium of Residency Educators (CO-CORE)
This pilot is focused on determining the components of Teacher Residencies that serve as quality indicators of teacher effectiveness. CO-CORE is seeking to achieve a model and process for conducting statewide research on educator preparation providers, with a focus on the strengths of the residency model; develop best practices and critical elements of residencies; understand the resource needs to be sustainable; and, explore the processes educator preparation providers might consider in designing new residencies.
Scaling Residency Statewide
Experts from the National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) and the Sustainable Funding Project (SFP) at Bank Street College highlighted a growing body of research that supports the need for “purposeful coordination between teacher preparation programs and the school districts with which they partner, tightly aligned curricula and field experiences, and extensive clinical practice [that] can improve teacher preparedness.” This pilot is centered on meeting those needs. This pilot will develop partnerships in rural and urban sites. The framework is contextualized to district, recruitment and retention needs.
District & University Induction Partnership
The first years of teaching are notoriously difficult. Teacher turnover has reached crisis levels in recent years, with nearly half of its teachers leaving after their third year of service. Research shows that high-quality, sustained induction can limit turnover. High-quality induction has two primary components: in-classroom instructional coaching and peer support networks. This pilot seeks to identify best practices and critical elements of induction; understand the resource needs to be sustainable; and, explore the processes in designing induction programs.
Grow Your Own
It is critical to close the racial, cultural, and ethnic gaps between the student body and teacher workforce. This pilot seeks to establish intentional pathways to prepare for and earn their initial license to teach, within the single school district host schools where teacher preparation bridges seamlessly into a process of induction and support. Additionally, this pilot seeks to identify high potential students and current non-certificated employees to allow them to earn their Initial Teacher Licensure, and ultimately fulfill vacancies within our highest needs schools.
Phase 2 of the initiative is focused on piloting recommendations and expanding COEduPIC’s scope to explore induction and early career support. Partners recruited through the CoEduPIC will be given needed autonomies for piloting innovations in educator preparation in exchange for being held to the accountability framework agreed to by the COEduPIC. Should exemptions be needed to obtain flexibility for pilot partners, COEduPIC will support members obtaining the necessary waivers. While the partners continue learning and sharing findings from the pilots, COEduPIC will invite additional district and school level partners to participate in an induction workgroup. This workgroup will examine research, share experiences and discuss best practices in teacher induction. The work will include an examination of opportunities to improve collaborations between educator preparation providers and employing schools, approaching induction and early career supports as part of an ongoing continuum of development and barriers to innovations or system change.
Click here to read the Coalition’s January 2017 report and recommendations.