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Center for University-Accelerated Certification of Teachers wins Boeing grant

The University of Washington College of Education’s Center for University-Accelerated Certification of Teachers (U-ACT) has just received an emphatic vote of confidence in the form of a $90,000 grant from The Boeing Corporation. This award will help the Center to develop a creative zone of innovation in which new pivotal tools for teacher preparation can be incubated outside the traditional laboratories of university teacher education programs and public school practice.

U-ACT recognizes that the next decade will see an expansion of early-entry teaching programs, where novice teachers are quickly placed in the classroom and expected to learn on the job.  With support from Boeing, and by strategically linking experimental work in a variety of promising alternative route programs with an ongoing process of improving supports for novice teachers in all of its teacher preparation programs, U-ACT will be able to provide the needed practical tools and supports to rapidly prepare more effective teachers in these programs.

A significant body of accumulating evidence leaves little doubt that the development of new tools for instruction can be one of the most powerful interventions for changing classroom practice– and that these tools are in fact already beginning to radically alter the landscape of education.

Yet while the promise of new tools is great, so are the challenges. Many promising practices for preparing high quality teachers are being developed through innovative “alternative route” approaches such as Teach for America, the New Teacher Project, Urban Teacher Residency projects and others, but these and other alternative route programs are estimated to collectively produce only about 50,000 to 60,000 new teachers per year—while almost 400,000 new teachers are hired annually in the U.S.  Moreover, less than half of all new teachers perceive themselves to be highly competent to teach their subject matter—no matter what pathway they have taken into the profession.  

These numbers make it clear that developing new tools and resources that can be used in the full range of programs designed to prepare and support novice teachers is crucial to meeting the challenges of scale we face around issues of teacher quality. 

To answer this need, U-ACT is already at work designing –and implementing – a set of web-mediated tools to help accelerate the development of ambitious teaching practice among novice teachers, which the Center anticipates will be of tremendous value not only in U-ACT, but also in other early-entry alternative route programs around the country.  

U-ACT wants to have local impact and national importance: the Center will guide a cadre of highly talented young people who will serve public school children in the Seattle and Puget Sound area, and will at the same time produce innovations in programs design, resources for teacher learning, and tools for classroom instruction that can be utilized to improve the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs around the state and nation.

U-ACT takes several novel approaches to teacher training:

Accelerated Learning: A Practice-based Curriculum for Teacher Preparation

Rather than focus on course- and fieldwork, U-ACT’s curriculum focuses on establishing a set of practices aligned with the tasks of the school year, and offers individual candidates flexibility in the amount of time or type of instruction they need to master these practices.

Tools for Supporting Ambitious Instructional Practice

Web-mediated tools for professional development in the areas of mathematics, science, literacy and instruction of English language learners will allow novice teachers to learn these practices quickly and independently. U-ACT’s collaborative work with TFA has already led to a highly productive collaboration with Edthena (an innovative IT company operated by TFA graduates), and beta-phase testing of an innovative platform to support collaborative online video-analysis of teaching and learning processes. 

Tools for Novice Teacher Assessment

These new assessment tools are embedded in authentic classroom practice, constructed around classroom “artifacts” such as regularly collected samples of student work, and align with the policy work emerging from three important national initiatives: the new Common Core State Standards initiative, the new national Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA), and the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) study.  

 

Values of the Center for University-Accelerated Certification of Teachers (U-ACT)

  • Commitment to historically under-served students, families and communities
  • Commitment to evidence-based, continuous improvement of teaching practice
  • Exploration and exploitation of new technologies for teaching and learning
  • Commitment to providing beginning teachers with the support they need every time they step into the classroom
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