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Woodrow Wilson, MIT Partner on Competency-Based Educator Preparation

A new partnership between the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) launched last week to “transform policy and practice” in educator preparation. Announced June 16, the new Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning will be a graduate school of education based at MIT that conducts research and offers competency-based master’s programs in teaching and school leadership.

Foundation President Arthur Levine, former president of Teachers College at Columbia University (NY), touted the academy’s plan to “throw out the clock”—focusing on its students’ mastery of competencies rather than on credit hours—and to produce open-source course modules for ease of replication nationwide.

The new MIT PK12 Initiative in the university’s Office of Digital Learning will lead the research on the academy’s programs, which will be disseminated widely to promote best practices among policy makers and practitioners alike. The work plan for this initiative also includes developing new curricula and technologies related to educator preparation, particularly to support math and science teachers.

Those are also the teachers the academy will prepare—in secondary math and the sciences—with the first pilot cohort enrolling in fall 2017. The program aims to expand thereafter to cover additional licensure areas as well as principal preparation.

To date, funding for the new academy comes from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation as well as from the Gates Foundation, Amgen Foundation, Simons Foundation, and Carnegie Corporation of New York, some of which have targeted their support to specific programs. Levine estimates the effort will ultimately need a $30 million investment.

In an interview for National Public Radio’s coverage of the new academy, AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson said the new program is worth following as part of the broad wave of innovation across the field today. Across the country, many other educator preparation providers are designing new clinical models, venturing into unconventional partnerships, testing new technologies, and developing new measures of their outcomes—all in the interest of solving problems of practice.

For more information about the academy, see this fact sheet.

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