Wichita TQP Grant Yields Lasting Results
As a recipient of federal Teacher Quality Partnership grants over the past 6 years, Wichita State University (WSU) in Kansas has proven the value of investing in innovative educator preparation practices.
The Wichita Teacher Quality Partnership (WTQP) created extensive field-based learning experiences that prepare diverse and highly qualified teachers for urban school settings. Through the application of the professional development school (PDS) model in particular, the initiative fostered partnerships among the Wichita Public Schools (including 26 urban schools), The Opportunity Project (an early learning center), Head Start programs, local community colleges, and the College of Education at WSU.
The grant enabled WSU to develop and implement a master of arts in teaching residency program and to fully implement a PDS model for preparation of all elementary, middle, and secondary teacher candidates.
The initiative also focused on building a more robust pipeline into the teaching workforce to help address national shortages. The institution’s average enrollment in its undergraduate education program over the past 5 years was 216, which is 8% above the original enrollment goal of 200. Many of the graduates have gone straight into the local school system: 272 of the WTQP baccalaureate graduates between 2010 and October 2014 were hired to work in Wichita Public Schools.
“Feedback from districts who hire our graduates tells us our candidates are extremely well prepared to teach children from diverse backgrounds and are making a positive difference in the classroom,” said Shirley Lefever-Davis, dean of the College of Education at WSU.
Sharon Iorio, professor and principal investigator of WTQP, said a 2-year preliminary study showed that teachers prepared through the WSU programs have been more successful in teaching reading and math than a matched comparison group of nonparticipants. In addition to yielding positive results in the classroom, WTQP has proven cost effective for school districts due to the high retention rate of its alumni. Teachers prepared through the initiative showed a retention rate of 88% over the past 3 years—significantly higher than the national standard, especially for high-need urban schools.
“These results indicate that the WSU College of Education is a significant provider of teachers for local school districts and the Kansas workforce,” Iorio said. “There was also an overall 26% increase in WSU’s new teachers from underrepresented groups during the grant period.”
Although the federal grant funding ended in May, WSU and the Wichita Public Schools have committed to continuing the partnership, with ongoing financial and other support from both sides: WSU has incorporated the prebaccalaureate and residency programs in the College of Education’s budget, the schools will continue new-teacher induction, and both parties will support the cooperative work-study program for preservice teachers.
“WSU’s educator preparation programs will remain dynamic and evolve as we implement practices to ensure our candidates’ readiness to respond to the changing nature of classrooms today,” said Lefever-Davis. “The relationships we have built over the years have enabled us to continue to produce high-quality teacher education candidates and grow our impact in tomorrow’s classrooms.”
Extensive information about the partnership is available at http://webs.wichita.edu/?u=tqp.