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TeachNY Report Provides Foundation for Statewide Collaboration on Teacher Preparation

The TeachNY Advisory Council, convened last year by the State University of New York (SUNY), published last month a set of recommendations to address the most pressing challenges facing the state’s teacher development pipeline. The dozens of policy recommendations and innovative strategies for teacher recruitment, preparation, and career support are now providing a roadmap for a collaborative campaign between SUNY and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

“If we take our 60 recommendations and the really hot buttons that we’re talking about right now in terms of policy and execution, and we take them to scale across the SUNY system, we will do good for New York,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education. What’s more, Zimpher said, the system hopes to “work with other states and with other policy makers, too, to take what we’re learning across the country.”

SUNY comprises a large system of public universities that educate nearly 25% of the state’s teachers. Its goal is to attract, develop, and retain a sufficiently large, diverse corps of highly qualified and effective teachers committed to continuous improvement and excellence in their profession. A year ago, SUNY organized a panel of state and national thought leaders in educator and leader preparation to form the TeachNY Advisory Council. (AACTE has been represented on the council by Senior Vice President Mark LaCelle-Peterson; numerous AACTE members also participated.)

Designed to enhance SUNY’s policy framework, the Advisory Council’s report includes findings and recommendations in five priority areas:

  • Recruitment, selection, and cultural competence
  • Curricular design, preservice education, simultaneous renewal, and related partnerships
  • Induction, continuing professional development, and teacher leadership
  • Evaluation and assessment
  • Sustainable infrastructure

“TeachNY is a timely and much-needed initiative,” said Michael Rosenberg, dean of the School of Education at SUNY at New Paltz, who also served on the Advisory Council. “The report represents our diverse profession’s best thinking about teacher and leader preparation. What I think makes this initiative different from other similar efforts, and what will give it the necessary traction to achieve much-needed enhancements in our work at continuous improvement, is the authentic partnership between the SUNY system and NYSED.” 

From developing targeted solutions to teacher shortages to bridging gaps between PK-12 and higher education, strengthening clinical practice, and building a more diverse teacher workforce, the TeachNY report provides a comprehensive analysis and proposal for transforming the education profession by addressing policy in a holistic way. Many of the report’s recommendations are applicable across the country, such as its call for educator preparation providers to provide professional development for preservice and in-service teachers in close partnership with school districts. It concludes with a recommendation to establish a TeachNY Center for Educational Innovation, a coordinating structure to more effectively leverage resources and partnerships, promote innovation and excellence, attract external support and funding, and more.

Zimpher’s office summarizes the TeachNY campaign’s goals this way:

  • Promote the power of teaching
  • Cement a clinical practice profession
  • Secure investment in innovative educator preparation
  • Improve transparency about educator supply and demand
  • Support the entire educator preparation pipeline

“TeachNY is a lot more than single document or a set of recommendations,” Zimpher said. “TeachNY is a movement to lift up the teaching profession and to ensure that New York and the nation will have the high quality educators needed for the future.”

The published report marks the end of Phase 1 in the two-part initiative. During the second phase, Zimpher and NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia are conducting a statewide listening tour, creating regional councils, seeking regulatory reforms, and undertaking a range of other efforts to engage educators and begin implementing the report’s recommendations.

“The tangible, collaborative ‘boots on the ground’ advocacy from Chancellor Zimpher and Commissioner Elia reflects both the urgency for and commitment to high-quality teacher preparation, in terms of both innovative practices and the infrastructure supports necessary for reliable implementation,” said Dean Rosenberg. “I look forward to the next phase of the initiative in which we will see wider stakeholder input, a prioritization of the report’s recommendations, and a clear implementation plan tied to resources and budgetary support.”

LaCelle-Peterson said he is optimistic that this effort will succeed, thanks to its scale, fertile setting, and timeliness. “We have the know-how, yet we have failed to bring our best work to scale and to enshrine what we know in policy,” he said. “The roadblock we’re facing is not one of knowledge, not lack of models or talent, not a shortage of precedents, nor certainly lack of will. It is [instead] a matter of the significant policy divide that separates the rules, incentives, practices, expectations, and cultures of P-12 and higher education. [. . .] We need to go to scale, and no system can do that better than SUNY.”

For more information on TeachNY, visit suny.edu/teachny.

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Jerrica Thurman

Director of Marketing & Communications, AACTE