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TQP Grantees Discuss Program Transformation on Radio Show

Faculty from three AACTE-member universities were featured guests in an Education Talk Radio show last month to discuss their experiences as Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grantees. Joining host Larry Jacobs were the following teacher educators:

  • Christina K. O’Connor, Director, Professional Educator Preparation, Policy, and Accountability, and Co-Chair, Collaborative for Educator Preparation, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Regional Director, North Carolina New Teacher Support Program
  • DaShaunda Patterson, Clinical Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology, Special Education, and Communication Disorders, Georgia State University
  • Jennifer Robinson, Director of the Center of Pedagogy, Montclair State University (NJ)

The federal TQP grant program, authorized through Title II of the Higher Education Act, funds partnerships for high-quality teacher preparation in high-need schools and high-need subject areas. The program supports evidence-based practices for effective preparation programs: extensive clinical experiences, preparing all teacher candidates to work with students with disabilities and English language learners, preparing all candidates to teach literacy, and providing induction support in teachers’ early years.

Robinson spoke about the reasons behind the transformation of today’s teacher preparation programs. One reason is that programs have access to increasing troves of data about their work, and they are getting better about putting this evidence to use for improvement. The TQP program offers the opportunity to test innovations, such as use of video recording to enhance candidate coaching, and to continuously renew teacher preparation programs.

Patterson said it is especially important for today’s teachers to be well prepared for work in special education. Such work demands that preparation programs include specialized methods as well as content to ensure that candidates are prepared for the complexities of working in a high-need school and supporting all students’ needs. To help address this need, Georgia State University has implemented professional learning communities with members who have experience across a variety of content areas. Candidates who participate in these communities are given the chance to address real-life issues and prepare to be responsive to particular needs, such as those of children from foster care or whose first language isn’t English.

Jacobs asked how involved the mentor teachers are in partnership schools when working with teacher candidates. O’Connor explained how the residency program supports mentor teachers and how they benefit professionally from the experience. The TQP grant has made it possible to have coaches present in schools to facilitate alignment of the residency with schools’ needs in addition to the methods that candidates learn at the university. Mentor teachers learn from the coaches and their candidates about the latest teaching techniques and practices that were not a part of their own preparation. This helps mentor/coteachers to be more involved as active partners.

Noting that funding for TQP is under attack in Washington, Jacobs asked what the evidence shows about the effectiveness of TQP grant-funded programs. Robinson noted that 100% of the residents who graduate from their programs are hired—many by the same district where they completed their residency. TQP-prepared graduates also enjoy an increased rate of retention after 3 years of teaching: 86% stay on to work in the same school districts. Additionally, principals have noted the exceptional effectiveness of the program graduates. School districts and the community are evidently stabilized by teacher candidates coming out from these preparation programs.

Patterson added to this point and highlighted the financial benefit of teacher residency programs for school districts. A lot of money goes into replacing teachers who leave the field, bringing in new teachers who need to be retrained, reintegrated, and reoriented. Residents tend to be more like advanced beginners than complete novices at the conclusion of their preparation programs, which eases their induction and increases teacher retention, said Patterson. High-quality preparation is an investment that will save money in the long term.

To hear the recording of the November radio show, click here.

Please mark your calendar for the December Education Talk Radio show with AACTE members: Tuesday, December 19, at 10:30 a.m.

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Jemima Cabedo

AACTE Intern