TeachingWorks receives $6.8M grant to establish Teacher Preparation Transformation Center

November 18, 2015

An illustration of education tools in maize and blue. University of Michigan project will be one of five national centers funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

ANN ARBOR—TeachingWorks, a national organization based at the University of Michigan School of Education dedicated to improving professional preparation for teaching, has received a $6.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish a Teacher Preparation Transformation Center.

The Teacher Preparation Transformation Center Initiative (TPTCI), developed by the Gates Foundation, is designed to create a diverse national network of teacher education providers that will build—both independently and collectively—effective pathways for the preparation of beginning teachers.

The other centers in the TPTCI are: University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation National Center, based at Texas Tech University; Teacher2, led by the Relay Graduate School of Education in New York City; National Center for Teacher Residencies Transformation Center in Chicago; and Elevate Preparation, Impact Children, led by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Through this initiative, TeachingWorks will offer direct professional support—including workshops, modeling and coaching—to staff members in the other national centers and, as needed, to teacher educators in each center’s provider network. This work will focus on strengthening teachers’ preparation by engaging in continuous improvement, supporting the effectiveness of teacher educators, and coordinating professional preparation with school systems and the communities they serve.

TeachingWorks will also lead the development and implementation of formative and exit assessments that will provide practice-based assessments of novice teachers’ capability, ensuring that beginning teachers are safe to practice before taking independent responsibility for a classroom of students. Finally, TeachingWorks will collaborate closely with the other centers in disseminating their own learning, helping to develop and package products that come from the centers’ work, and creating a digital resource center that will catalogue, house and make these products accessible to others.

“The Teacher Preparation Transformation Center Initiative is an exceptional opportunity to expand our knowledge in the field of teacher preparation and development, and to contribute to an unprecedented collective effort to improve the quality of beginning teaching in the U.S.,” said Deborah Loewenberg Ball, director of TeachingWorks and dean of the U-M School of Education.

“It will take a wide variety of partners and teacher preparation programs serving diverse communities and students to ensure that all new teachers are well prepared, and that all students receive excellent instruction. The TPTCI is providing a groundbreaking opportunity to prepare tomorrow’s teachers for skillful and responsible practice, and we look forward to the important work ahead.”

TeachingWorks, established at U-M in 2012, aims to transform teacher preparation in the U.S. by developing consensus around a threshold of practice for entry to teaching. A key component of the TeachingWorks mission is its commitment to the idea that all students deserve great teachers, regardless of race, family income or geography. Although great teachers can be found in every community, children of color and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by underprepared and undersupported teaching.

“This grant from the Gates Foundation will enable TeachingWorks, working in partnership with the other centers, to advance the broad transformation of teacher preparation in the United States and fundamentally improve the quality of beginning teaching in communities across this country,” Ball said.

About TeachingWorks
The mission of TeachingWorks is to ensure that all students have skillful teachers who are committed to and able to support their growth.

TeachingWorks is dedicated to improving teachers’ preparation and to creating a professional threshold for entry to teaching. Nearly 2 million new teachers will be needed in the next decade; preparing them to a new standard can lift teaching and strengthen its impact. Making skillful beginning teaching an expectation for all students is a commitment to equity and a lever for justice in education.

We believe that great teachers aren’t born—they’re taught. We know that people can be taught to teach skillfully, and the evidence shows how powerful good teaching can be in terms of the impact on students’ development and growth.

We want beginning teachers to be ready for the classroom, who are skillful at connecting with and helping their students develop. Our signature is a set of high-leverage instructional practices––for example, being able to explain a key idea in understandable terms, make a classroom environment safe for learning, select and use materials and assignments, diagnose and address students’ confusions, assess young people’s progress, build relationships with them, and communicate effectively with their families. Skillful teaching requires sensitive enactment of these with different content, students and contexts.

To reach our goal we: 1) create and implement new licensure assessments to establish a professional threshold for entry to the classroom based on specific high-leverage instructional practices, knowledge and ethical commitments; and (2) partner with teacher preparation programs across the enterprise to develop common approaches to professional training focused on these high-leverage instructional practices. For more information, visit www.teachingworks.org.