Teacher Training

U Michigan To Develop Teacher Prep Assessment

The University of Michigan's (U-M) TeachingWorks will use a $1.1 million grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust to work on improving teacher preparation.

An organization within U-M's School of Education, TeachingWorks will use the funds "to implement more rigorous uniform standards for aspiring educators and enable schools of education to support students in meeting these higher benchmarks, ensuring they are better prepared for their first year in the classroom and beyond," according to a university news release.

Most states do not currently require teacher candidates to prove they have sufficient knowledge or skills to teach responsibly in their first year, according to information released by the school, leaving them underprepared and less effective than they could be.

Two million new teachers will be required in the next decade, owing in part to current teachers set to retire. "This enormous shift in the workforce creates an unprecedented opportunity to change how new teachers are prepared for classroom practice," according to a U-M press release.

"As states across the country adopt higher standards for students — a movement in which teachers are the most important drivers of change — we must ensure that future educators have the preparation they need to succeed in classrooms from day one," said Rachel Leifer, a program officer of the Helmsley Charitable Trust's Education Program, in a prepared statement. "TeachingWorks' well-designed, comprehensive approach offers a rare opportunity to improve teacher preparation at broad scale."

TeachingWorks will use the funds to work with Educational Testing Service (ETS) to create the National Observable Teaching Examination (NOTE), a new licensure exam that will be designed to assess mastery of key content and practices. The assessment will be piloted in nine states this academic year.

TeachingWorks will also use the grant money to "collaborate with teacher education programs across the country to develop shared approaches to professional training focused on these high-leverage instructional practices," according to information released by U-M. "The grant supports small networks of teacher education programs and K-12 school districts that collectively commit to increasing the number of beginning teachers who can carry out the practices assessed in NOTE. Each network will identify common problems in preparing educators for practice and members will work together to build and try out solutions."

"At TeachingWorks, we are committed to ensuring that all students receive quality instruction and that teachers enter the classroom 'safe to practice' on their very first day," said Deborah Loewenberg Ball, director of TeachingWorks and dean of the U-M School of Education, in a prepared statement. "To achieve this, we need to shift teaching to be like other fields in which you must demonstrate proficiency before practicing."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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