Ok. So, obviously, I am not referencing prison or oil pipelines. Those are horrible. I am talking about student teacher pipelines!
“One of the many difficulties with ensuring educational equity in the creation of ‘schools for all’ relates to the preparation of the teachers to meet the challenges of teaching in schools that are increasingly diverse.”
-Florian (2009) as quoted in Equity and social justice in teaching and teacher education by Baljit Kaur, 2012
Effective student teaching partnerships between school districts and educator preparation providers can support the preparation, recruitment and development of teachers in a manner that strengthens student learning and the long-term sustainability of our teaching workforce.
According to evidence from Massachusetts and nationally:
- Student teachers are three times more likely to teach where they complete their practicum, creating a natural pipeline between student teaching placement and district employment.
- Student teachers who complete their practicum in urban settings are more likely to stay in urban schools once employed, combating the higher rates of teacher turnover that persist in these districts.
- Partnerships between districts and educator preparation organizations can result in the development and placement of more effective teachers in the often hard-to-staff roles.
- An effective student teaching placement model can significantly improve the student achievement of classrooms where that student teacher is placed.
So what does this all mean? Simply, if we create partnerships with our colleges and universities, we can create a comprehensive approach to providing high quality educators in our schools.
Dr. Elise Frattura is an expert in the field of social justice in education. Her work is built on the premise that educational services must address, but not be driven by, compliance issues, policies, and/or funding mechanisms. All students, regardless of variability, have a civil right to have access to a high quality education. Frattura argues that districts must address the components of an effective school educational plan with mechanisms to ensure social justice for the students that it serves (Frattura & Capper, 2007). With limited time and funds, a creative approach to developing a partnership can help ensure a pipepline for staff that meet the needs of all learners.
What Can We Do?
We can create partnerships between districts and universities to develop a thoughtful and deliberate student teaching pipeline. Building effective and sustainable student teaching partnerships involves three stages:
- Initiation: Forming the partnership, identifying the pipeline needs, and initial visioning and goal setting
- Implementation: Collaboratively selecting and supporting participants, ensuring alignment between partners, regularly meeting and spending time in partner schools.
- Continuous Improvement: Ongoing program review and refinement.
Below you will find steps to accomplish each stage.
- Form a partnership and define expectations.
- Analyze educator preparation pipeline data and district human capital needs.
- Set an initial vision and goals for the partnership.
- Develop a partnership implementation action plan.
- Jointly select and train Supervising Practitioners and strategically place teacher candidates.
- Align coursework and field-based experiences with district language and priorities.
- Establish systems for ongoing communication and feedback.
- Use evidence to assess progress and outcomes.
- Make adjustments to the partnership in order to improve teacher candidate readiness and PK-12 student outcomes.
- Secure sustainable funding.
Majority of the information in this blog post was drawn from a new toolkit I authored for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and funded by an EPIC grant.
The FREE Partnership Toolkit articulates an evidence-based model for partnership initiation, implementation, and continuous improvement utilized by a recent group of Massachusetts Consortium members, and includes supportive tools and resources developed through their work. The purpose of this Toolkit is to help other district and educator preparation partnerships develop systems for placing and supporting student teachers with the goal of improving student outcomes and building a pipeline from student teaching to employment.