National Center for Urban Education at the University of the District of Columbia Conceptual Overview

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1 National Center for Urban Education at the University of the District of Columbia Conceptual Overview In far too many universities, education schools are the neglected stepchild. Too often they don't attract the best students or faculty. The programs are heavy on educational theory and light on developing core area knowledge and clinical training under the supervision of master teachers. Generally, not enough attention is paid to what works to boost student learning and student teachers are not trained in how to use data to improve their instruction and drive a cycle of continuous improvement for their students. Many ed schools do relatively little to prepare students for the rigor of teaching in high-poverty and high-need schools. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Mission The National Center for Urban Education at the University of the District of Columbia is dedicated to helping students in urban America achieve their full academic and social potential. As a practiceoriented, research-driven, results-focused graduate institution, the Center works to achieve this mission by: - developing effective teachers and school leaders for urban schools - operating high-quality educational programs in partnership with local public schools - conducting, applying, and disseminating research aimed at improving student achievement Core Principles 1. Helping young people in urban America achieve their full academic and social potential is a national imperative because persistently low-performing urban schools undermine our nation s moral, economic, and political standing in the world. 2. As the only public university in our nation s capital, UDC has a special responsibility to tackle the challenge of improving urban public schools. 3. We believe that all children, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or family background, should have the opportunity to reach their full academic and social potential. 4. To make significant gains in students academic achievement, we must focus on developing excellent teachers and school leaders. 5. We must bring a sense of urgency to our efforts because our nation has tolerated lowperforming urban public schools for too long. Theoretical Framework 1. We believe that students are better able to achieve their full academic and social potential if they have a strong foundation for learning built during their early years. Therefore, the Center makes early childhood education a primary area of emphasis through the Early Childhood Leadership Institute, the Child Development Center, and the Early Childhood Program. 2. We believe that having an effective teacher in the classroom is the single most important schoolbased factor to improving student achievement. Therefore, the Center s primary focus is to prepare strong teachers through the Urban Teacher Academy, the centerpiece of the Center s work. 1

2 3. We believe that prospective teachers learn their craft best when they have the abundant opportunities for extensive practice under the guidance of experienced master teachers. Therefore, our teacher preparation programs, including the Urban Teacher Residency, all emphasize the clinical practice of teaching. 4. We believe that urban teachers at all levels and subjects must be prepared to succeed with dual language learners and students with special needs. Therefore, we incorporate training in dual language learning and special education into all of our master s degree teacher preparation programs, including the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). 5. We believe that student achievement over time and across a school system requires strong, effective school leadership. Therefore, we plan to establish a School Leadership Academy that will include an intensive, fourteen-month principal residency program. 6. We believe that teacher preparation programs are more effective when they are designed and delivered in partnership with local school districts. Therefore, we will work closely with D.C. Public School and D.C. Public Charter Schools to tailor our programs to meet the needs of local schools and ensure that Center graduates meet the evaluation standards to which they will be held accountable. We will establish a School Improvement and Innovation Program to develop partnerships and implement innovative programs designed to improve academic achievement. 7. We believe that the field of urban education is ever-changing and that research is continually needed to advance knowledge, inform public policies, and spur innovation in the field. Therefore, we will establish an Institute for Research, Policy, and Innovation to improve school operations, raise student achievement, and inform education policy. Three Pillars of Successful Schools The Center focuses on building three pillars of successful schools: effective teachers, dynamic leaders, and an engaged, informed community: 1. Successful Teachers: Through master s degree programs, comprehensive professional development institutes, and continuous in-service training and support, the Center helps aspiring and experienced teachers develop the knowledge, skills, and attributes needed to significantly improve student achievement. The Center emphasizes the art, science, and craft of teaching and the importance of educational accountability through a practice-centered, data-driven, standards-based approach to teaching and learning. 2. Effective Leaders: The Center develops and supports school administrators, advocates, and leaders through master s degree and certificate programs, as well as collaborations with local schools and non-profit agencies. 3. Engaged, Informed Community: Through the Center, faculty members conduct, apply, and disseminate research and make policy recommendations aimed at developing effective educational programs, pedagogical practices, and public policies that will raise student achievement levels and improve urban schools. Historical Overview The University of the District of Columbia is the nation s only urban land-grant university and the only public institution of higher education in the nation s capital. Founded in 1976, UDC traces its roots back to Miner Normal School, a school for African American girls founded in 1851 that eventually became 2

3 Miner Teachers College, D.C. s first public college. Consistent with its original purpose, the university remains committed to the development of teachers and education leaders. In response to the national crisis in urban education and the challenges facing the District of Columbia Public Schools, UDC has embarked upon a sweeping effort to revamp its programs in education and to become more practice-oriented, research-driven, and results-focused. The new home for all of UDC s programs in education is the National Center for Urban Education (NCUE), launched in 2010 by President Allen Sessoms. Areas of Focus The Center will tailor its programs to meet the demands of high-poverty, high-need schools throughout the District. In its initial years, Center programs will focus on three critical areas that the school district has identified as key areas of need: a. Linguistic and Cultural Diversity: The demand for high-quality dual language educators has grown dramatically in recent years as more and more children of immigrants enter District schools and increasing numbers of students who are native English speakers seek to become multilingual. Few teacher education programs or alternative certification programs prepare dual language teachers, leaving a widening gap between demand and supply. b. Early Childhood Education and School Readiness: A growing body of research suggests that the key to closing the achievement gap is to offer high-quality early childhood education programs. While many alternative certification programs target middle school and secondary content areas, District schools continue to face serious needs in early childhood education needs that will only increase due to recent Pre-K Expansion and Enhancement Act of 2008 that mandates that all teachers in early childhood programs have a minimum of a bachelor s degree. c. Instructional Support and Interventions for Children with Special Needs: Aspiring teachers often do not receive adequate training in special education, leaving them unable to meet the variety of learning needs in their classrooms. The Center will incorporate special education training into all its teacher preparation, master s degree, and leadership development programs. Signature Programs Urban Teacher Academy (August 2010): The Centerpiece of the Center s teacher education program will be the Urban Teacher Academy, which will offer high-quality programs for both aspiring and inservice teachers. The Academy will consist of three programs, each tailored to different types of teachers: 1. Master s Degree Programs (August 2010): The Center will offer select master s degree programs tailored to meet the needs of in-service educators seeking to enhance their knowledge and skills. The Center will develop new programs in Early Childhood Education, Special Education, Dual language Education, Urban Education, Educational Leadership, and other specialties. All degree programs will be designed to emphasize the practice of teaching and leading in urban schools. 2. Urban Teacher Residency (June 2012): The UTR will be a rigorous, fourteen-month teacher residency program in which a cohort of aspiring teachers and career switchers works closely with Mentor Teachers to develop the knowledge, skills, and attributes necessary to excel at teaching in one of the nation s most challenging school districts. Students will earn a Master s in the Art of Teaching from UDC as well as completing the state teacher certification 3

4 requirements. Program graduates are required to commit to teach for a minimum of three years in D.C. Public or D.C. Public Charter Schools. 3. Professional Development Sequences (June 2012): Working in coordination with D.C. schools, Center faculty will develop and implement professional development programs for in-service educators. Rather than offering one-time workshops of limited value, faculty will create intensive, year-long sequences that are cumulative, coherent, and aligned with the school district s goals. These programs will be held both on campus and in schools. Early Childhood Leadership Institute (August 2010): The Early Childhood Leadership Institute (ECLI) provides workforce development, training, and educational support for early care and education practitioners. The goal of ECLI is to improve the social and academic outcomes of young children by engaging early care and education practitioners in a continuing process of professional and leadership development, career advancement, and pedagogical excellence. The ECLI will include: a. Project Headway b. Directors Credential c. MA in Early Childhood Administration and Leadership d. DC Pre-K Collaborative e. Human Development Degree Program f. UDC Child Development Center UDC Early Childhood Program (August 2012): Through the ECLI, the Center also will provide the leadership for the development and operation of the Early Childhood Program of a Pre-k through Grade 3 early childhood public school. Students from the Urban Teacher Academy will work alongside mentor teachers in the Early Childhood Program to learn how to provide challenging, engaging, standards-based instruction within a developmentally appropriate learning environment. National Conference on Urban Education (November 2012): Held annually each November, the National Conference on Urban Education will bring together scholars, thought leaders, practitioners, policy makers, and school leaders to present research, share best practices, and address issues of serious concern in urban education. This high-profile Conference will help place the Center at the forefront of national discussions on urban education reform. UDC School Improvement and Innovation Program (August 2012): The School Improvement and Innovation Program will work closely with local public and charter schools to develop partnerships and implement innovative programs designed to improve academic achievement. Through this program, UDC will operate a public school. Institute for Urban Education Research, Innovation, and Policy (August 2012): Through the Institute, Center faculty will conduct research on student learning, curriculum, pedagogy, and leadership development aimed at improving school operations, raising student achievement, and informing education policy. Center faculty will apply this research through partnerships with D.C. Public Schools, D.C. Public Charter Schools, and community organizations committed to improving academic and social outcomes for District students. Additionally, Center faculty will incorporate their research findings into the operation of Center-sponsored model schools and model classrooms affiliated with the Center. Through the Institute, faculty will be able to offer research courses leading to a Ph.D. in Urban Education. 4

5 School Leadership Academy (June 2013): The School Leadership Academy will offer in-service teachers and administrators an intensive, fourteen-month principal residency program designed to prepare each of them to become the principal of a high-need public school. Guided by UDC faculty and Mentor Principals, aspiring school leaders will spend six weeks in a rigorous summer institute, followed by a year-long, school-based residency in a public school, and culminating with a month-long planning institute. Partner school districts and charter schools will pay program graduates, and they must commit to serve in that district or school for four years. Degrees Offered The Center will be a degree-granting entity that will offer a variety of master s level degrees. All master s level programs will incorporate dual language and special education training into the course of study, ensuring that all graduates are prepared to teach in diverse twenty-first century classrooms. Master s degree programs will include: Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) o Elementary o Secondary Master of Arts (M.A.) o Dual Language Education o Early Childhood Education o Educational Leadership Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education (Ph.D.) o Reading o Special Education o Urban Educatio Niche Filled By the National Center for Urban Education With the Center, UDC will pioneer an approach to align the university s graduate-level programs with both the needs of local schools and the national movement to reform teacher education. The Center will tailor its programs to meet the demands of high-poverty, high-need schools throughout the District. The Center will be unique in three ways: 1. Focus on D.C.: As Washington s only public university, UDC has a mission to meet the needs of the District. No other school in the area focuses primarily on D.C. Public Schools and D.C. Public Charter Schools or has developed a close working relationship customized to meet the needs of both sectors. 2. Focus on low-performing schools: Few education schools in the country focus on high-need, high-poverty schools, and their failure to do so helps explain the proliferation of alternative programs that attempt to addresses teacher shortages in such schools. Unlike other education schools in the area, the Center will make low-performing schools its top priority. 3. Focus on the practice of teaching: Research suggests that theory-heavy education programs do not adequately prepare teachers for the classroom experience, particularly in under-resourced urban schools. By designing the Center to emphasize clinical practice and practical application, UDC will position itself at the forefront of education school reform. Target Students The Center will offer programs to meet the needs of a variety of different types of students: 1. Recent college graduates o Urban Teacher Residency o Early Childhood Leadership Institute o Master s Degree programs 5

6 2. Career-switchers o Urban Teacher Residency o Early Childhood Leadership Institute o Master s Degree programs 3. In-service teachers o Professional development sequences o Master s Degree programs 4. Aspiring school leaders o School Leadership Academy o Master s Degree programs Need for the National Center for Urban Education The need for such a Center is undeniable. Far too many children in Washington, D.C., attend schools that do not adequately prepare them for the world of work or college. Thirty-six percent of District adults are functionally illiterate and fifty percent of that population possesses a high school diploma or a GED. The persistently low academic performance by D.C. students presents UDC with a challenge and an opportunity to become a major player in the District s education reform effort, now and in the future. Through the Center, UDC will play a vital role in improving student achievement by addressing four critical needs: a. District Pre-K 12 schools and community-based organizations need more effective educators. Washington, D.C., has a reported graduation rate of below 50%, and consistently ranks at the bottom in state-by-state reports of academic achievement. While there are a variety of factors that account for these unacceptable achievement levels, new research suggests that effective teachers are the single most important school-based factor in improving academic achievement. One study in Texas concluded: having a high quality teacher throughout elementary school can substantially offset or even eliminate the disadvantage of low-socio-economic background. As the Education Trust puts it, Good teaching matters most. Significant progress has been made in recent years as new reforms have been implemented in both public and charter schools. The Center will build upon these successes and help raise student achievement by graduating top-quality teachers and school leaders who are committed to working in the District. b. The city needs a strong education program at its only public university. As the nation s only urban land-grant university and the District s only public institution of higher learning, UDC has a special responsibility to offer high-quality education programs that prepare effective, urban-savvy educators who can consistently and systematically raise student achievement. The Center represents the university s recognition of the need for reform and its commitment to building a strong education program that addresses critical needs in the local school system. c. The nation needs universities to play an integral role in improving urban schools. Although a number of alternative certification and recruitment programs such as Teach For America have emerged in the past two decades, education schools still produce more than 90% of new teachers each year. In order to make a significant impact on student achievement, education schools must improve dramatically. 6

7 d. Improving teacher-training programs is at the top of the nation s agenda. President Obama and his Secretary of Education have challenged schools of education to dramatically improve their programs and incorporate a series of reforms intended to hold prospective teachers and school leaders to more rigorous academic and assessment standards than ever before. Education Secretary Duncan has admonished university schools of education that don't attract the best students or faculty. The programs are heavy on educational theory and light on developing core area knowledge and clinical training under the supervision of master teachers Student teachers are not trained in how to use data to improve their instruction and drive a cycle of continuous improvement for their students. Many ed schools do relatively little to prepare students for the rigor of teaching in highpoverty and high-need schools. Relationship to Other Programs The National Center for Urban Education is designed to work closely with other programs at the University and with education entities throughout the District of Columbia metropolitan area. Students at the Center will be able to take class and/or participate in activities organized by the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Law, School of Business and Public Administration, and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and they will use the Learning Resource Center and other campus resources. The Center will also bring to campus the people and resources of the Early Childhood Leadership Institute, thereby generating more student activity and energy and enhancing the visibility of UDC s campus. The Center will develop a close working relationship with D.C. Public Schools and D.C. Public Charter Schools to insure that it meets the needs of the schools. The schools will benefit in several ways: a. Excellent Teachers and School Leaders: The intensive teacher and school leader preparation programs will develop excellent educators with extensive classroom experience and guidance from master teachers. Center graduates will enter their classrooms and schools better prepared to meet the challenges of District school environments. b. D.C.-Focused Teacher Preparation: The Center will be focused primarily on preparing teachers for District schools. Special attention will be given to the alignment the Center's instructional practices and clinical experience with the DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework as well as the IMPACT evaluation system. Residents will be work side-by-side with experienced District teachers and they will be encouraged to make a commitment to teaching in the District. c. Focus on High-Need Areas: The Center will be designed to be responsive to the needs of the schools and will make a concerted effort to develop educators who can fill positions in high-need areas such as dual language, special education, and early childhood education. d. Opportunities for Mentor Teachers: By working closely with experienced master teachers, the Center will offer an important opportunity for teachers to advance their careers without having to leave the classroom. This opportunity will create potential new career pathways and could help retain exemplary teachers at the teaching and learning level. e. Solid Research on Urban Education: Faculty researchers affiliated with the Center will concentrate their efforts on urban schools in the D.C. area. They will work with teachers and administrators to design, conduct, and disseminate useful research that can help improve student achievement. 7

8 National Center for Urban Education Program Chart The Center will have three primary program areas related to the University s land-grant mission: academics, research, and service. Proposed launch dates are in parentheses. National Center for Urban Education Academics Research Direct Service Early Childhood Leadership Institute Urban Teacher Academy School Leadership Academy National Conference on Urban Education UDC Child Development Center (AY ) Project Headway Master's Degree Programs Urban Principal Residency (AY ) Institute for Urban Education Research, Innovation, and Policy UDC Early Childhood Unit Directors Credential Urban Teacher Residency Master's Degree Programs (AY ) UDC School Improvement and Innovation Program DC Pre-K Collaborative Professional Development Sequences Human Development Degree Program (AY ) 8

9 9 National Center for Urban Education at UDC

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