US PREP Awards Four Coalition Partners Innovation Pilot Grants

To foster innovation amongst educator preparation programs and school district partners in the coalition, US PREP reserves funding every two years for pilot programming proposals that foster innovation in the field of teacher preparation. The topics for the Innovation Pilots are developed by the coalition members and their school district partners with the goal of proactively addressing unmet needs and future trends in teaching and learning.

Jackson State University and Southeastern Louisiana University were the inaugural recipients of the first Innovation Pilot Grants, which focused on Social & Emotional Learning. In 2018, the coalition developed a new Innovation Pilot focused on Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT), which was spearheaded by Sam Houston State University.  Sam Houston State has recently completed a webinar series to share their learning.  The webinar material can be accessed here.

The year 2020 presented opportunities to think differently. University-school partners joined together to best support their teacher candidates and PK-12 students in ways that they had not previously done before due to the pandemic. To capitalize on these innovations, the 2020 Innovation Pilot Proposal did not address a specific problem of practice developed by the coalition, rather, it allowed partners to derive a topic that would directly address challenges in their own contexts. The proposal required participants to provide: 

  • A description of an authentic problem occurring within the school-university teacher preparation partnership context that has an impact on disrupting inequities in PK-12 schools via teacher candidate readiness
  • Evidence that the problem of practice is of importance to both school and university partners
  • Evidence of the school-university partnership’s clarity about how the problem of practice impacts both teacher candidates and PK-12 students
  • Justification for how your problem of practice relates to a larger audience–specifically other coalition universities
  • Evidence that the problem of practice supports diversity, equity, and inclusivity goals set by the university provider and PK-12 schools

Each of the four university-school partners that were awarded the US PREP Innovation Pilot Grants have problems of practice that are both unique to the field and replicable innovations if the outcomes of the pilot prove to be successful.  See below for an overview of each of the innovations.

Coalition of New York Universities
comprised of Brooklyn College, Lehman College, and Touro College

Innovation Focus: These colleges work within the New York City Department of Education to place and supervise teacher candidates, and all three colleges place candidates in the same district.  As a New York Coalition, the intervention aims to establish a governing board to address shared values, clear protocols, and ongoing partnerships.  As a partnership, they will address: 

  • Shared supervision of candidates based on placement
  • Use of e-supervision techniques
  • Evidence-based decision by both clinical educators and candidates that focus on PK-12 student learning and instructional effectiveness
  • Co-teaching in PK-12 classrooms and during methods courses
  • Mutual development of participants (i.e., candidates and clinical educators)

University of Texas-El Paso 

Innovation Focus: Roughly one-third of PK-12 students in the region are coded as English Language Learners, also known as emergent bilinguals (EBs), and they contend with persistent inequities tied in part to deficit notions surrounding their academic performance and achievement. UTEP’s intervention seeks to address these inequities through an intervention focused on the development of teacher candidates’ knowledge, skills, and practices in language development, and specifically in using formative and summative language assessment data to make informed decisions about instruction with emergent bilinguals.  The ultimate goal of this intervention is to positively impact the academic outcomes of emergent bilingual students in the El Paso region (and beyond). 

University of Texas-San Antonio

Innovation Focus:  University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) will develop Culturally Efficacious Mentor Modules, which will guide mentor teachers through a reflective process. The goal is to create a cadre of mentor teachers who model, coach, and guide clinical teachers through the implementation of culturally efficacious pedagogical practices.  

This work will:

  • Create a shared responsibility with district partners to select, support, and develop strong mentor teacher-clinical teacher relationships
  • Foster opportunities to critically and continuously reflect on evidence-based feedback to extend knowledge and practice of culturally efficacious instruction
  • Provide mentor teachers with a Culturally Efficacious Professional Learning Community (CE-PLC) to utilize as a space for collaboration, critical dialogue, critical reflection, and support

University of Houston

Innovation Focus: University of Houston’s intervention aims to build capacity in pre-service and in-service teachers around equity-focused practices (i.e. coaching, building the classroom environment).

This work will:

  • Increase mentor teachers’ knowledge base about equity-focused coaching practices using an instructional intervention accompanied by Mursion simulation experiences
  • Determine mentor teachers’ use of the equity-focused practices to facilitate increasing student teachers’ use of such practices and impacting the classroom environment at Mitchell Elementary School
  • Determine the usefulness of Mursion simulation experiences for increasing mentoring teachers’ use of equity-focused language and practices thereby impacting their elementary students at Mitchell Elementary School

Each university-school recipient, alongside their district partner(s), will share their progress over the next 18 months with coalition members during US PREP convenings.