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May 2020

Facilitating Practice-based Coursework and Creating Quality Control Gates
Practice-based coursework and quality control gates are two essential approaches in ensuring candidates are best prepared for successful enactment of what they are learning in coursework and in their clinical experiences. US PREP offered coalition providers the opportunity to convene around these topics in a webinar last month, with an emphasis on highlighting exemplar practices from universities across the coalition. Faculty members from Southeastern Louisiana University and Sam Houston State University shared how their institutions approach facilitating practice-based coursework and creating quality control gates, focusing on what they look like when they occur, who is involved, and how quality is determined. 
 
Practice-based coursework ensures candidates are prepared to effectively implement instructional approaches in the field. Jordan Ahrend, director of clinical practice and professional development at Southeastern Louisiana, provided methods and lessons learned from a recent revamp of their coursework to align with the instructional framework they use to support and evaluate teacher candidate competencies. Ahrend covered how the alignment started from a big picture pathway analysis to course-specific objectives that improved the comprehension of teacher candidates.
Quality control gates are an important mechanism by which programs can make certain candidates are fully prepared, highlight progress, and determine precise interventions and remediation needed.  Sam Houston State has improved its intervention processes with both early interventions and a more support-based structure to produce classroom-ready teachers. This aligns with US PREP’s collective focus (see Indicator 1.5 of the US PREP Developmental Framework) on candidates demonstrating proficiency on the teacher preparation program’s evaluation instrument and having a formal intervention for candidates when they do not meet performance gateway criteria.  Programs like the University of Houston, leverage a candidate's ratings on T-TESS, Texas’ instructional rubric, as the quality control gate for performance.  During the residency year, candidates must gain a “Developing” rating on each indicator by the end of their first semester and achieve a “Proficient” rating on each indicator by the end of their second semester.
 
Dr. Susan Harte, assistant clinical professor at Sam Houston State, covered how growth plans are being revised to provide greater support to teacher candidates. Sam Houston’s growth plans include not only areas of concern for a teacher candidate, but also the expected outcomes, steps and timeline for improvement, and how the candidate will demonstrate evidence that they’ve met the outcomes.  This approach ensures that the focus of the plans is truly rooted in improvement and that all stakeholders feel prepared to execute on both clear and measurable actions.   
"We saw growth plans as more of a reactive, or maybe punitive measure, and oftentimes, we waited until it was near too late for anybody to have any success to actually complete that growth plan,” Dr. Harte shared. In the new approach to creating and employing growth plans, the program stresses early intervention and a more support-based structure to get teacher candidates ready to complete the program and lead in their future classrooms.  “[It’s] a tool for success… A tool for improvement,” Hart said. 
 
To access additional ideas on developing performance gates and practice-based coursework, click here: Forging Best Practices in Teacher Preparation.
To learn more about how US PREP is disrupting inequities in PK-12 districts and communities across the nation, visit www.usprepnationalcenter.com.
Contact us for more details:
sarah.beal@ttu.edu
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