The Boston Model: Does District-Run Teacher Prep Make a Difference?

Last week's news that SMU was developing a teacher prep program based around some of the ideas of No Child Left Behind(School of NCLB) got me thinking again about ed school innovation, which longtime readers will know is a favorite topic of mine.

One of the most intersting models I've come across is the Boston Teacher Residency Program, a yearlong certification program with 55 students in this year's class that is basically designed and run by the Boston Public Schools and -- this is the most interesting part -- not connected to a university. The district itself licenses and certifies the teachers.

That's a key difference. Most other fast-track and alt-cert programs -- there are lots of them -- operate through a traditional ed school in order to get their teachers certified. In the Boston model, the district itself is the certifying agent. That means it doesn't need to partner with a university or get outside approval for its curriculum and program structure. The curriculum is aligned with the district's efforts so that what you learn in class is matched up with what the schools are trying to do.

There are other differences, too. The instruction is often provided by people who are still connected to schools as coaches or teachers, unlike in many ed school programs. The candidates are clustered together in groups at schools, for mutual support. And -- this is also pretty interesting -- the candidates are all dual-certified in special education, and are recruited and selected for the program based on district needs rather than self-selection.

Now, not every district is in a good position to design and run its own teacher training programs. (As with other initiatives, Boston gets help in that regard from the Boston Plan for Excellence.) And there may be fewer differences -- and benefits -- on the ground than there appear to be from afar. But still, it makes you think.

Further Reading:
School-wise teachers Boston Globe


Anonymous Anonymous said...

For readers interested in alternative certification, there is a new study out of The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers (www.gse.harvard.edu/~ngt) that addresses issues of centralized, state-run alt cert programs and
district-based programs like the Boston Teacher Residency Program. Readers can find the report at: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ngt/Balance.pdf

1:13 PM  

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