(September 27, 2018) A report released today outlines the contributions of IDRA's 15 years in teacher preparation through six multi-year Transition to Teaching grants, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. IDRA partnered with universities and more than 55 school districts across Texas to prepare a new generation of skilled, effective teachers to lead and innovate in schools that need them most.
The projects recruited over 800 recent graduates and mid-career professionals who were working in fields other than teaching. These new teachers participated in university coursework and intense professional development while in a first-year paid teaching internship. They committed to working in high-need school districts for a set number of years.
"What set these projects apart from other accelerated teacher certification models was our emphasis on preparing teachers to work in diverse school settings, recognizing and building on their students' academic, cultural and linguistic strengths," said Dr. María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, IDRA President & CEO. "We also ensured participants had university instruction and direct classroom experience, blending the theoretical with the practical."
IDRA focused on key teacher shortage areas identified by the Texas Education Agency, including math, science, bilingual/ESL and special education fields. And through coaching, mentoring, in-person and online networks, IDRA built the kinds of professional communities that nurture classroom success and campus leadership. Educators were able to connect with one another across the state, exchange best practices, learn about research, and continue professional development online.
IDRA's model comprises six elements that frame the program's sequential processes: recruitment, selection, preparation, certification, placement and retention.
Regarding the program impact, teachers gave the highest rating (92 percent) to the statement, "Because of this project, my minority students improved their performance."
More than 85 percent of teachers felt that the program met and exceeded their expectations. As one teacher described: "It was a great experience that allowed me to learn from people with many types of perspectives. I was given confidence to try, and if I made a mistake, I learned and gave it another try through another approach."
Another teacher stated: "My preparation was completely accurate. I work in a school in which 99 percent are at-risk students."
The new report outlines lessons learned, best practices and implications for future quality teaching efforts in line with IDRA's recommendations: (1) value and practice diversity, (2) include all stakeholders, and (3) expand intervention models.