Metropolitan State College of Denver is so confident about its teacher education program that its graduates now come with a guarantee.
Any teacher graduating from Metro State’s licensure program who is not adequately prepared in his or her first year and requires more training can return to the classroom — for free — until the problems are fixed, said Metro State president Stephen Jordan, who announced the program Wednesday.
“We believe we are producing good teachers, and the best way to prove that is to stand behind your program,” Jordan said.
Metro State’s teacher education program graduates about 500 students every year. Most grads go on to teach in Jefferson County or Denver Public Schools or other metro-area districts.
“I love that,” said Sue Gill, director of professional development for Jefferson County Public Schools. “It’s quite a public promise. It’s a pretty gutsy marketing move.”
Gill said Metro State grads are typically strong first-year teachers.
“They come to us with solid classroom-management skills, solid content knowledge,” she said. “What we know is for all first-year teachers, the best way to learn is being in classroom situations.”
After getting their four-year degree, Metro State students in the program must take 18 months of courses for their licensure, including six months of student teaching, of which 10 to 12 weeks is spent in classrooms.
Typically, first-year teachers need help learning the curriculum, managing classrooms and using data to make instructional decisions, Gill said.
State law already requires school districts to provide first-year teachers with a higher level of support.
But Gill said she could see sending a teacher back for more schooling.
“If someone came out without, say, deep literacy training, that might be something for a teacher to go back and relearn.”
The University of Northern Colorado, which graduates about 600 teachers every year, follows its alumni and its effectiveness through surveys but doesn’t offer a guarantee.
“Through those surveys, we have learned there is not any major deficiency,” said Nate Haas, UNC spokesman.
Metro State’s initiative is beginning at the same time as teacher performance is getting more scrutiny.
On Tuesday, DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg outlined the district’s new reform plan that focuses on improving teacher effectiveness by using more complete evaluations, changing tenure rules, providing more training and removing poor teachers.
Last spring, Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bill into law that begins an effort to assign each teacher an educator number that links them to student achievement, teacher training programs, demographics and other data.
Colorado is angling for a share of $4.35 billion in “Race to the Top” federal stimulus money being offered to states pushing the most innovative reforms, with an emphasis on improving teacher quality.
“We are trying to be part of that solution,” said Jordan, who doesn’t anticipate having to provide many free tuneup courses.
Jordan established a similar program when he was at Eastern Washington University, and only a handful of students had to return for additional work.
“I think our faculty is really worried about it because they are taking a big risk,” he said. “But we are very confident in our program.”
Teachers would have to work out with their principals how to get the extra schooling — whether on weekends, nights or during the summer.
Patricia Hurrieta, a Metro State grad and principal at Godsman Elementary School in Denver, said the backing of their college should give Metro State students an edge in the job market. And the promise reflects well on Metro State too.
“It really makes the college look good because they are standing behind their program,” she said.
Jeremy P. Meyer: 303-954-1367 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Source : http://www.denverpost.com/2009/09/30/metro-state-guarantees-teacher-graduates-will-be-ready-for-classroom/660