By Daschell M. Phillips
The University of Chicago Urban Education Institute received an $11.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Institute officials said the grant will help expand the program and develop an exportable model that could be adopted nationwide.
UEI is the university’s center for developing innovative approaches to improving K-12 learning in urban schools. In addition to its teacher preparation program, UEI operates four charter schools and the Consortium on Chicago School Research, which conducts research on Chicago school reform.
“This grant, one of the most significant we’ve ever received and certainly the largest from the Department of Education, is a strong endorsement from the federal government of our approach,” said Kavita Kapadia Matsko, director of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program.
The program has been recognized for having more than 90 percent of its graduates still teaching in Chicago Public Schools or similar urban school districts after five years.
UTEP has a preparation program that is two years in length. In addition to significant preparation in the areas of math and literacy instruction, the program requires a full year internship where candidates work alongside a master teacher in Chicago schools. The students are also immersed in an extensive study of issues related to race, class and culture. UTEP teachers continue to receive post-graduate support in the form of classroom coaching for three years to help graduates deepen the practices they’ve learned during preparation.
Kapadia Matsko said Chicago UTEP believes this rigorous approach to training and mentoring contributes to higher teacher in urban classroom retention rates than Teach For America and other similar urban education teaching programs.
She said the grant will provide students with a $20,000 living stipend during their residency, enhance the program’s curriculum in the area of bilingual education, special education, math and science and expands its efforts to train and support high school math and science teachers for its new high school teacher training program that was just launched this year.
“We expect the expansion will enable us to generate robust evidence about program effectiveness, building a strong case for what the future of urban teacher preparation and support should look like,” Kapadia Matsko said.