College of Education and Human Development joins transformative cohort to better serve future educators, students

The Lamar University College of Education and Human Development is proud to announce its acceptance into Cohort V of the University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation, or US PREP, teacher preparation program transformation.

“Upon initial review of the US PREP transformation model, we were impressed at the breadth of their involvement in the transformation of teacher preparation programs, particularly in the state of Texas. We are excited and grateful to have been chosen to be included in Cohort V,” said Dr. Robert Spina, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “We believe, with the guidance afforded from US PREP, that we will develop our teacher preparation program into a top-quality residency model. Once transformed, our teacher candidates will be ready on day one in their own classroom to meet the needs of diverse and historically underserved student populations.”

Launched in 2015, US PREP creates partnerships that focus on teacher preparation and student success. Before being added to the cohort, new institutions are vetted by US PREP during a rigorous three-month interview and selection process that includes the submission of an application and baseline performance data, faculty and leader interviews and discussions with teacher educators, administrators and all key leaders within the partnership. US PREP Cohort Graphic

Seeing a need under its current program, Lamar University sought out US PREP in order to better serve its future educators.

“We sought US PREP for a number of reasons,” said Spina. “Lamar University Teacher Preparation Program recognized that we can no longer prepare teachers in the same way as years ago. Because of today’s complexities, candidates need more preparation time in the classroom. The residency model presented by US PREP provides this avenue. US PREP is the leader in facilitation of the transformation process.”

US PREP provides on-the-ground support and services to a coalition of more than 26 university-based teacher preparation programs with a common mission of attracting, training and retaining high-quality, racially diverse teachers for underserved communities across the country.

"We are moving from a single clinical semester model to a year-long residency model with the integration of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice principles," Spina said. "In the process, we expect to develop strong school district and community partnerships."

Under the guidance of US PREP, LU intends to transform its undergraduate program to ensure that teacher candidates graduate from Lamar University equipped to positively impact K-12 students by building teacher candidate content knowledge and competency to meet all students where they are and advance their learning by giving them what they need. The program will be especially focused on historically underserved students.

“Teacher candidates are positively impacting student achievement during their residency year. Further, teacher candidates have developed and implemented improvement plans in classrooms that effectively improve children’s perceptions of the teacher and the learning environment,” said US PREP Executive Director Sarah Beal. “We’ve seen the US PREP model have tremendous success preparing high-quality teachers across the southern regions of the U.S. and we’re extremely proud to see it spread even farther as we continue to ensure that every child, especially our historically underserved students, have access to high-quality teachers.”

Lamar University will move from a single semester clinical teaching experience to a year-long residency model in which teacher candidates complete their final year of their undergraduate program assigned to a mentor teacher at a local campus with ongoing support from LU faculty and staff.

“The year-long residency model will allow our teacher candidates to experience the full array of teacher responsibilities and experiences from the beginning of the school year to the close of the school year. It provides teacher candidates the opportunity to develop relationships with the students in the assigned classroom as well as to experience other teachers in a collegial role," Spina noted. "Teacher candidates would have the opportunity to participate in PLCs, staff meetings, parent conferences, and other critical school functions that otherwise may not be afforded in a single semester placement. The residency model allows teacher candidates to be immersed in the school culture from day one."

The US PREP model ensures that coalition members share teacher preparation program goals, committed to the following:
• Building teacher candidate competencies to meet the needs of all students, especially historically underserved students;
• Using data to support continuous improvement efforts;
• Supporting teacher educators with preparing novices to work with all students; and
• Establishing strong partnerships with schools in order to meet the needs of the K-12 students in the community.

Beaumont Independent School District, led by LU distinguished alum Dr. Shannon Allen, will become a strategic partner with Lamar University, as both entities seek to meet the needs of more than 16,000 students in the school system.

"Lamar University is very excited to engage with BISD in the development of highly effective teachers through our mutually beneficial partnership. We envision assigning our teacher candidates to mentor teachers who are chosen through a rigorous selection process and robust training to ensure that the mentor teachers understand and are supported in their role in developing new teachers," Spina said. "Our faculty and supervisors will serve a critical role in supporting both teacher candidates and mentor teachers through content-area and pedagogical coaching and professional development. BISD and Lamar University will meet regularly to assess teacher candidate progress, adjust support mechanisms and identify areas to develop teacher candidate dispositions."

The district has 13 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools and five special program campuses. The biggest challenge, Spina said, is finding highly effective teachers to meet the demand on all of its campuses.

“US PREP has a proven track record of transforming teacher preparation programs,” the dean added. “Lamar University is looking forward to positive outcomes for the Beaumont community.”