At Relay, we’re excited about the work that we do every day to help teachers and principals improve the lives of their students. We also know that we’re not alone in the quest to improve our education system, and that true reform requires more than the efforts of any single organization.
That’s why we’re proud to have a seat at the table with Deans for Impact, a consortium of leaders from the nation’s top education schools. Together, they’re committed to improving outcomes for students by transforming how they prepare educators to work in schools.
Relay Dean Mayme Hostetter became one of Deans for Impact’s early members last year, joining 17 fellow leaders of programs in urban areas — including Hunter College in New York City, the University of Southern California’s Rossier School, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore — and rural ones, too — including the University of Idaho and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
“To have access to leaders from institutions serving so many different populations,” Hostetter says, “is pretty rare.”
It’s also vital to the group’s desire to improve student outcomes across a wide range of educational environments.
Deans for Impact’s first step, in January, was to publicly issue its support for the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed federal regulations for teacher preparation. The rules would require states to rate education programs on criteria such as their graduates’ hiring rates, the results of district surveys on the effectiveness of programs’ training, and measures of alumni effectiveness in the classroom.
“It was the first attempt by the federal Department of Education to codify some meaningful measures of teacher-prep programs,” Hostetter says. “It was important that we identify ourselves as a group that supports those efforts, and get behind them quickly.”
In their letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the deans wrote that, "teacher preparation programs should be held accountable for our graduates’ impact on their students’ learning. We are committed to using outcome data, including performance assessments, observations, absolute measures of achievement, and value-added measures of student achievement, to drive improvement within our programs. We will work to persuade other teacher-preparation programs to do the same.”
Over the long term, the deans plan to develop data that could inform the curricula at their own schools. This coming school year, Hostetter and deans from Temple University and East Carolina University are testing components of their own programs and bringing their findings to the larger group.
Ultimately, Deans for Impact plans to share what its members learn with institutions outside of the group as well. In that spirit, the group recently launched a blog to help educators collaborate and stay abreast of developments in various parts of the country.
"Our hope is to foster a dialogue and share more about the work taking place to improve the preparation of teachers," the group wrote on the blog. "And there’s a lot happening in this space."