Leaders at California State University, which trains a whopping 70 percent of the state’s teachers, are launching a new effort to prepare their teacher candidates to work in the most challenging school environments. To do that, the ambitiously-named CSU Center to Close the Achievement Gap, has identified nearly 250 high-poverty, high-performing elementary, middle, and high schools around the state that are achieving solid academic results. Some teacher candidates will be placed in those schools for their student teaching experience to see and try firsthand how to deliver instruction and manage classrooms filled with students, who because of their family backgrounds, are often written off academically.
The new center, which is getting support from some of the state’s business heavyweights through the California Business for Education Excellence, aims to become a pipeline of new teachers who are trained specifically to work in high-poverty, hard-to-staff schools, said Jim Lanich, who is the initiative’s director. The public schools that have been tapped to be the training ground have been “outperforming expectations in every subgroup over time,” Mr. Lanich said. The center will also place some of CSU’s teacher candidates in the roughly 700 additional public schools that are also outperforming expectations based on their demographics, but aren’t necessarily high poverty schools.
CSU, which has 23 campuses serving 450,000 students, is a behemoth of teacher prep. Not only does it churn out the bulk of California’s teachers, its programs account for roughly 15 percent of the nation’s credentialed teachers. That’s why Mr. Lanich hopes the center can start to make a dent in the ever vexing problem of producing talented teachers for high-needs school.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.