AUSTIN, Texas—With the state of Texas expected to search for 40,000 new teachers next year, the Meadows Foundation of Dallas has awarded almost $400,000 to a pioneering UT College of Education proposal that not only strengthens teacher preparation, but also focuses on retaining new teachers in their critical first year.
“The solution to the teacher shortage crisis is not to double the number of graduates,” said Dean Manuel J. Justiz, of the UT Austin College of Education, “but to make sure that Texas keeps them. Texas is losing 20 percent of its new teachers in their first year, and by the fifth year, we’ve already lost half.”
The Meadows Foundation pilot grant arrives just as stricter credentialing procedures have been approved by the State Board for Educator Certification — part of the national movement for greater accountability in the K-12 pipeline. Most experts credit Texas as the nation’s leading state in this reform.
Graduates of teacher preparation programs will no longer be given lifetime teaching certificates; instead, beginning teachers will participate in a five-year renewable certification that also requires education colleges to mentor their graduates in the first, or “induction year” of career teaching.
“We’re very pleased that the Meadows Foundation responded so quickly to this important new initiative,” said Justiz. “Texas only produces about 14,000 new teachers annually in all university programs statewide, so it’s essential that we help our graduates succeed in a profession that always requires very hard work and enormous dedication.”
The UT College of Education proposal applies a three-pronged approach: hiring a special program coordinator to oversee an interactive computer network and generate more field support for graduates in their early teaching years; awards encouraging faculty to upgrade computer skills and integrate more technology into teaching or research; and creating special fellowships to reward faculty serving as coordinators in the teacher education program.
NOTE: Interviews/filming are available with an award-winning College of Education professor, Dr. Jim Guszak, a teacher education coordinator and faculty member in the Curriculum & Instruction Department, who has focused his career on field-based research and also teaches his UT classes in the Hays Consolidated Independent School District (Buda).