Recognizing the rising pressure to hold teachers and administrators responsible for student achievement and pressures on new teachers, the University of Southern California’s college of education is offering its graduates a guarantee – if they’re struggling with part of their jobs, the college will have their backs.
In a new program announced Thursday, all 25,000 or so alumni of USC’s Rossier School of Education are entitled to on-the-job assistance if they’re facing professional challenges.
“We are well aware that teachers are the single most important factor in a student’s academic success,” said Dean Karen Symms Gallagher in announcing the initiative. “We think this is an innovative initiative to address what is a nationwide issue about teacher education.”
As part of the what the campus is calling its Rossier Commitment, the school has set up a dedicated phone line and email that will connect graduates to a “rapid response team” of nine faculty members. Depending on the problem, the team will design an individual plan that may simply involve directing someone to resources or, in more difficult situations, require professors to visit schools and providing on-site coaching.
The service is open to all of Rossier’s graduates. In addition to teacher credential programs, the college also offers master’s degrees in special education, counseling, school leadership and teaching English learners, and administrative credentials.
The launch comes as teachers, in particular, have to rewrite curriculum and redesign instruction to meet the more collaborative, hands-on requirements of Common Core State Standards in math and English language arts.
Nationwide, colleges of education are also under increased scrutiny, and have been for some time. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan chastised them in a 2009 speech for “doing a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st century classroom.”
California’s teacher training programs took a direct hit over the summer, when a much-disputed report from the National Council on Teacher Quality called them among the worst in the nation.
Gallagher encouraged other schools of education to make the same commitment as Rossier. A similar program has been under way for several years at the College of Education at California State University, Long Beach. Its New Teacher Warranty extends to all graduates and their employers during their first year of teaching. Combined, Cal State campuses prepared just over half of the state’s teachers.
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