TeachOregon was a pioneering program designed to pilot innovative models for needs-driven teacher preparation. Launched in 2014 with funding from Chalkboard Project and the state’s Oregon Network for Quality Teacher and Learning, the initiative was demand driven, community directed, and proactively addressed the needs of teacher candidates, school districts, and the students they served.
With five regional teams comprising school districts, community colleges, and universities, TeachOregon pilots aligned agendas and programs, helping make teacher preparation a more efficient, rigorous, and equitable system for the next generation of K-12 teachers.
Now completed, TeachOregon’s greatest impact was the collaborative relationships the program facilitated. According to an evaluation conducted by ECONorthwest, participants agreed the initiative built “strong and lasting partnerships—ones that did not exist in the past, but will be essential to continue the work of improving teacher preparation programs.”
Cecelia Monto, the dean of education and humanities at Chemeketa Community College, couldn’t agree more. She says, “It was the first time we really came together to create a clear and coherent pathway.”
Historically, school districts and higher education institutions operated in relative isolation from each other, pursuing parallel yet separate agendas despite their shared interest in educating a quality teacher workforce. TeachOregon sought to change that by bringing the parties together to address the issue holistically, starting with teenagers interested in becoming teachers through to new college graduates actually starting their careers in the classroom.
The initiative developed a career pathway, starting with programs for aspiring teachers in middle and high schools and continuing through teacher education programs in community colleges and universities. New and improved clinical programs assured teacher candidates got relevant experience in classrooms. New-teacher mentoring and induction programs gave teachers critical support in their first years on the job.
“We’ve seen some really solid, sustainable gains in just three short years,” says Erin Prince, Chalkboard’s vice president of education policy. “The piece that was the greatest value was bringing everybody to the table so we could start the communication, alignment, and support we need to build those pathways.”
For example, Chemeketa revived its teacher preparation program thanks to the jumpstart it got from TeachOregon. The community college hired a full-time faculty member who is now funded in the general budget, leveraged scholarship funds for bicultural and bilingual students interested in pursuing education career, and developed partnerships with the education programs at Pacific and Corban universities.
Monto says, “TeachOregon enabled us to create and infrastructure and partnerships that will endure.”
George Fox University also expanded its reach through “purposeful collaborations” with school districts, as well as scholarships and expanded opportunities for its students, says Saurra Heide, assistant professor of education at the university. The university was able to strengthen its relationship with the Tillamook School District, for example, leading to school placements and home-stays of eight teacher candidates from the university in Tillamook despite the distance between campus and the coast.
“It wasn’t just about getting the placements—it was more about what the district needed, what the students needed, and how we could help each other,” Heide says. “It’s about the power of partnership.”
Read the final report on TeachOregon’s for more detailed analysis of accomplishments and recommendations for future work.
- Teacher Preparation
- Educator Workforce