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Arizona State University Teams Up With Teach For America

Exciting news in teacher preparation this week.

First, Arizona State University has announced that it will work with Teach For America to inform its own teacher-preparation program. A press release from ASU says that it will adopt the national alternative-route program's tools, including its recruitment and core-member-support mechanisms, to create "an improved national model" for teacher preparation and increase the number of effective teachers it produces.

As I wrote in this story and as Amanda Ripley wrote in The Atlantic Monthly, TFA has spent years trying to refine its recruitment and teacher-support systems and has gathered quite a bit of information about what appears to correlate with teacher effectiveness based on these efforts.

The rhetoric in education-policy circles and in the media tends to paint TFA teachers in one of two ways, either as crusading saviors or as under-prepared idealists. Both of those tropes miss an important fact: TFA has discovered some very interesting and novel human-capital practices. It's heartening to see this type of cross-pollination; I'd wager TFA will also pick up a thing or two from its contact with ASU.

Second, Urban Teacher Residency United, a group that supports the development of teacher-residency programs, is having its "residency for residencies" training this week. In a day and age where residency programs are quickly becoming the ne plus ultra of teacher preparation, UTRU's training is designed to support new partners to institute the many complex factors that make up a true residency program. These include a yearlong student-teaching experience in a school similar to the ones where candidates will be teaching; strong mentoring by experienced teachers; and embedded coursework, among other things.

I've heard rumblings out in the field about programs that are now calling themselves residencies, but don't have these core components, so this seems like a clever way of making sure everyone's on board.

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