Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity launches transformation center

As part of its ongoing work to strengthen and grow teacher preparation at Minority Serving Institutions, the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED) launched its national Teacher Preparation Transformation Center by kicking off its inaugural cohort of four universities. By participating in this cohort, the schools of education will join a unique community of practice where university faculty and their PK-12 partners can access resources and professional development, network with others, share data, and learn from each other to move toward sustainability and innovation. The ultimate goal is to dramatically redesign these programs to produce greater numbers of diverse high-quality teachers. 

South Carolina State University, founded in 1896 as a land-grant institution, is pleased to be one of the participating universities in the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity Teacher Preparation Transformation Center. The P-12 school district partners are Orangeburg Consolidated School District 4 and Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5.

South Carolina State University president Dr. James E. Clark said, “We see this opportunity with BranchED’s Transformation Center as a catalyst for sustained improvement, innovation and impact in our region. One of the university’s main efforts is to provide diverse, high-quality teachers for school systems throughout the state. South Carolina State University’s Education Preparation Program is unique in that the majority of South Carolina State University’s teacher education candidates received their P-12 education in the same P-12 rural school districts as the students we serve. It is an honor to work in partnership with BranchED, an organization that recognizes the changing demographics of America’s students, and is dedicated to building a high-quality, diverse teaching profession for all students.”

Other participating institutions are California State University – Fresno in Fresno, Calif.; North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C and University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, Texas. 

“These universities stand out as innovators who are committed to changing the way providers have traditionally approached teacher prep by implementing research-based practices and developing modern approaches to improve teacher quality and diversity,” said Dr. Cassandra Herring, president and CEO of BranchED. 

BranchED’s Transformation Center is rooted in the organization’s work to redefine what constitutes quality educator preparation through commitment to a collective vision that marries quality and diversity in reflection of the changing demographics in America. The three-year program provides intensive and individualized coaching and support services to teacher educators and PK-12 partners of each of the four participating universities. Providers will work with BranchED staff to draft and implement an individualized plan for systemic and sustainable improvement. The goal is to ensure that all their graduates are competent and confident in their ability to teach all students. 

The four partner institutions were selected through a rigorous review process and are diverse in terms of location, size, and demographics. However, they all are aligned and committed to the same transformation goals, which will be advanced through their participation in the program. Over the course of the three-year program, participating institutions will engage in annual site visits from a BranchED facilitator and cohort workshops, and have access to BranchED’s online platform to engage, learn, and connect with fellow partners. 

This inaugural cohort will model and share best practices in teacher preparation, with the goal of replication across MSIs and other educator preparation providers in future years. Since the current teacher workforce is 80 percent white, many diverse students are not benefitting from instruction by a teacher who looks like them-a practice that leads to academic improvement and other positive outcomes. BranchED’s Transformation Center will promulgate successful efforts in improving and innovating in educator preparation programs, such that they produce increasing numbers of highly effective, diverse teachers who are equipped to support all students. 

The Transformation Center Coaching Cohort is made possible by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health with vaccines and other life-saving tools and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to significantly improve education so that all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

For more information, contact Dr. Charlie Spell, interim chair, Department of Education at 803-536-8963 or [email protected] 

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