Unique partnership seeks to improve teacher development

On November 8, 2010, a group of superintendents and deans from the Portland metro area met. At the invitation of Dean Randy Hitz (Graduate School of Education), Dean Scott Fletcher (Graduate School of Education and Counseling at Lewis & Clark College) and Superintendent Carole Smith (Portland Public Schools), the group convened to discuss forming a partnership focused on the improvement of the teaching profession. What they are proposing has never been done in Oregon before—a unique partnership between multiple school districts and multiple schools of education in which colleagues creatively problem solve pressing issues in the field of education.

Flash forward five months to April 2011 and the Portland Metro Education Partnership (PMEP) is holding its first official meeting. “We share the belief that teacher education and professional development are responsibilities best shared by both institutions of higher education and preK-12 schools,” says Liza Finkel, associate dean of PSU’s Graduate School of Education and a planner of the project.

The group agrees that improvements in teacher preparation beginning in preservice and spanning the entire career will result in better teacher retention, stronger and deeper preK-12 student learning, and high quality schools. PMEP has three primary goals:

  • Work collaboratively to develop preservice and inservice teachers
  • Develop a vision of continuous teacher development over the course of a teacher’s career
  • Address issues of equity in the schools

The new partnership is piloted by the PMEP Leadership Council, consisting of deans and superintendents from of each member institution—10 school districts and 10 (public and private) schools of education. PMEP Leadership Council members have each designated representatives to meet monthly on the steering committee to begin tackling issues at the heart of the profession. Currently, the steering committee is working on issues regarding the identification and preparation of mentor teachers and looking at the design of student teaching experiences.

Project leaders believe that the strength of the project depends on collaboration. “Every member of the PMEP is working to improve educator preparation and professional development, but only together can we create a more seamless, efficient, and effective system,” says Dean Randy Hitz of the GSE.

To monitor progress of the PMEP, visit the PMEP website.

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