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UK Partners to Prepare Excellent Teachers Across Kentucky

Preparing excellent teachers to lead classrooms across the state was at the center of an initiative recently launched in Kentucky.

Representatives from 18 educator preparation programs and seven school districts, along with state education leaders, gathered in Louisville in May for a summit to kick off the Kentucky Excellence in Educator Preparation initiative (KEEP). The theme was “Re-imagine Educator Preparation in Kentucky: ALL Together for EVERY Student.

The initiative is a result of Kentucky’s involvement in the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform (CEEDAR) Center, based at the University of Florida. In Kentucky, representatives from the University of Louisville, Thomas More College, University of Kentucky, Education Professional Standards Board, and Kentucky Department of Education are leading the initiative.

Kentucky joined the CEEDAR Center in 2016 as part of a multi-state cohort with Colorado, Mississippi, and Nevada. Each state takes a unique focus receiving technical assistance through a state partner process. In Kentucky, leaders are working to incorporate high leverage practices  into teacher preparation programs across the state. Through this work, the collaborators in Kentucky are focused on building the capacity of educator preparation programs to use the state data system to engage in continual program improvement. Kentucky is aligning the CEEDAR work with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) standards to increase sustainability and impact. Kentucky’s state leadership team includes representatives from special education, general education, and educational leadership at the three host institutions.

“We have spent the past two years collaborating on the development and implementation of a state level blueprint to help guide the enhancement of teacher preparation across the state,” said Dr. Laurie Henry, associate dean of clinical preparation and partnerships at the UK College of Education. “This statewide summit was a culmination of that work as we look to scale our efforts to other institutions. We are also working to build relationships between school districts and educator preparation programs to support teacher candidates as they grow into future Kentucky teachers with a strong emphasis on embedded clinical practice.”

The Louisville meeting featured Dr. Lynn Gangone, president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), as the keynote speaker. Additionally, members of AACTE’s Clinical Practice Commission served on a panel to set the stage with a focus on the importance of clinical practice and building strong partnerships between educator preparation programs and P12 schools. Dr. Mary Brownell, director of the CEEDAR Center at the University of Florida, was also a featured speaker. Participants attended sessions on evidence-based and high leverage practices, engaged in panel discussions, and heard from Kentucky education leaders, including Dr. Wayne Lewis, interim commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, and a representative of the Prichard Committee’s Student Voice Team.

The mission of the KEEP initiative is “to empower current and future teachers and leaders through intentional experiences to implement and sustain evidence-based practices in supportive environments to ensure opportunity and equity for all learners.” Funding from the CEEDAR Center will be utilized to offer mini-grants to additional educator preparation programs in Kentucky as a mechanism to scale the work across the state.