Middle Tennessee State University announced Wednesday (Aug. 28) a first-of-its-kind partnership focused on bringing research-supported innovations to how the university prepares students to become K-12 teachers.
MTSU and the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, also known as SCORE, have signed a three-year renewable agreement to develop an innovative strategy for the MTSU College of Education to continue to improve and evolve the program to ensure graduates from the college receive excellent teacher preparation.
A signing ceremony was held Wednesday at Homer Pittard Campus School, a K-5 teaching laboratory school owned by MTSU and operated by Rutherford County Schools. MTSU was founded in 1911 as a normal school to train classroom teachers and remains one of the top programs in the state.
“I truly believe a partnership such as this will move us closer to our goal of making MTSU’s teacher preparation program the best in the nation,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, who was joined on stage by MTSU Board of Trustees Chairman Stephen Smith at the signing ceremony. “The commitment to this project extends from the university’s top leadership to faculty and staff in the College of Education and reaffirms our commitment to a key mission grounded in this university’s founding.”
MTSU offers one of Tennessee’s largest teacher preparation programs, preparing almost 10 percent of the state’s teacher prep completers annually. The university is committed to continuous improvement and has set the bold goal of becoming the leading teacher preparation provider in the nation.
SCORE is a Tennessee education research and advocacy nonprofit working to drive transformative change in education so all students can succeed in school, college, career and life. For the partnership with MTSU, SCORE has partnered with Education First, a professional services firm focused on impacting education systems, teachers, and students to achieve more equitable and effective public education for all.
“Teachers have the greatest in-school impact on student learning, and we know that effective educator preparation is connected to effective teaching,” SCORE President and CEO David Mansouri said. “MTSU is seizing the opportunity to improve teacher preparation, helping Tennessee to become a national leader in this important work. The outcome will be teachers who begin their careers ready to help our students learn at their highest levels.”
Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, SCORE founder and chairman, applauded the partnership’s potential and MTSU’s commitment to “continuous ongoing improvement” in teacher instruction.
“More change happens more quickly when leaders … from across the state work together for your success, for student success,” Frist told the dozens of Homer Pittard students in attendance. “Our goal at SCORE is really very simple, it’s to serve as an innovative catalyst for reform and improvement … We know from years of research that teachers are the most impactful people when it comes to how students learn and how well they learn. Today’s announcement honors that impact.”
SCORE recently expanded its mission to include postsecondary education and is excited to partner with MTSU in one of its first endeavors into the postsecondary space. By supporting this strategic planning process with MTSU, SCORE hopes to surface innovative strategies that can be scaled and spread across the state to ensure that Tennessee is a national leader in preparing effective teachers to lead our classrooms.
“Better-prepared teachers means better outcomes for students,” said Susan Bodary, managing partner at Education First. “We’re excited to bring what we’ve learned from our work with teacher preparation programs across the country to support MTSU and SCORE in this important endeavor.”
Throughout the strategic planning process, Education First will analyze data, access cutting-edge research on best practices, and work with MTSU leadership and faculty to develop innovative ideas to inform MTSU’s continuous improvement process. Together, Education First and SCORE will leverage relationships with national experts to assist MTSU in developing a strategic plan aimed at leading the way in transforming the development of effective educators.
“We are excited to partner with SCORE as we take our teacher preparation to the next level and establish the MTSU College of Education as a national exemplar,” said Lana Seivers, dean of the College of Education. “Working with and learning from Education First, we will build on MTSU’s rich history and success in teacher preparation to ensure that every student has the best possible experience in classrooms and schools across Tennessee and beyond.”