Illinois State University’s College of Education and Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline (CTEP) have been awarded a $10 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education to expand teacher education programs in urban, high-need communities in Chicago and urban districts in Central Illinois.

The new Teacher Quality Partnership grant will develop the URBAN CENTER (Using Research Based Actions to Network Cities Engaged in New Teacher Education Reform), an integrated, comprehensive system of urban teacher recruitment, preparation and induction/mentoring. This will strengthen the Pipeline model that will recruit and prepare 500 high-quality teachers for the highest-need districts in Illinois where teacher attrition is high and student achievement remains low.

Robert Lee head shot

Chicago Teacher Pipeline Director Robert Lee

“Our research validates the importance of a community-immersive model and its relative impact on a new teacher’s professional identity development,” said Robert Lee, project director and executive director, Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline. “How teachers situate themselves within our schools, interact within the spaces of the community, and view themselves as change agents are just as important as pedagogy and content mastery. If teachers can’t connect with their students, learning is debilitated and student achievement suffers.”

Now in its 11th year, the Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline has become a model for urban education and has produced almost 400 teachers for the Chicago Public Schools. CTEP works with very distinct neighborhoods including Little Village, Auburn Gresham and Albany Park. Carlos Nelson, executive director of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corp. stated that, “One of the things that makes this program so exciting is that student teachers become well acquainted with the community, its stakeholders and assets, which allows them to establish connections with students and families that could otherwise be difficult.”

Perry Schoon head shot

College of Education Dean Perry Schoon

“This grant is a validation of the significant amount of work over the past 11 years by the Illinois State Teacher Education community to address the unique challenges of preparing teachers for urban schools. We look forward to the opportunity to replicate this successful model in school districts in Decatur and Peoria,” said Illinois State College of Education Dean Perry Schoon.

In partnership with neighborhood community organizations, student teachers engage beyond the school before ever setting foot in the classroom. Residents support the teaching candidates, providing them with everything from summer housing to service-learning opportunities as they are immersed in racially diverse neighborhoods.

“Quality education is a critical component in a strong and healthy neighborhood. LISC values Illinois State’s commitment to preparing teachers to work in urban schools and its partnerships with the community groups we work with that help guide its local engagement,” said Susana Vasquez, executive director of LISC Chicago. “It’s wonderful that schools and students in Pilsen and East Garfield Park will soon also benefit from the deep relationships built by the Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline.”

Partners in Chicago include LISC Chicago, Chicago Public Schools District 299, State Farm Insurance Co. Foundation, Enlace-Chicago, Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corp., and North River Commission. New partnerships include Latino Policy Forum; Breakthrough Urban Ministries; The Resurrection Project; LISC Peoria; Peoria Public Schools District 150; and Decatur Public Schools District 61.

“The teachers I have hired through Illinois State’s Pipeline are among my very best,” said Carl Schurz High School Principal Daniel Kramer. “They entered with real knowledge and skills on creating classrooms with great student engagement, smart and effective teacher practice and a wide repertoire for meeting the needs of diverse learners.”

Find additional information on the New Teacher Quality Partnership Grant.

“Illinois State has a long tradition of preparing teachers and is proud to be an active partner in developing the next generation of educators,” said Illinois State President Larry Dietz. “The URBAN CENTER will allow a highly successful urban teacher education model to benefit more schools in Chicago and in Central Illinois communities.”