Overview

Photo by Brian Cohen for Remake Learning

Research Policy Practice diagramToday’s educators need to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to support all students in learning deeply, and educator preparation policy and practice must evolve to help them do so. Recognizing this, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), in partnership with Bank Street College of Education, created the Educator Preparation Laboratory (EdPrepLab). EdPrepLab is a multiyear initiative to strengthen educator preparation in the United States by building the collaborative capacity of preparation programs, school districts, and state policymakers. Linking research, policy, and practice, EdPrepLab supports preparation programs that are equity-focused, student-centered, and grounded in the science of learning and development, and seeks to expand these approaches systemwide.

EdPrepLab’s Goals, Strategies, and Activities

EdPrepLab’s signature three-prong strategy aligns practice, policy, and research toward the transformation of educator preparation across the country. This strategy includes: (1) creating a network of preparation programs working to develop models for preparing educators for deeper learning; (2) conducting research and outreach about these models to build a deepening knowledge base and grow an ever-widening circle of programs learning about and innovating toward these goals; and (3) engaging with policymakers to shape licensing and accreditation policies and incentives to support programs as they transform the field.

Network of Preparation Programs

EdPrepLab, supports a network of preparation programs focused on infusing social and emotional and academic knowledge into their coursework—including content pedagogical courses—and developing strong, equity-focused educators. EdPrepLab helps programs create highly coherent and well-integrated course- and fieldwork around a vision of deeper learning and equity; and strengthen the capacity of clinical partners to adopt these practices widely.

The network of educator preparation programs includes several founding institutions that are experimenting with new ideas and are eager to learn more about how learning sciences can inform their practice in teacher and leader preparation. They are:

  • Alverno College, Milwaukee, WI
  • Bank Street College, NY
  • High Tech High, San Diego, CA
  • Montclair State University, NJ
  • San Francisco Teacher Residency
  • Trinity University, San Antonio, TX
  • University of California Berkeley
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Chicago, Urban Teacher Education Program
  • University of Colorado, Boulder
  • University of Colorado, Denver
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
  • University of Washington
  • Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

EdPrepLab offers member institutions:

  • Participation in a learning community: Through cross-programmatic sharing of innovative practices for deeper learning, including models and artifacts of educator preparation practice and site visits, EdPrepLab participants are building their leadership skills and shaping their practice as they collaborate within a network of professionals.
  • An intellectually rigorous base for program development: Collaborative, in-depth study of research in the learning sciences, professional learning, and educator preparation policy informs EdPrepLab participants’ educator preparation programs and practices.
  • Opportunities for original design-based research that encourages experimentation and innovation: Educator preparation faculty, administrators, and district and state partners engage in design challenges that serve to improve EdPrepLab programs, bring exemplary practice to scale, and provide rich sites for inquiry.
Research and Outreach

EdPrepLab supports two kinds of research. The first is action research. Conducted by participating programs, action research incorporates a series of design challenges focused on problems of practice, with the aim of documenting programs’ practices and their outcomes.

The second line of research gives participating programs the opportunity to contribute to LPI’s analysis of practices within (and in some cases, beyond) the network. This research includes documenting program outcomes such as employer and candidate perceptions of preparation, graduates’ practices in the classroom, and graduates’ performance on various performance assessments. This research also examines the quality of clinical placements, including placement sites’ engagement in deeper learning- and equity-focused practices, and the relationship between strong instructional culture in clinical placement schools and outcomes for new educators.

Policy

EdPrepLab supports states that are ready for changes in licensure and accreditation practices, providing language for standards and designs for processes to leverage deeper learning practices. EdPrepLab is also working toward the development and adoption of policy proposals that fund residency-type clinical experiences grounded in deeper learning and equity principles. LPI’s successful work with several states on these agendas has laid the groundwork for wider connections between policy efforts and needed innovations in practice.

There are two strands of EdPrepLab policy development. EdPrepLab works within states, connecting policymakers with regional network participants to develop learning communities sharing in key policy and practice discussions. EdPrepLab also works across states, engaging with national organizations such as the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Conference of State Legislatures, and National Governors Association to develop a framework for moving preparation forward to better reflect the science of learning and development.

This work takes an integrated systems perspective on the problem of transforming practice, built on the understanding that policies must not only support the redesign of schools to enable deeper learning and greater equity, but must also support the redesign of programs that develop educators’ knowledge, skills, and capacities. One focus of this approach is on creating ways for innovative, student-centered schools to partner with programs in preparing new educators. Another is ensuring that integrated supports for students living in poverty are put into place alongside high-quality instruction. Also essential is the development of state and district policies that encourage student-centered approaches—enhancing social-emotional learning, reducing exclusionary discipline, and deepening instruction and assessment—while simultaneously preparing educators to support and enact these approaches.

Policymaker capacity-building through the EdPrepLab, and through LPI’s other advocacy efforts, provides decisionmakers (e.g., governors, state legislators, state board members, and leaders and staff in state departments of education and licensing boards) with cutting-edge research, best practices, tools and resources, as well as guidance for adopting licensing and accreditation standards, assessments, and processes that support significantly stronger preparation.

By creating learning communities that bridge practice and policy, EdPrepLab seeks to expand the number of innovative schools and preparation programs enabling educators to teach and lead for equity and deeper learning; to strengthen the knowledge base about how to do this transformative work; and to enhance the capacity of states to leverage these changes on a broad scale.