Foundational Concepts

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Foundational Concepts

Urban Teacher Center (UTC) was founded to address a pressing national need for an effective corps of teachers who are accountable for student performance and rewarded for staying in the profession long enough to make a real difference in student achievement.

Our program model is informed by a growing body of research on teacher quality and advancement. Below we have listed some of the papers and organizations that have influenced our work.

 Teacher Quality Matters 

Studies overwhelmingly point to teacher quality as the single most important, school-based factor in student learning.


 Teachers Need Rigorous, Classroom-Based Preparation 

Teacher education programs vary widely in the quality and rigor of coursework, and as a result, their graduates vary in their effectiveness in the classroom. Part of the problem is that aspiring teachers get minimal experience in actual classrooms with students, and clinical practice are poorly designed and loosely regulated.

With UTC, teachers spend a full school year and two summers working in classrooms, while simultaneously completing rigorous coursework that directly informs their clinical practice.


 Teachers Should Be Accountable for Student Performance 

Research finds no correlation between teacher quality and years of experience, degrees, licensure status, test performance, or undergraduate coursework. The only reliable measure of a teacher’s future performance with students is an assessment of past performance.

UTC is the only teacher preparation program to assess every candidate’s ability to improve student learning and to use that measure to determine licensure.


 Advancement Should Be Tied to Performance 

Without good data about teacher performance, schools cannot make strategic decisions about tenure, promotion, or matching of staff to student needs. This inability to gauge teacher effectiveness virtually ensures that teachers retain their positions for life—regardless of performance—and that the most effective teachers will not be utilized to best advantage.


 Other Great Sources Research 

  • Gordon, R., Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. O. (2006). “Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job.” Brookings Institution.
  • Hanushek, E. (1992). The Trade-Off Between Child Quantity and Quality. Journal of Political Economy, Vol 100(1).
  • Koretz, D. (2008). Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us. Harvard University Press.
  • Rockoff, J. E., Jacob, B., Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. O. (2008). “Can You Recognize an Effective Teacher when You Recruit One?” National Bureau of Economic Research.