Research News

Vanderbilt and MNPS to lead tri-state efforts to build ‘pipeline of teaching excellence’


Advancing the math and science achievement of third through sixth graders in high-need schools is the aim of a new national partnership, which is being led in three states, including Tennessee, by Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.

The national partnership, led by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and recently named the recipient of a $3 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education, will focus on elevating student achievement by improving teacher preparation and early-career teaching support. It will help train 1,500 teachers and impact the learning of 35,000 students nationwide, with future expansion to other programs, grade levels and content areas planned.

“A crucial difference between the effective teacher who stays in the profession and the person who never develops that level of skill or staying power is the quality of preparation and support in the early years of teaching,” Marcy Singer Gabella, co-chair of the Vanderbilt and MNPS team that will be leading the effort in Tennessee, New York and Washington, said.

“We are excited to join forces with the National Board, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, and the other higher education and district partners to build a strong bridge of professional learning opportunities and materials, so that we can more effectively grow and keep a highly talented group of professionals working with P-12 students. ”

Marcy Singer-Gabella
Marcy Singer-Gabella (Vanderbilt University)

Lisa Wiltshire, assistant to the director for strategic planning and management at MNPS, is co-chairing the tri-state effort with Gabella.

“Teacher development is a critical piece of our overall district improvement strategy,” Jesse Register, director of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, said. “This partnership fits perfectly with our efforts to recruit the best new teachers and provide the support and professional development they need to ensure the highest quality instruction for our students, particularly in the much-needed STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math). We are excited to work with Vanderbilt’s Peabody College and the other partners on this project.”

The other Tennessee partners are Tennessee State University, the University of Memphis, Jackson – Madison County Schools and the Tipton County School System. Beyond Tennessee, partners are: Niagara Falls City School District, N.Y.; Yakima Schools, Wash.; Seattle Public Schools, Wash.; West Valley School District, Wash.; University Educational Service District 105, Wash.; Niagara University; University of Washington and Central Washington University.

“The work undertaken with our partners will directly raise student achievement in STEM fields by strengthening the way we prepare and induct teachers into the profession,” Ron Thorpe, president and CEO of the National Board, said.

The project, Building a Pipeline of Teaching Excellence, capitalizes on the National Board’s unique repository of case studies of accomplished teaching, including videos of board-certified teachers paired with reflective analyses describing instructional decision-making and teaching strategies. The cases will be housed in an online resource called Accomplished Teaching, Learning, and Schools (ATLAS). Through the i3 grant, the National Board and its partners will pilot ATLAS cases in six teacher preparation programs and seven local education agencies (LEAs). The project will help embed National Board standards and exemplars of accomplished teaching in pre-service and induction in participating institutions of higher education and LEAs.

Work on the grant commences by the end of the year. The National Board must raise $450,000 by Dec. 12 as part of the required matching commitment.

The National Board and its partners will widely disseminate findings from this project through research and policy briefs, presentations to their memberships, research monographs, postings on websites and social media. The primary role of organizational partners will be to facilitate the dissemination of information and research gleaned from this initiative. Findings will be broadly disseminated to all of the nation’s schools, colleges and departments of education; state education agencies; and the National Board’s network of 100,000 accomplished teachers and policy partners.