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New UC Center Aims to Improve Urban Education

Date: May 29, 2002
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photo by Dottie Stover
Archive: General News

The University of Cincinnati College of Education is establishing a new center to address the diverse needs of urban schools. The Center for Policy, Practice and Research in Teaching is coordinating nearly $4 million in funding on the state and federal level that has been awarded to research, propose and deliver programs to "make teaching and schooling better for urban children," according to Martha Hendricks-Lee, center director. Martha Hendricks-Lee

Lawrence J. Johnson, dean of the College of Education, says a number of issues affect urban schools, including the diverse backgrounds and learning needs of the students. "Also, how do you get teachers who are prepared for urban areas to stay in urban areas? How do you meet their needs, the needs of the students, and what relationships can universities develop with the public schools to create pathways for students to see their way to a higher education?"

The center will help coordinate the research as well as follow the current partnerships the college has formed with the region's urban schools, including:

  • GEAR UP -- An acronym for the $120 million federal "Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs," a Cincinnati partnership that includes the College of Education was awarded a five-year, $2.1 million grant in 1999 to serve two of Cincinnati Public's most at-risk schools, Burton and Parham elementary. Both schools underwent redesign by CPS. This year, Parham was placed in the top achievement category of the district's school accountability plan following the 2000-2001 school year and Burton moved from the school redesign to the school improvement category. GEAR UP works with at-risk students before they reach high school to show them college is a pathway to a successful future.

  • Transitions to Teaching -- Alternative routes to teacher certification. Hendricks-Lee says the center will be working on recruiting more secondary math and science teachers for the Cincinnati Public Schools. "A performance-based system as opposed to the traditional routes (in teacher education) is really key here," explains Hendricks-Lee. "We want teacher quality, but we're addressing barriers to getting additional teachers in classrooms." This program is funded in part by a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. An additional $900,000 in funding was just awarded to UC by the National Science Foundation to expand the program and conduct research.

  • The Ohio Partnership for Accountability -- This is the five-year accountability study, led by the UC College of Education, examining how the preparation of new teachers affects the performance of their students. All 51 of Ohio's public and private teacher education programs have joined the study. The new Center for Policy, Practice and Research in Teaching will be the coordinating center for the research data.

  • Cincinnati Initiative for Teacher Education (CITE) -- UC's teacher preparation program and its local K-12 partnerships that lead to on-site teaching experience for UC education students.

  • Collaborations through the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation -- Founded in 1959, the foundation supports efforts to strive for excellence in elementary and secondary education around the state of Ohio. The UC College of Education is a partner with the four major urban areas in this region: Cincinnati, Hamilton, Middletown and Dayton. Johnson says partnerships have concentrated on literacy, professional coaching of teachers, administrative issues in the public schools and discipline in the classroom.

  • University of Cincinnati Institute for Community Partnerships (UCICP) -- Housed in the College of Education, the UCICP provides funding for pre-kindergarten to college initiatives between UC's colleges, programs and departments and Cincinnati Public Schools.

  • Coordination of college access programs -- Hendricks-Lee says the center seeks to help coordinate and align college access programs citywide, including programs provided through colleges, talent searches and community action initiatives. "We're working on a citywide collaborative to integrate and strengthen college access programs for students and their families."

    Furthermore, the center will work directly with key leaders in urban schools, through the establishment of a visiting scholar program in the center. Johnson and Hendricks-Lee announced that Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Steven Adamowski was selected as the center's first visiting scholar. Adamowski will be working with the College of Education's graduate Urban Educational Leadership program, one of a handful of programs of its kind in the country to specifically prepare administrators for urban schools.

    "I look forward to my participation in the work of the center as a means of helping to align the preparation of teachers and administrators toward a standards-based model that reflects and accelerates the effectiveness of K-12 education," said Adamowski.

    Adamowski will be lecturing for the program and will be giving students a firsthand view of the top job in urban education. Johnson says Adamowski will also assist in the development of transitions to teaching programs and in building relationships between the center and other urban administrators in Ohio.

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