Initial Publication Date: June 13, 2016

Making Change Happen

Part of the InTeGrate Washington State Colleges and Universities Program Model

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Below, we describe how the program was implemented and key aspects that contributed to the program's success.

High-Level Project Timeline

Over the course of a year, we held 3 workshops that brought stakeholders together to build a shared vision while including the broadest possible audience. Each workshop was held at a different institution to facilitate participation. All three were held on Saturdays to encourage in-service teachers, principals, and science leaders to join us. The leadership team developed the agendas for the workshops.

  • Workshop #1: Seattle Pacific University, January 2015. The goals of this workshop were to
    • Identify what we already do well with respect to STEM teacher preparation in Washington State,
    • Consider some of the drivers of change (e.g. new standards, assessments, policies, etc.), and
    • Envision the type of STEM teachers that students will need to be successful in the workforce and world of 2030.
  • Workshop #2: Central Washington University, May 2015 . The goals of this workshop were to
    • Continue the process of creating a shared vision for the next generation of STEM teacher preparation in Washington State,
    • Learn about innovative and successful STEM teacher preparation programs, courses, and resources, and
    • Begin the creation of a framework for STEM teacher preparation aligned with the NGSS and CCSS.
  • Workshop #3: Seattle University, October 2015. The goals of this workshop were to
    • Cement the shared vision,
    • Establish cross-institutional working groups around themes,
    • Establish action plans for institutions and/or regional groups to move forward.

At the final workshop, individuals identified themselves as leaders for their institution and/or discipline for moving our shared vision forward through additional meetings focused on proposal writing.

Key Aspects of the Program

Collaboration, not competition

Typically, teacher preparation programs across the state are in competition with one another for students, certification programs, and funding. As a result, communication between the programs can be guarded at best, and communication with statewide entities can be strained. Our workshops were designed to break down those barriers and focus on creating a whole from the many moving parts. In particular, we took time during the first workshop to highlight what groups felt like they were doing really well, and what they felt were their greatest challenges. This helped build a sense of trust and appreciation of the shared challenges and who had already addressed those challenges successfully.

Engage all stakeholders in teacher preparation

Our theory of change holds that no single institute of higher education (IHE), organization, school, business, or government agency has the resources or expertise to do this work, or do it as well, as a set of diverse experts and practitioners. In Washington state, the stakeholders in teacher preparation that we involved included:

  • Faculty who teach courses in teacher preparation programs at IHEs
  • IHE administrators (deans, chairs, program directors)
  • School district administrators and science coordinators
  • K-12 teachers and principals
  • Staff from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), which adopts statewide standards and assessments
  • Staff from the Professional Educators Standards Board (PESB), which certifies teachers
  • Staff from non-profit organizations involved in teacher professional development and/or curriculum development
  • Staff from local industries, national laboratories, and foundations that support STEM education

These diverse stakeholders collaborated to identify and develop innovative solutions to improving STEM teacher preparation at institutions with varying cultural contexts.

A systems approach

Teacher preparation is a complex system with many components, processes, and feedbacks. Any desired outcome or change requires multiple interventions within the system. Our attempts to involve all stakeholders were guided by an overall systems-oriented approach.

Sustaining Change

Faculty representatives from the 12 teacher preparation programs that graduate 90% of science and mathematics teachers in Washington came together for this work. We created a shared vision for STEM teacher preparation, reflecting state-of-the art, evidenced-based teaching, learning and assessment practices. Although each institution has different needs and contexts, building a shared vision helped create a sense of state-wide collaboration and cohesiveness, as opposed to competition for limited resources (i.e. relationships between and among institutions focus on shared goals rather than competition for pre-service K-12 students).

The collaborative spirit of this project, the shared vision for STEM teacher preparation, and our understanding of individual and collective gaps in STEM teacher preparation have laid the foundation for the upcoming project "NextGen-WA", an NSF-IUSE-funded work by a consortium of IHE faculty and administrators including from all 6 public, four-year institutions, 6 private four-year institutions, as well as faculty from 2-year colleges, government representatives, non-profits and industry. This project will directly address the issues brought to light by our collaboration so that all teacher preparation programs in Washington State are aligned with the NGSS.