College of Education is known nationally for quality and community connections

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Think back to the time when you graduated from college, diploma in hand, and stepped into your first job, nervous and worried, beginning your career with only the knowledge and skills drilled into you at your alma mater.

And then imagine that someone walks into your office one day and declares they plan to evaluate your work and compare your abilities and dedication to every other graduate in your major in the state.

Scary, huh? Welcome to the world of the first-year public school teacher.

That’s exactly what the Tennessee State Board of Education does each year as they collect data for the Tennessee Teacher Preparation Report Card. And each year for the past seven years, teachers who graduated from Lipscomb University College of Education have scored in the very top of the state’s criteria.

Just last month, the College of Education was once again re-affirmed as one of the most effective programs in the state with a score of nearly 98 percent in the “provider impact” category, measuring the effectiveness of Lipscomb’s completers in Tennessee’s public school classrooms.

The state is not the only organization to endorse the College of Education’s teacher preparation. Last year, the National Council on Teacher Quality released its latest nationwide listings of 717 undergraduate programs preparing high school teachers.

The study named Lipscomb as one of only 16 programs in the nation designated a “Top Tier” institution and one of only six programs in the country ranked in the 99th percentile. The 2017 NCTQ list was the third time the organization has ranked Lipscomb’s College of Education as one of the very top in the nation, previously ranking the secondary education program as fourth and first in the nation and ranking the graduate elementary education program as No. 14 in the nation.

“We are thrilled with the consistent overwhelming success of the teachers we prepare,” said Deborah Boyd, dean of Lipscomb’s College of Education, which has an enrollment of more than 800 students this year. “These latest honors are an indicator that we are consistently preparing new teachers to make a positive impact in the classroom. It is a reflection of the long-term consistency and quality of our program as we pursue our goal of providing the most effective educators in classrooms across the state and around the country.”

Lipscomb’s College of Education has a reputation for excellence that was established decades ago as Lipscomb began preparing teachers in the early 1900s. One of the university’s first nationally accredited programs was teacher preparation in 1967.

In recent years, the college has enhanced its rigorous academics by becoming highly connected to community organizations and educators, while also establishing innovative new approaches to developing classroom teachers as teacher-leaders who proactively work to collaborate and guide educators through the process of enhancing education for all students.

Perhaps the most famous example of a Lipscomb-produced teacher-leader is the architect of the college’s mindset from 2008 to 2014, Candice McQueen, a Lipscomb alumna who went from leading the charge as Lipscomb’s Dean of the College of Education to leading the charge in the state, as the Tennessee State Education Commissioner.

Nashville’s Metropolitan Davidson County Public Schools has benefited from Lipscomb’s leadership in education in various ways:

  • Lipscomb has been the host site and certification partner for Teach For America’s Nashville teaching corps (which also has a record of high scores on the Tennessee Teacher Report Card) for nine years, and Lipscomb faculty help train each new corps during their summer institute;
  • Lipscomb has partnered with the school district and TFA to create the Nashville Assistant Principal Fellowship. This leadership “pipeline” provides graduate-level course work, an administrative endorsement and real-world experience as a school leader or instructional coach during the TFA Summer Institute.
  • Lipscomb provided instructional coaching throughout a unique public-school-to-charter-school transformation at Cameron Middle School;
  • Lipscomb received a Diversity in Teaching grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to increase diversity in the public schools by providing its teaching licensure program to educational assistants and mentor coaching to minority teachers;
  • The Lipscomb/Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools Literacy Partnership brings best practices and instructional coaching to literacy coaches throughout the district; and
  • The Ayers Fellows Leadership Program provides scholarships, graduate course work and school-based mentors to prepare teachers to become school administrators.

Tennessee has also called on the Lipscomb College of Education numerous times in the last decade:

  • The Tennessee Department of Education has contracted with Lipscomb for three years to select proposals and train teachers to hold summer literacy camps throughout the state. The camps are a project of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s Read to Be Ready summer grant initiative and will impact 7,700 students this year;
  • The state education department also selected Lipscomb University’s Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning & Innovation to develop and launch the online portal, eduToolbox.org, hosting free instructional resources for teaches across the state;
  • The state also contracted with the Ayers Institute to provide online video instruction for Tennessee education college faculty and MOOCs to help educators understand the Tennessee State Academic Standards implemented in the state’s public schools a few years ago; and
  • In August, the state awarded Lipscomb a grant to carry out the Teachers as Writers program, providing novice educators with opportunities to practice their writing skills, in an effort to enhance teacher effectiveness.

Such collaborations forged in the past decade earned Lipscomb a Model of Excellence award in 2016 from the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education.

Falling in line with the state’s focus on improving literacy, Lipscomb also coordinates the Lipscomb Literacy and Engagement program, which last year hosted popular children’s author Kwame Alexander for thousands of Middle Tennessee students to hear, and this year will host award-winning author Jason Reynolds in April. Lipscomb will host a community book read of Reynold’s book “Long Way Down,” and once again host students from throughout Middle Tennessee to hear the author speak.