A new school to help prepare teachers and principals for today’s K-12 needs launched today at Colorado State University. The School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation, or STEPP, will offer teaching licenses under a new structure at the university.
As a part of the College of Applied Human Sciences, the School of Education has been offering teacher licensure programs but the STEPP program consolidates resources for required classes from colleges across the Colorado State University campus. The School of Education will continue to provide graduate-level courses and degrees.
"Teaching is the essential profession, the one that makes all other professions possible," said April Mason, dean of the College of Applied Human Sciences. "The School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation will focus attention on the important program of preparing the best teachers and administrators for our pre-K-12 education system. This new school will not only prepare new teachers and principals, it will enable faculty to conduct research and provide continuing education."
STEPP will intentionally address the shortage of teachers in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and math – along with shortfalls in foreign languages. The school also will focus on preparing principals to lead schools through today’s challenges. A new structure for the licensing process will create interdisciplinary study.
"Colorado State University is pleased to offer this opportunity to people who want to make a difference in the educational experience of students from pre-kindergarten through their senior year of high school," said CSU President Tony Frank. "The creation of this school better focuses our resources to realistically prepare teachers for today’s challenges and reflects our university’s desire to ensure an excellent and meaningful educational experience for students throughout their educational careers."
The current licensure process for educators at CSU is a non-degreed program; students receive their degree in a content area, such as history, and take teacher preparation classes in the School of Education. About 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students including early childhood, pre-kindergarten-12 and secondary education programs are currently in the licensure program. The existing School of Education will continue to offer advanced programs in education including a master’s and doctoral degree.
While the shortage of qualified teachers in math and science and subsequent lack of student interest and achievement in these subjects has long been a national concern, a recent national report indicates that teachers in all disciplines are lacking in preparation. A study by the former president of the Teachers College at Columbia University concludes that a high majority of the nation’s 1,200 teacher preparation programs are mediocre to poor, are not in tune with the nation’s schools and don’t prepare teachers for real-world classrooms. Colorado State’s teacher preparation courses and programs consistently win praise by the Colorado Department of Education, and some of its programs are models for others in the nation.
The school will be directed by Donna Cooner, current director of the licensure program at the university.
"The creation of this school allows the university to strengthen an already strong licensure program for teachers and continue to build our principal preparation program," said Cooner. "It creates a structure needed to support CSU’s programs, which are fast becoming regional and national leaders in educator preparation."
The existing program places a high number of graduates in teaching positions. A collaboration with local school districts results in CSU teachers-to-be receiving classroom experience with real students in real classrooms early and often in the teacher preparation program. The new teachers leave the program with a high level of skills and techniques based on the latest information available related to effective teaching and how young students learn.