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Report calls for more collaboration between local colleges and Broward schools
By Laura Figueroa
Among the responses from more than 350 Broward teachers:
• New teachers want formalized mentoring
• Experienced teachers want more opportunities to learn from experts
• With educational benchmarks constantly changing, they would like clear directives from school administrators.
“The No. 1 priority for teachers was having effective leaders,” said Dave Wallace, director of Public Policy Advocacy for the United Way of Broward, who coordinated the study.
On Saturday, United Way will present its report to Superintendent Robert Runcie, aiming to find solutions to some of the issues raised in the report.
A key recommendation: For the school district and local colleges and universities to work closer in developing programs that not only prepare education majors to teach, but also to meet the added demands of the job like engaging with parents and incorporating technology into lesson plans.
Broward College, which was involved in the study, has implemented some of the recommendations by increasing communication with Broward district officials about their needs, said Aline Sarria, Dean of Teacher Education.
After learning from the district that there was a need for more science and math teachers, the college’s teaching program has beefed up its focus on preparing teachers for the STEM fields - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Education majors at the 3-year-old program are learning how to teach math and science with iPads and other computer software.
“We’re trying to meet the needs of the area and be proactive,” Sarria said. “We have the luxury of being relatively new to make some of those adjustments.”
Since January 2010, the United Way, along with a task force of business leaders and educators have hosted community forums, interviewed parents and students, and surveyed teachers online to get a feel for common concerns throughout the district.
Many teachers and parents complained that the state’s focus on the FCAT meant certain skills or subjects not covered by the test were being shortchanged.
The study was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and was part of an initiative to track the progress of educational reforms in Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee. Similar reports were conducted in Tampa and Jacksonville, and will be presented to the state Department of Education and to lawmakers during the current legislative session.
“Hopefully, they’ll be able to use our work as a framework to guide them as they pass legislation,” Sarria said.
To view the full report go to http://www.unitedwaybroward.org/Empowering-effective-teachers .