We Need More Highly Qualified Teachers. Our Grantee Has a Solution.

A new initiative from U.S. Prep aims to help ease the path for community college students interested in education careers

A new partnership between Houston Endowment and US PREP aims to make the process easier for those pursuing the teaching profession. Representatives from five regional educator preparation programs and seven community college convened to create collaborative structures between school districts, community colleges, and educator preparation programs.

Teachers are the most significant factor in a student’s educational experience and academic outcomes. Our region’s children deserve great teachers, and the best teachers are well-prepared and highly qualified to lead the classroom.

There are several pathways an individual can take to become a teacher. In Houston, it’s common for candidates to begin their journey at community college, then transfer to a four-year institution to complete their coursework. But it’s not an easy path; in fact, it’s fraught with challenges and barriers, including confusion about credit transfers and access to adequate advising and support services. Only 45% of Texas students transferring to four-year colleges earn a bachelor’s degree within six years, with even lower completion rates among Black and adult students, according to a report from the Community College Research Center and Aspen Institute.

Houston Endowment grantee US Prep has a solution — an initiative called Educator Preparation Partnership Pathways that fosters collaboration between school districts, community colleges, and educator preparation programs.

With all entities of the teacher preparation process working together, teacher candidates hoping to transfer from a community college to a four-year university can receive stronger support systems and reliable advising on their career path, as well as have access to paid clinical teaching experience, low-cost tuition, and financial support.

The initiative is launching in Houston, Waco, and Fort Worth. In Houston, the collaborative involves five regional educator preparation programs (University of Houston, University of Houston-Downtown, Prairie View A&M University, Sam Houston State University, and University of Houston-Victoria) and seven community colleges (Houston Community College, Wharton County Junior College, San Jacinto College, Lone Star College, Lee College, Alvin Community College, and Blinn College).

“The demand for teachers is high in Houston – our region employs more teachers than the state of Tennessee,” explains Carlos Villagrana, education program officer. “We want Greater Houston to be the blueprint for a teacher workforce model that engages stakeholders across the region, and the Educator Preparation Partnership Pathways initiative is a promising opportunity to make that goal a reality.”

Learn more about US Prep’s insight on what it will take to support community college transfers in becoming well-prepared teachers here.