UofC Trains Teachers -- Without An Ed School


There is no education school at the University of Chicago, and no real interest in creating one.  But you can get training to become a teacher there through a small program called UTEP that is going to be profiled on WTTW Chicago Tonight this evening.

It's a small two year program that -- like many of the newer programs -- includes a substantial classroom component not just classes and theory.  (Think AUSL, not TFA.)

I'm trying to do get some basic programmatic data on how many graduates have gone through the program and where they're teaching.  In the meantime, if anyone has any experiences with the program or its graduates, let us know. 


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  • Clinical Experience Overview: The UTEP yearlong clinical internship occurs in two settings

  • How much $ does U of C get for doing this? How much poverty money are they taking away from our inner city public schol students and schools? Trust them not--it is a scam.

  • good for uc--let's see, all kids in uniform at the 2 Hyde Park schools--the charter chooses parents/kids (both very far from being labeld as inner city schools). Few special ed students, no non-english speakers. This featured showed?--LOW class size. Nowhere near 31-34 kids that are in our schools WITH special ed and nonenglish speaking students too in classes.
    How lucky for UC 'urban' teachers. The young white female teacher was a bit embarassing--sure hope she has long mentoring.

  • Ed Schools produce some of the worst teachers in the nation. It would be far better for college students to major or minor in a real discipline, then get their education credentials from a quality training program after they know something.

    This sounds like a step in the right direction to me.

  • good comments -- i'm eager to see the segment. meantime, here's some info from the folks who run the program:

    -To date, UTEP has graduated about 55 candidates and 86% of teach in CPS. Their three year retention numbers are 96 percent, they say.

    -They recently launched their secondary math and science certification and degree program and plan to be up to 50 candidates in the near future.

    -They are are a "residency-plus" model, which means a program that's two years in length. Teachers are in a classroom during all phases, and on their own the last summer before the start for real.

    If anyone knows more, or different, let us know.

    / alexander

  • is this an ISBE approved program. if there is no ed school then how would they be accredited or be able to certify teachers? strange no ed school but can certify teachers? someone should get a hold of isbe and see what this program actually does in regards to certification.

    from website

    Do you provide secondary education training?
    Yes. UTEP now has a program for high school teaching certification in math and biology, which is accepting applicants through July 1st, 2009, and which will launch in the fall of 2009. UTEP continues to provide Illinois K-9 teaching certification and an optional middle-school endorsement in subject matter.

    What if I am interested in the elementary program but I really hate math?
    If you are entering UTEP as a graduate student without a significant number of college level math courses, you may be asked to take a supplemental math course during the first year of the program. During the second year of the program, UTEP students take a class on the elements of math instruction with Professor Paul Sally.

  • CPS is a BAD employer to its employees (screwing with their pension, health insurance and optional 403b plans.) CPS treats teachers like chattle--does UC help their UTEP teachers deal with that? Also, will UTEP get these teachers jobs away from CPS since CPS is laying-off, letting go and 'honorably discharging' 100s and 100s of teachers. They are preparing teacher for NO EMPLOYMENT.

  • good point about things being very rough within CPS right now -- it's true. i'll ask what kinds of support and search is provided. FWIW, UTEP says that most of its teachers are NOT in charter schools. i can't confirm that -- but that's what they say.

  • here's the link to the video segment from last night, which is now online:


    / alexander

  • I can not comment on the numbers of ELL students in U of C charter schools, but I can on the number of students with disabilities. In June 2009 at the Carter Woodson branch there were 221 students of whom 33 were students with disabilities or 14.9%, at the Woodlawn high school branch there were 424 student of whom 55 had disabilities or 12.9%, at the Donoghue branch there were 334 students of whom 22 were students with disabilities or 6.6%, at U of C's oldest charter NKO there were 306 students of whom only 17 had disabilities or 5.6%.

    If we look at U of C as a network in June 2009 it enrolled 1,285 students of whom 127 had disabilities or 9.8% had disabilities. This compares with overall CPS data for June 2009 (including charters and contract schools)where there were 413,742 students of whom 53,720 had a disability or 12.9%. All of this data comes from court filings made by CPS to the US District Court.

    Based on this data I would have to say I do not agree with the statement posted that overall U of C schools have "few special ed" students. But It would be fair to say that Donoghue and NKO had relatively few students with disabilities. The U of C Donoghue branch and Doolittle School are close to each other, racial demographics are close to the same, but Doolittle has 9.6% students with disabilities far higher than U of C Donoghue.

    The issue gets even more complex when one examines the severity of disabilities in U of C charters compared to traditional CPS schools in proximity to these schools. Using that measurement U of C charter schools look worse in terms of equity.

    But in terms of training, U of C charters are a reasonably good site to start to train urban teachers. They get some urban experience without being overwhelmed by poor students from less than functional families. If you look at the better traditional teachers college programs in Chicago, they also do not want to send teachers in training to very challenging schools. For example Saint Xavier sent me as a young teacher, a long time ago, to then mostly white working class Kennedy H.S. as opposed to harder urban schools with more poor minority students. They had a policy of putting student teachers in schools they believed were more orderly. So what UTEP is doing is really nothing new in my opinion.

    Rod Estvan

  • How many of UTEPs students/teachers get let go? How many do they help face the reality that teaching in an urban seting s NOT for them? I bet very few==it is all about getting their special teachers through, not facing the reality that eveyone who goes through there program makes it in their program. How many go to schools NOT in the UC charter or performance schools? How many were/ are at Fenger? There is your real urban setting. And again, how much poverty money is UC taking from ANY CPS school each year for their programs. UC is not gratis! Someone answer that one.

  • About sped counts at U of C experimental schools and regular CPS schools: I would guess that the U of C experimental schools make it a point to refer, evaluate and deliver services to students with disabilities that impair their educational experience. On the other hand, I would guess that the regular CPS schools, while the schools do have a certain percentage/number of students with IEPs, likely seriously underserved students with disabilities simply by not referring or evaluating struggling students. So, I guess, almost all students with sped needs have IEPs in the U of C schools but the regular CPS students don't. Wild guess here.

  • I recently completed the Chicago Teaching Fellows program. We are not permitted to train or accept jobs in Charter Schools. Just wanted to clarify that because several people above seemed to confuse all ALT program with this program.

  • My professional contact with U of C Charter Schools is limited to the North Kenwood/Oakland (NKO) branch. This school from the one day I spent there several years ago seemed serious about determining if students who were falling behind did have some type of learning disability or other disability. I recall that NKO had hired their own psychologist to conduct evaluations because they were not particularly pleased with the CPS psychologists they had worked with in the past. So it is completely possible that there may be a lower percentage of students with disabilities who are not identified in U of C Charter Schools that should be identified than in traditional CPS schools. I think such a study would make for a great doctoral study.

    Rod Estvan

  • parents need help. rod email me.

    john kugler

  • thanks for all the excellent comments, critical and constructive.

    as a point of information, i'm told that just 14 of the 54 UTEP grads are in charters

    as for the lack of ed school, well that's as much a strength as a weakness if the teacher prep programs are as bad as everyone says.

    i'd really love to hear from some of the folks who've gone through or considered the program, or worked with the UTEP grads that are out there.

    first hand experience is always so helpful.

    / alexander

  • I am a graduate of UTEP and have been teaching in a Chicago Public School for four years now. I can attest to the quality of the program at the University of Chicago and its ability to train teachers for the urban environment. UTEP is one of the few programs that understands the challenges and complexities of teaching and holds teachers to high expectations to prepare them for the job. The structure of the program was outlined well on the Chicago Tonight episode, but I would like to address some of the other comments and concerns posted here.

    UTEP distinguishes itself from other programs in claiming that not anyone can become a good teacher. The program itself is rigorous: it has a meticulous application process, pushes its students academically and emotionally to see teaching as important and valuable work, and evaluates them constantly on their learning and application in the classroom. They set high standards for their teachers in terms of their knowledge of literacy instruction or other content area as well as their ability to reflect on their teaching, be creative, manage a classroom, collaborate, and be able to constantly improve and evolve as a teacher. Not everyone who is accepted graduates from the program. Those who do not only get certified but are dedicated to the work and have the most in-depth understanding of what good teaching is and should be.

    Graduates work at various public schools and charter schools in CPS. The program was not created solely to train teachers to work at the University

  • yet no one answers why UC takes poverty money from schools for programs?--this university has big $ and they take poverty money away from inner city public schools. shame.

  • I am a graduate from the first cohort of UTEP. First of all, to the "poverty money" question that District299Reader poses, I believe that a previous commentator clearly stated that U of C charter school are not receiving monies from CPS from the grants it received from the US Dept of Ed. Where are you getting this information? I would love to see how the numbers break down. I can tell you that, as someone who will be paying student loans for the rest of her life, it is certainly a very costly graduate program and we take out loans and apply to grants just like any other graduate student of any other program.

    The charter school is funded as every other charter school- in Illinois, that means that it is funded at 63% of their district counterparts- and they are completely public schools, meaning that anyone can apply and acceptance is through a public lottery. They also have attendance areas, meaning those in the immediate neighborhood have priority. As you can see, District299Reader, the schools are neither located in Hyde Park, nor do the schools hand "pick" their families. Many public schools around the country implement uniform rules, so I am not really sure what the issue is with that. It is true that while I was there my class size was 25 students while my class in a regular CPS school was 28 students.

    While I am no longer teaching in Chicago, this is my fifth year teaching in urban public schools. Because of my background as a first generation immigrant and my fluency in Spanish, I gravitate towards schools with high levels of recently immigrated families and ELL students. In Seattle, that meant a classroom with 10 different home languages and a poverty rate of 70%. To be honest, the UTEP program, during my years there, did not focus much on ELLs (that may have changed in the last 5 years), as their main focus was the population in the South Side and the charter schools, which was overwhelmingly African-American. However, in terms of classroom management, parent involvement, building classroom community, delivering high quality instruction (even if that meant creating your own curriculum) and high expectations for all students- these are all things I would have hopefully picked up along the way had I not been in the program, but thankfully I didn't have to leave that to chance. I struggled, I felt burnt out, I worked long hours like any other first year teacher, but I constantly received comments from veteran teachers shocked to find out I was in my first year of teaching. It also helped me to take a leadership role earlier in my career because I didn't feel like I was constantly drowning.

    I don't believe that UTEP is claiming to be the cure to all the ills of of CPS, but when graduates of the program are feeling successful and sticking to the teaching profession when so many are dropping out, I do believe that should be a reason to sit up, take notice, and see what they are doing differently.

  • I am also a graduate of UTEP and would like to share my personal experiences as an urban teacher who received training from UTEP. I can reframe the program but that

  • I am also a graduate of the UTEP program. I teach at a charter school in Englewood that serves low-income African-American students. I know there is often suspicious of the University of Chicago's motives because it has not always done good things for the surrounding south side communities, but in this case I think the criticism that is being leveled here is baseless.

    The University uses some of its resources to support the UTEP program. In no way does it take resources away from Chicago Public Schools or their students.

    We are trained to work in the varied settings of the Chicago Public Schools - with African-American children, with non-English-speakers, with children with special needs, and with children from low-income families. Because of the homogeneity of public schools in Chicago, the classrooms we work do not usually contain all of these populations simultaneously. My class is 100% African-American.

    As far as job prospects, we do not take jobs away from anyone else. We apply to schools and are hired by principals just like any other teacher candidate. Most of us have been able to find work because of the strength of our qualifications coming from a rigorous program. I have a degree in Mathematics so I was easily able to find positions teaching middle-school math.

    No teaching program can ever fully prepare anyone for the realities of teaching in inner-city schools. UTEP gave us enough preparation to allow us to begin the journey toward being good teachers, so that, through long experience, we will eventually become experts. I am in my third year of teaching and I feel that I am still growing. The UTEP program set the stage for that growth.

    Unlike many alternative certification programs, UTEP graduates do not see teaching as a temporary commitment - we see it as a lifelong career.

  • Disabled

    Within the myriad categories of students with disabilities we must
    realize that all such afflicted students are not the same. Drawing on my own
    experience as a history teacher Jim comes immediately to mind.
    He was blind as were the other 30 kids in his division. But he was in my Regular US History class. Jim came every day, took notes on his Braille Machine,
    Joined in discussions and was a joy to have in class. Of course some
    Accommodations were made for him but he wanted to learn not be pitied.
    Two large kids were deputized to get him out in case of a fire drill.
    All three had a serious blast when the siren went off.

    Now on the other hand there are disabled kids who wreak havoc all
    the time. Disturbed, angry, and violent, when I read that a school has
    9 or 10% disabled students in attendance it doesn

  • "One problem was the theft of all their food from cashier to table."

    Sick. Which students are the disabled ones, in that scenario? (sarcastic question!) The thieves.

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