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Clark University teacher education program garners state’s highest distinction

Adam Institute for Urban Teaching ‘exceeds high bar’; demonstrates model performance
July 20, 2017

The Clark University Master of Arts in Teaching program has been granted “approval with distinction” by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Approval with distinction” is the highest level of approval granted by the state. The program, run through Clark’s Adam Institute for Urban Teaching and School Practice, includes all of the programs for Massachusetts teacher licensure offered at Clark.

Clark University’s Master of Arts in Teaching program has the added distinction of being the first and thus far only program in Massachusetts to achieve the highest level of approval. The designation recognizes a program that has “exceeded the already high bar for approval, demonstrating exemplary performance” and are “operating at such a high level that it could serve as a model for other providers in the state or nation.”

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Thomas Del Prete, director of the Adam Institute for Urban
Teaching and School Practice at Clark University, stands in
a classroom at the University Park Campus School. Jeremy
Shulkin '07, M.A.T. '08 is teaching in the background.

“This evaluation is a testament to the tremendous support and enormous contributions of the Adam Institute and Hiatt Center at Clark, over many years, the close collaboration of our school partners in Worcester’s Main South, and dedicated Clark students who aim to make a difference through teaching,” said Adam Institute Director Thomas Del Prete. “It should fortify our efforts to prepare teachers worthy of the kids in our neighborhood and partner schools, and beyond.”

To earn this distinction, Clark’s program underwent a rigorous and comprehensive approval process over a period of 16 months that included a three-day site visit. The process examined the program through various lenses, including school partnerships, instruction, field-based experiences, candidate experience, and organization. The on-site visiting team used surveys and interviews with a variety of stakeholders, including school personnel, current students, and alumni, in making its assessment. Where, according to state personnel, most programs in the state earn two or three commendations in this process, Clark’s program received 17.  

This exceptional approval reflects Clark’s longstanding commitment in support of the highest quality of education in its Main South neighborhood and beyond, that led to the development of University Park Campus School, a national model, and partnerships with other Main South schools, and the exemplary Master of Arts in Teaching program, in collaboration with the Worcester Public Schools

Clark graduates approximately 30 to 35 students from its Master of Arts in Teaching program each year. Most graduates commit to teaching in Worcester and other urban settings. Close to 90 graduates from the past 10 years have positions in the Worcester Public Schools, including more than 50 practicing in partner schools in Worcester’s Main South, according to Andrea Allen, the program administrator.

Expressing her support for the Clark program, Maureen Binienda, Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools, said, “I would hire all of them (program graduates) if I could.”

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) have made educator effectiveness a priority in order to educate all students for college and careers and to close achievement gaps. The educator preparation team's mission is to guarantee preparation results in effective teachers ready to support student success. ESE entrusts sponsoring organizations to achieve this goal.

In a letter to Clark President David Angel, Jeffrey Wulfson, Acting Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, wrote, “On behalf of the Commonwealth, I would like to take this opportunity to commend Clark University for its demonstrated commitment to effectively preparing educators for Massachusetts’ schools.”

Pictured at top is Adam Teaching Fellow Kyle Pahigian ’06, M.A.T. ’07 in a classroom at South High School in Worcester. She teaches math at the University Park Campus School as well as in Clark’s M.A.T. program.