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Walton Family Foundation Supports Traditional Colleges of Education, Diverse Teacher Pipelines Across the Country

April 14, 2019
$1.8 million to support the recruitment and training of more than 230 diverse new teachers at Bank Street College of Education, Marian University and New York University

The Walton Family Foundation today announced $1.8 million in new funding to support traditional colleges of education that are incorporating best practices in efforts to recruit, train and increase the diversity of future teachers. The teacher preparation programs at Bank Street College of Education, Marian University and New York University are utilizing emerging, proven trends in teacher development. All programs will prepare teachers to serve students with diverse and varied learning needs, including a focus on students with special needs and English language learners.

“Our teachers deserve training that prepares them to make an impact from day one,” said Walton Family Foundation K-12 Education Director Marc Sternberg. “Because these programs will recruit diverse educators, and provide hands-on training that we know works, our students, schools and communities will benefit.”

The teacher preparation programs share common characteristics, including their utilization of the residency model, which emphasizes practical experience, allowing teachers-in-training to spend significant time learning alongside and getting feedback from veteran educators in classrooms and schools. Research validates that preparation programs with hands-on practice in a real classroom produce more effective teachers1 who stay in the profession longer and strengthen schools over time.2

Teacher candidates in the two-year Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Residency Program at Bank Street’s Graduate School of Education will combine rigorous coursework with a year-long clinical residency in high-performing public charter or district schools in New York City. At Marian University in Indianapolis, participants in the redesigned Klipsch Educators College will complete four years of rigorous, competency-based coursework with hands-on classroom experience each year, culminating with a year-long clinical residency in a high-poverty school. NYU’s Steinhardt Teacher Residency Program will use its “gradual release model” with partner schools to support resident interns throughout the year. All programs will help ensure aspiring teachers gain substantial classroom teaching experience so they can feel fully confident about becoming educational leaders in their own classrooms after graduation.

“Teacher residencies are a proven strategy for diversifying the teaching profession," said National Center for Teacher Residencies Founder and CEO Anissa Listak. NCTR has helped launch more than 35 residencies in 17 states. "Last year, 55% of the residents training at our partner programs were people of color. Policymakers recognize the residency model as an effective way to develop and retain great teachers of color for high-need schools."

Support from the Walton Family Foundation will also help prepare teachers to meet the needs of all learners, including students with special needs and English language learners. The belief that all students can learn at high levels too often stops short of including students with disabilities. These students, who make up about 13% of public school enrollment,3 are dramatically underserved by the current system of schools. Research shows that with the right accommodations and support, the overwhelming majority of these students can meet the same achievement standards as other students.4

To help support the high-quality education of diverse learners and the teachers who work with them, Bank Street’s newly created TESOL residency program will train all teacher candidates to address the intellectual, linguistic and emotional strengths and needs of students learning English. All teacher candidates enrolled in the Steinhart Teacher Residency at NYU will be prepared to serve students with special needs and English language learners. The program trains its residents in methods of instruction and pedagogy that allow them to teach and reach all students with varying needs in any context and therefore better support all students who enter their classrooms.

“The classrooms of today look much different than they did just a decade or two ago. Today, the vast majority of students with disabilities spend most of their day in general education classrooms, and yet many teachers have told us that they feel unprepared to instruct them well,” said National Center for Learning Disabilities CEO Lindsay Jones. “That can be discouraging, but there is good news: the very strategies that allow teachers to reach students with learning or attention issues—for example, universal design for learning and multi-tier systems of support—are the same strategies that can help all students succeed. By changing how we prepare teachers and ensuring they have the knowledge, skills and mindsets that will allow students with unique learning and attention needs to succeed, we will improve the educational experience for all students.”

Future cohorts of these three programs will be two times as diverse, on average, as the current national teaching workforce.5 More than half of all teacher candidates enrolled in Bank Street’s TESOL residency program will identify as people of color and all will have studied a language other than English. Twenty-five percent of teacher candidates at Marian University’s Klipsch Educators College will be people of color, as will at least 45% of teacher candidates enrolled in New York University’s Steinhardt Teacher Residency.

Further, at Marian University, the foundation’s investment supports the creation of a loan forgiveness program for teacher candidates of color. Students’ loans are completely forgiven after successfully completing their studies and teaching in a high-poverty Indianapolis school for two years post-graduation. Over just two years, the loan forgiveness program has allowed Klipsch Educators College to increase new student diversity from 7.5% to 25%.

“It is the responsibility of caring and concerned adults to ensure that all children, regardless of their genetic code or their ZIP code have access to the skills, experiences, and relationships needed to be successful—in school and in life. Educators who understand that a good teacher is a culturally competent teacher are critical to success,” said National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director David J. Johns. “The National Black Justice Coalition applauds the investment of the Walton Family Foundation to support colleges of education committed to recruiting, training, and supporting a diverse teaching workforce—one that reflects the diversity in our schools, communities, and country. We look forward to supporting efforts to ensure that all educators have the skills and are supported in creating classrooms and schools where all students thrive."

Since 2015, Walton Family Foundation grants have supported efforts to recruit and train more than 5,300 teachers across the country.

About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. The children and grandchildren of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2018, the foundation awarded more than $595 million in grants in support of these initiatives. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

[1] “Teacher Preparation and Student Achievement” 2008 (National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research) 26 (accessed March 3, 2019).
[2] “A Different, More Durable Model” 2018 (Hunter College Urban Teacher Residency Project) 7 (accessed March 18, 2019).
[3] “Children and Youth With Disabilities,” 2018 (National Center for Education Statistics) (accessed June 15, 2018).
[4] “Graduation Requirements for Students with Disabilities: Ensuring Meaningful Diplomas for All Students” 2013 (Achieve, National Center on Educational Outcomes) 3 (accessed June 15, 2018).
[5] “The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce,” 2016 (Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education) 1 (accessed March 3, 2019).