About STEP UP Program

STEP UP (Student Teacher Educator Preparation: University Partnership) began as an initiative between the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District (HCISD) and the College of Education and P-16 Integration at UTRGV.

Members of both organizations met over the span of a year to design the program, which was first implemented in Fall 2016. STEP UP has since been expanded to the McAllen, Los Fresnos, and Brownsville school districts.

The impetus for the initiative stemmed from the idea of joining knowledge, expertise, and resources to develop a cadre of exemplary practitioners. Traditionally, educator preparation programs consist of courses addressing content and pedagogy, embedded or stand-alone field experiences, and student teaching. There has been some critique of the extent to which course work is linked to school-based experiences (NCATE, 2010). Existing research indicates that sustained, high quality clinical experiences are central to the preparation of effective teachers. Darling-Hammond (2012), among others, have discussed the need to integrate fieldwork with course work with an emphasis on developing content and pedagogical knowledge. Jacobs (2014) extended this discussion by arguing for the need to construct field experiences that are deliberate and designed to be collaborative and inquiry-based. Indeed, preservice teachers learn best when exposed to purposeful and focused representation of practice in various ways and provided with opportunities to analyze teaching practices and engage in practice teaching in multiple settings (Rust & Clift, 2015).

STEP UP is a project is a collaborative initiative focused on designing just such a program. It consists of a year-long field-embedded professional education model, bridging theory to practice and allowing teacher candidates to evolve into effective practitioners able to develop data driven practices, analyze student assessment data for instructional decision making, differentiate instruction to meet learner needs, and develop pedagogical skills, and habits of mind in authentic school settings.