With a start-up grant from the Abell Foundation and the New Schools Venture Fund, the Urban Teacher Center (UTC) was founded in September, 2009, creating a new model to train and certify highly effective teachers in Baltimore and Washington, DC. UTC has developed and implemented an unprecedented teacher training plan that links program completion to student performance results. UTC’s preparation program requires applicants to make a four-year commitment: an intensive residency year, followed by a three-year teaching commitment in a high-needs urban public school. In order to receive full certification, residents must pass through several gates, all tied to their ability to have an impact on student performance. UTC’s alternative teacher preparation programs represent a marked departure from traditional schools of education teacher preparation programs, as well as alternative certification programs like Teach For America. It has received Maryland State Department of Education approval for its non-university-based master’s degree program.
UTC now licenses teachers in pre-K to Grade 5 in general and special education, as well as grades six to 12 in English and mathematics, and has plans to add science to its licensing program. All UTC teachers receive a master’s degree from Lesley University in Special Education, as well as their individual area certifications. Over time, UTC-trained teachers are expected to be among the most expert and results-oriented in the nation, leading the public case for better teacher preparation and educator accountability.
Entering its fifth year, UTC has prepared 125 teachers in Baltimore, and more than 150 teachers in Washington. To date, UTC boasts the highest retention rate for all teacher pipelines in Baltimore City: more than 50 percent of UTC teachers have entered their fifth year of teaching. UTC is currently in the midst of a campaign to triple the number of teachers it produces.