The Georgia Systemic Teacher Education Program (GSTEP) was a project that sought to increase achievement among prekindergarten through twelfth-grade students by improving the quality of their teachers. At the center of all GSTEP initiatives was a focus on evaluation, which helped to document and measure the effects of the program on the performance of preK-12 students and new teachers. Upon the accomplishment of its primary goals, the program ended in 2007.
GSTEP was federally funded through 2005 by a U.S. Department of Education Title II grant and was unique in that it represented a collaboration among university partners, nine preK-12 school systems, state partners, and three Regional Education Service Agencies (RESA). The higher education partners were the University of Georgia, Valdosta State University, and Albany State University; the school system partners were Barrow County Schools, Clarke County Schools, Cook County Schools, Dougherty County Schools, Jackson County Schools, Madison County Schools, Oconee County Schools, Oglethorpe County Schools, and Valdosta City Schools. The state partners were the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission; and the three RESAs were Coastal Plains, Northeast, and Southwest.
Through GSTEP’s work teacher education was redefined. No longer merely a major course of study confined to the third and fourth years of college, teacher educaton became a professional commitment beginning in the freshman year and continuing through the second year of full-time teaching. Two of the major accomplishments of GSTEP were the development of the Framework for Accomplished Teaching and the BRIDGE.
The Framework for Accomplished Teaching
The Framework for Accomplished Teaching describes the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for effective teaching and is divided into six elements: Content and Curriculum, Knowledge of Students and Their Learning, Learning Environments, Assessment, Planning and Instruction, and Professionalism. Each of the elements represents a component of effective teaching and was designed around seven core principles that can be thought of as a “DEPOSIT” the public makes in its teachers.
• Dispositions: teachers’ beliefs affect student achievement
• Equity: the public should hold high expectations for all teachers and students
• Process: becoming an effective teacher is a career-long growth and development process
• Ownership: teachers have responsibility for their own development
• Support: all educators have a responsibility to assist in their colleagues’ professional development
• Impact: when teaching is effective, there is evidence of an increase in student achievement
• Technology: the use of technology can improve the quality of students’ learning experiences and teachers’ professional development opportunities
In 2007 the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education recommended that the tenets of the Framework be implemented across the state. The Framework was also adopted by the Georgia Committee on Quality Teaching.
The BRIDGE (Building Resources: Induction and Development for Georgia Educators) is an Internet-based professional development and mentoring project created through GSTEP and designed to help teachers improve the quality of their professional practice. The BRIDGE tools undergo an independent review process and are subject to rigorous evaluation criteria. Teachers can find demonstration videos of effective teaching practice; articles and research summaries about best practices, instructional strategies, and classroom management techniques; and interviews with international experts on educational topics.
Educators locate BRIDGE resources by searching through numerous questions provided by beginning teachers or by conducting a traditional keyword search. A self-assessment based on the Framework for Accomplished Teaching also helps teachers find resources on specific areas of effective teaching in which they need additional professional development information.
BRIDGE continues to be available to all Georgia teachers at no charge.