Today, approximately 25% of all young people and approximately 40% of African American and Hispanic youth do not graduate from high school. 2.1 million American students attend low-performing high schools where the odds of graduating are less than 60%. The data reflects a persistent gap in academic achievement that continues to separate low-income, minority students from their more affluent peers.
Impact of Effective Teachers
In the past decade, research has conclusively shown that this gap can be overcome by placing effective teachers in schools in which the lowest performing students attend. In fact, we now know that the single most important school-based factor influencing student achievement is the effectiveness of the teachers—not classroom size, not curriculum, not even the school itself. And yet, research has shown that schools serving minority and poor students are far less likely to be staffed with effective teachers. Despite clear evidence of the importance of effective teachers in addressing the needs of underserved, at-risk students, universities and traditional teacher preparation programs are not doing enough to draw young people towards a career in education or even adequately train those that do.
Breakthrough Teaching Residency
Breakthrough’s award-winning teaching residency for undergraduate students is the largest pre-professional teacher-training program in the country. Unlike most residency programs that work with post-college or mid-career candidates, Breakthrough intentionally recruits, trains, and supports students while they’re still in college. This strategy, delivered for 35 years, has succeeded because the teaching experience occurs at an early and critical time in a young person’s life: during the formative college years. The result is an enduring and unique experience that reaffirms (and often reveals) a desire to enter education, become a teacher, and lead.
Research-Based Teacher Training
Our research-based teacher-training model is built on a common model of instruction aligned with a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to student achievement. Using the collaborative lesson study practices of high-performing countries and the most recent research about the pivotal role of structured practice in teacher training, the Breakthrough teacher-training model innovates on the residency model more commonly used in medicine by providing teaching fellows with supervised teaching practice before delivering lessons to students followed by daily feedback from instructional coaches. The distance between preparation and performance, observation and feedback is dramatically shortened to ensure coaching is timely, specific and actionable, resulting in almost instantaneous, measurable improvements in performance.
Intensive Support for Breakthrough Teaching Fellows
Breakthrough’s instructional coaches complete 20 hours of pre-summer training, which many have described as “hands-down the best training I have ever received.” As professional teachers, instructional coaches observe, articulate, refine, and improve the techniques of aspiring teachers in a collaborative environment, enabling an exceptional platform for self-reflection and the evaluation of their own pedagogical practices. Rather than teaching students directly, instructional coaches oversee lesson plan development, classroom management, and task analysis. They mentor and guide teaching fellows over the course of the summer providing tips, constructive criticism, ongoing feedback, and reports on each teacher’s performance.
Pathway into Careers in Education
To support our expanding cohort of alumni and to create a stronger pipeline into careers in education, Breakthrough has formalized partnerships with top teacher-training organizations. Our Pipeline Partners are deeply engaged with our alumni and invest in their success through joint workshops, panel discussions, open houses, and of course, career opportunities. Breakthrough is the only collaborative affiliation for each of these different groups. Through a highly selective network of partners, we prepare and help place our Fellows into these leading residencies and accreditation programs in 29 states in the US. To be invited to join our network, partners must be aligned with our goals and mission, have a similar pedagogical approach, and be highly regarded within the field of education.