The Extended Teacher Education Program
Melody Shank, Julie Canniff, and Flynn Ross
The Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP) at the University
of Southern Maine has received acclaim as an exemplary post-baccalaureate
teacher education program (Darling-Hammond, 2000). Known for its
foundation in strong school-university partnerships, the program
provides recent bachelor's degree recipients and career changers
the opportunity to learn to be teachers in a coherent nine-month
program. The program combines an extensive internship with graduate
level coursework through which interns develop the skills and
understandings for teaching in increasingly demanding school contexts.
The program's strength is founded on the university and area schools'
commitment to continuous renewal and excellence.
When ETEP was initiated in 1989, USM's College of Education and
Human Development took a bold and controversial step. ETEP replaced
a large well-established, conventionally organized undergraduate
elementary teacher education program and several smaller secondary
programs, all of which provided the university a steady flow of
tuition revenue. The change was inspired by teacher education
faculty and superintendents from Southern Maine school districts
who collaboratively studied the prevailing ideas about teacher
education and the needs of area school districts. During the study,
superintendents claimed that USM teacher candidates were not adequately
prepared for the demands of the reforms underway in area schools.
They concluded that ETEP, a much smaller post-baccalaureate program,
would produce more rigorously trained teachers who had strong
content knowledge connected to learning standards, an emerging
teaching philosophy, and the ability to continuously examine their
teaching practices. More importantly, as a school-university partnership,
the program would be rooted in the practices and needs of schools
as well as the most current educational theories. The context
for preparing high quality teachers would therefore become a site
for continuous responsive and collaborative inquiry.
The structure of the program ensures that school and university-based
educators, called site coordinators, together direct all aspects
of the program for a cohort of 15-25 interns in each of the partnership
sites. The cohort at each site provides interns a context for
social learning and support, as well as a means to learn the facets
of collegiality. Many of the courses in the 33-credit graduate
program are taught by school-based instructors at the school sites
where interns learn alongside exemplary practicing teachers (mentors)
in two semester-long internships. The site coordinators and mentors
coach the interns in their classroom placements, and strive to
link theories with classroom practice.
Changes Over Time
One of the strengths of partner school-based teacher education
is captured in the program's ability to be responsive to schools'
practices and needs. As ETEP has developed and changed, the inquiry
process employed to initiate ETEP _ school and university-based
educators working together to learn in and from their practice
about how to best educate teachers, has continued, and is still
alive today. This process enables ETEP and USM's other initial
teacher certification program faculty to ground their work in
common principles and practices and adjust the program to meet
the needs of ever-changing educational contexts in the partner
sites and the state. Over the past 15 years, this collaborative
inquiry process has resulted in broadened and changed partner
school participation, a deepened commitment to common principles
and practices, a more coherent experience for interns, and, most
recently, expanded program options.
Two years after the initial cohort in Wells/Ogunquit, ETEP expanded
to four additional partner school sites: Gorham, Portland, Yarmouth
and Fryeburg. Later, three of these sites grew to include additional
school districts - the Yarmouth site became Casco Bay and included
the Falmouth and Cumberland-North Yarmouth school districts; the
Wells/Ogunquit site became SWYK, including the districts in Sanford,
York and Kittery; and the Fryeburg site became Western Maine and
added two other rural districts. Only Portland and Gorham remained
single district partner sites. By 2000, ETEP offered K-8, 7-12,
and K-12 teacher certification in five partnerships sites and
13 school districts. The enrollment in the program grew from 14
interns in the pilot cohort to between 90 and 115 interns across
the five sites.
The shape of the partnerships has changed as the resources and
commitments of the districts and university have waxed and waned.
After several years of expansion, sites were again reconfigured
in 2003 due to financial retrenchment at the university and new
program directions in some of the school districts and the USM
Teacher Education Department. The Casco Bay site was closed; Western
Maine returned to its original K-8 district in Fryeburg and was
combined with K-8 schools in Gorham; a new secondary site combining
existing middle and high schools in Western Maine and Gorham was
created to focus on the needs of secondary school reform and teacher
preparation; and the Portland site became a partner district for
not only 9-month ETEP, but other USM teacher education programs.
Common Principles and Practices
During the period of site expansion in the 1990s, the faculty
worked diligently to develop common principles and practices to
provide coherence and focus across all cohorts. In 1993, eleven
outcomes were outlined as the focus for interns' learning and
as the basis for the performance-based assessment system that
faculty later developed. Today, twelve teaching standards create
the backbone for all USM teacher education programs. These standards,
based on the INTASC standards include the following dimensions
- Knowledge of Child/Adolescent Development and Principles of
- Knowledge of Subject Matter and Inquiry
- Instructional Planning
- Instructional Strategies
- Diversity & Cultural Responsiveness
- Beliefs About Teaching and Learning
- Collaboration and Professionalism
- Professional Development
- Classroom Management
Two of these standards have been revised in the past five years.
The current performance-based assessment system, used to determine
interns' competence as beginning teachers, was developed to provide
a common set of evidence across all sites of interns' performance.
By the end of the program interns demonstrate their competence
of the 12 standards through these "shared assessments:"
a teaching philosophy or stance, a student case study or set of
student profiles, a curriculum unit, written reflections on teaching,
observations and assessments of teaching performance, and a culminating
portfolio/exhibition. ETEP site coordinators, course instructors,
and in some cases, mentors have periodically come together to
define common criteria for the shared assessments. Most recently,
the school and university-based coordinators revised three of
the shared assessments and came to a renewed agreement about the
purpose of the culminating portfolio/exhibition.
As an additional means to maintain coherence across ETEP sites,
and ultimately across programs, the faculty collaboratively identified
these five program commitments to ground all USM teacher education
- Integration of course curriculum with internship experiences,
as a means for fostering on-going dialogue between theory and
- Performance-based assessment of teaching standards
- Intensive mentored fieldwork
- Continued and strengthened partnerships with schools
- Cohort model for teaching candidates.
The faculty deems these features the foundation for program excellence,
and therefore all new programs developed in the past several years
have these commitments as their starting place.
New Program Options
In the past seven years, the Teacher Education Department has
increased access to teacher education for a broader audience of
candidates through several new program pathways. These new pathways
have been created in response to needs in particular school districts
and across the state for well-prepared teachers in particular
At the undergraduate level, in addition to the TEAMS program,
two pathways to initial teacher certification at the secondary
level have been developed. To provide greater opportunities for
mathematics majors interested in teaching, the USM mathematics
and teacher education departments jointly designed and now coordinate
a Secondary Mathematics Education program. The Math Education
interns, who graduate with a major in mathematics and have a solid
background in adolescent development and educational theories,
join an existing ETEP cohort during their final internship year.
These students demonstrate their teaching competence through the
same performance assessment system as ETEP interns, and enjoy
mentored classroom placements. A similar program for modern and
classical languages majors will be implemented in 2006.
Within ETEP, four new pathways address issues of access and the
teacher shortage in the region. In 2000, Newcomer ETEP, a two-year
program for linguistically and culturally diverse candidates,
was designed to meet the needs of the refugee and immigrant communities
in the Portland Public Schools. The Newcomer ETEP program was
designed to provide para-professionals within the school district
and aspiring teachers within the ethnic communities a supportive
teacher education program. In addition to the ETEP program standards,
Newcomer ETEP provides assistance for developing English language
skills, meeting standardized testing requirements, and understanding
the educational system and teaching in the United States.
In 2004, a 2-year version of ETEP for secondary candidates was
initiated to increase access to teacher education for those candidates
whose financial or life situations did not afford them the opportunity
to do the nine-month intensive program. The program increases
the options for those candidates in the shortage areas of mathematics,
science and world languages. It has the same program dimensions
and expectations as the nine-month program, but extends the coursework
over two academic years, and places interns in part-time internships.
The K-8 Unified ETEP option, designed primarily for education
paraprofessionals, seeks to "grow special education teachers
where they live" and prepare teachers to teach all students,
especially those with disabilities. The K-8 Unified ETEP option
is a two-year pathway to certification in both general and special
education, and a master's degree in special education.
The program is individualized to meet the specific work parameters
of interns within their school districts. This program challenges
conventional understandings of cohort-based teacher education
and classroom-based courses by providing the majority of course
work in an on-line format.
A similar unified approach to teacher certification at the secondary
level is also on the drawing board. The Unified Secondary ETEP
option, to begin in 2006, will provide interested candidates the
option to pursue certification in both a chosen content area and
7-12 special education, and a master's degree in special education
in a 3-year program. The program will target conditionally certified
teachers, paraprofessionals, and pre-service candidates. The intent
of this program is to meet the need for highly qualified secondary
educators in the state, who have a solid background in teaching
a specific subject and have highly honed skills for teaching the
diverse range of students in inclusive and standards-based secondary
With all of the changes that have occurred in ETEP over the years,
the fabric of the program has taken on many colors while retaining
its basic purposes and design. The faculty and partner school
districts continue to be committed to the qualities of an outstanding
teacher education program: a vivid portrait of good teaching;
articulated standards of teaching performance; intensive coached
field experiences; a strong curriculum grounded in knowledge of
students, learning theory and pedagogy; integration of the curriculum
with everyday teaching practices; strong partnerships; and performance
assessment (Darling-Hammond, 2000). The program remains strong
because the faculty continually revisits and fine-tunes the practice
of these commitments in the face of challenges and new ideas.
As it expects of its graduates, the faculty continues to learn
in and through its practices.
Darling-Hammond, L. (Ed.). (2000).
Studies of excellence in teacher education: Preparation at the
graduate level. Wash., D.C.: AACTE Publications.