Educator Preparation

District/Prep Partnerships

Strong partnerships yield strong first-year teachers.

DESE is committed to ensuring that every child in Massachusetts, especially students who need the most, have access to effective teachers and leaders. One promising strategy to improve our teacher preparation is to build close formal partnerships between our prep programs and our school districts.

Benefits to Partnerships

Strong partnerships mutually benefit the prep program, the school district and the first-year teacher.

For the first-year teacher, the number of variables is dramatically reduced. The culture is familiar. The students are familiar. He or she has already established productive mentoring relationships with colleagues and administrators. Most importantly, he or she has been trained to address the specific needs of the district.

For the district, they have the ability to hire teachers who have already proven themselves in their classrooms, thus improving both the impact of their new teachers and the probability of their retention.

For the prep program, they improve the quality of their students' practicum experiences and establish a stable pipeline of employment for their completers.

Expectations for Sponsoring Organizations

During Formal Review, program approval is dependent on meeting the following partnership criteria:

  1. Sponsoring Organization responds to the needs of PK–12 districts/schools.
  2. PK–12 partners make contributions that inform Sponsoring Organization's continuous improvement efforts.
  3. Partnerships improve experience for preparation candidates.
  4. Partnerships positively impact the outcomes of PK–12 students.
  5. Sponsoring Organization evaluates partnerships on an ongoing basis, sustains those that are effective, and takes steps to improve those that are not.

DESE uses an outcomes-based review model. In short, we expect every prep program to be able to demonstrate that their partnerships are not only strong, but are continually improving. DESE aids these continuous improvement efforts by annually surveying Hiring Principals and Supervising Practitioners and sharing those data with individual programs.

Ongoing Projects

DESE has supported two projects to improve the quality of partnerships in the Commonwealth.

ProjectScope and Details
Student Teacher Partnership Consortium The 2016-17 Student Teacher Partnership Consortium convened three ed prep/district partners into a professional learning network to focus on developing partnerships that promoted high-quality training, development, and support of teacher candidates through well-coordinated student teaching placements.

Partnership Consortium Objectives:
  • Promote partnership models based on student teacher placements that other Massachusetts districts and sponsoring organizations can emulate
  • Promote more intentional recruitment and placement of student teachers in high need classrooms
  • Promote higher rates of employment and teacher retention, particularly in high needs districts
  • Emphasize the impact of high-quality feedback in advancing teacher candidates' practice
  • Focus training and support towards Supervising Practitioners, and districts to set a high bar for serving as a supervising practitioner

Learn more about Building and Sustaining a Comprehensive Student Teaching Partnership and download the Student Teaching Partnership Toolkit.

Partnership Innovation Fund Some of the Commonwealth's strongest partnerships began with seed funding. To spearhead innovative and impactful work, DESE offered grants to new or existing partnerships between prep organizations and school districts that demonstrate potential. Applicants proposed specific partnership projects with clear objectives, scope, interim and summative outcome goals, sustainability plan, and budget. Grant amounts varied accordingly. The grant period ran from January 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.

Additional Resources

Download PDF Document
Formal Review Advisory: Partnerships Domain
View HTML Page
Partnership Toolkit
Download Word Document
District Pipeline Advisory
Download Word Document
Status of the Educator Workforce (December 2013)
Download Word Document
10-year Workforce Demand Study (published by AIR in collaboration with ESE)
View HTML Page
Statewide Educator Preparation Employment Data (Edwin Analytics)
View External Link
Ensuring High-Quality Teacher Talent (published by Ed First)
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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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