is a partnership among Chesterfield County Public Schools, Hanover County
Public Schools, Henrico County Public Schools, Richmond Public Schools, and
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Education. Established in
2001, META's mission is to enhance teaching quality in the metro-Richmond area
by identifying needs, opportunities, and resources for strategic professional
development with the goal of improving student learning by improving the
preparation, effectiveness, and retention of high-quality teachers.
The META Planning Council
consists of the staff development directors or other designated representatives
from partner school divisions, the VCU Clinical Faculty Coordinator, the Chair
of the VCU Department of Teaching and Learning, and the director of the VCU
Center for Teacher Leadership.
In 2009, META received the very first Dr. Shirley S. Schwartz Urban Education Impact Award. This award is given annually by the Council of Great City Schools and the Council of Great City Colleges of Education to recognize the partnership with the greatest impact on urban education.
The Ohio Department of Education
sent a site visit team to Richmond on March 23, 2010, to learn more about the
work of META which is seen as a national model of collaboration between higher
education and K-12 school systems. We also
have been visited and/or contacted by universities in the U.S. and Scotland who
are seeking more effective K-12 partnerships.
Since 2001, VCU has secured more than $13 million dollars to advance the
work of the META partnership.
Current META Projects Include:
National Board Candidate Support Program
program for teachers seeking National Board Certification. Conducted by the Center for Teacher Leadership (CTL) at the VCU School of
Education, the program provides teachers in the META school divisions with
structured opportunities to clarify each aspect of the certification process
and a network of support as they strive to meet the highest standards
established for the profession. CTL also supports a National Board Candidate
Support Listserv where candidates can network with other candidates and
National Board Certified Teachers across the state.
VCU Clinical Faculty Program
Clinical Faculty Program identifies exemplary K-12 teachers who want to work
with VCU pre-service teachers and provides them with professional development
to become effective mentors. To earn
the Clinical Faculty designation, teachers in the META divisions must submit a
written application, complete five modules of training, and submit a portfolio,
including a video or audio of a coaching session, to demonstrate their skill as
The Liberal Studies in Elementary Education (LSEE) major offers a strong
liberal studies curriculum that targets core knowledge across the four major
subject areas represented in Virginia’s Standards of Learning (mathematics,
sciences, social studies, and language arts/communication) while also providing
a university-level skill set and knowledge base. Throughout the undergraduate program, contact
with area schools and young learners is programmed into service and
experiential learning venues. The VCU College
of Humanities and Sciences recognizes it as a priority degree program with its
own director and budget.
Alternate Licensure for Special Education
A program designed for instructional assistants
with at least a bachelor’s degree to earn a Virginia collegiate (K-12)
professional license in special education, general curriculum. The alternative licensure
program is now known at the META Special Education Program for Instructional
Assistants (META-SEPIA). Instituted in
2002, the program was revised in 2008 to meet VDOE licensure regulations for
special education, general curriculum and expanded to include paraprofessionals
from other Region 1 divisions.
Beginning Teacher Advisor (BTA) Program:
Completed in 2010 This project was based on the Santa Cruz New Teacher Center
mentoring model, the BTA Program provided
intensive, weekly support for two years to 347 beginning teachers in 62
high-need schools in the META school divisions.
Santa Cruz-trained BTAs (full-time mentors) collected observation data
and used formative assessment tools to help beginning teachers analyze their
practice. The model is based on the belief that learning to teach is a
career-long developmental process that involves a continuous cycle of planning,
teaching, and reflecting. Evaluation of
the program included an experimental design testing the effectiveness of
the BTA Program vs. traditional mentoring models.
Our research indicates six key components that must be present in order to ensure a high quality induction program:
- A highly competitive selection process. Mentors are carefully selected using a clear, open process which carefully articulates the mentor role. Stakeholders in the process include district, site, and university personnel.
- High quality training. A summer orientation and ongoing Santa Cruz Mentor Trainings in years one and two combine with a summer seminar to provide strong support for new mentors.
- Ongoing professional support. Mentors participate in a learning community called Friday Forum that supports their use of formative assessment tools and mentoring protocols.
- Time to coach. Mentors need time for intensive coaching with each beginning teacher. The focus for this collaborative partnership is on improving instruction.
- Formative assessment tools. The New Teacher Center Formative Assessment system includes a set of mentoring tools and protocols to guide the mentor and beginning teacher in gathering and analyzing data of practice in order to improve classroom instruction and student achievement.
- Confidentiality. A strong, trusting relationship is a critical element in a successful collaborative partnership, allowing the mentor and new teacher to focus on advancing the classroom teacher's practice and improving student achievement.
High-Q Para Program:
Completed in 2005 was a program to assist instructional aides in the META divisions to meet
the federal “highly qualified” definition.
500 paraprofessionals were pre-tested and provided either a refresher or
in-depth course to prepare them to pass the ParaPro examination.
Both the BTA and Clinical Faculty training are
based on the Santa Cruz New Teacher Center mentor teacher training. The Center for Teacher Leadership (CTL) at
VCU School of Education is one of only two national training sites licensed to
conduct this highly successful and widely recognized mentoring system.