UNC System launches coalition for early learning, literacy in teacher preparation

The University of North Carolina System recently announced the launch of the Early Learning and Literacy Impact Coalition, a group of five educator preparation programs across North Carolina focused on improving preschool and elementary teaching.

The coalition includes Western Carolina University’s College of Education and Allied Professions; the education programs at sister UNC System schools UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Pembroke and Winston-Salem State University; and the education program at one private school, Elon University.

The network is the first community of practice to emerge from the work of the UNC System’s Educator Preparation Advisory Group. The advisory group comprises 20 leaders from across the state’s education preparation programs and preschool through 12th-grade public schools, charged with prioritizing and developing System-wide strategies and initiatives to improve teacher preparation in North Carolina.

“Too many of our students in North Carolina lack access to the educational opportunities they deserve,” said Julie Kowal, associate vice president for P-12 Strategy and Policy at the UNC System. “The success of our state’s efforts to expand early learning opportunities and early literacy will depend in large part on the skills and knowledge of the teachers that work with our youngest students. As the state’s largest single source of public school teachers, the University of North Carolina System is committed to supporting continuous improvement and innovation in the preparation of preschool and elementary educators.”

The Impact Coalition is a partnership between the UNC System Office and Deans for Impact, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming educator preparation through scientific evidence and leader-driven networks. Deans for Impact oversaw a competitive application process for the coalition across both public and private university-based educator preparation programs in North Carolina.

With support from the Deans for Impact team, administrators and faculty from the five educator preparation programs will convene throughout 2019 to explore how to incorporate insights from early learning science – particularly regarding the development of literacy, numeracy and student agency – into their preparation of teachers to lead birth through third-grade classrooms.

“North Carolina has long been recognized as a national leader in early childhood education, and one with a strong statewide educator preparation system,” said Benjamin Riley, Deans for Impact’s executive director. “With new initiatives such as the B3 Interagency Council and the UNC System’s Educator Preparation Advisory Group focusing attention on the power of effective preparation of preschool and elementary teachers, the voice and insights of deans and their faculty has never been more needed, or potentially more powerful.”

The Early Learning and Literacy Impact Coalition is made possible with support from SAS and the Belk Foundation. Learnings and recommendations from the coalition will be shared with the UNC System’s Educator Preparation Advisory Group and with faculty, staff and practitioners across educator preparation programs in North Carolina and the nation, as well.

Information provided by the UNC System