Newswise — The squeeze on student teaching placement options has grown tighter as Ohio K-12 teachers prepared to be evaluated on the basis of student test scores, and increasingly balked at turning their classrooms over to college students.

“If teachers are measured on test scores, they feel they need to own those scores and every minute of instruction leading up to the tests,” said Karen Kaye, Dean of the Baldwin Wallace University School of Education. “But that left teacher educators scrambling to place student teachers in classrooms in recent years.”

BW and Ohio Alliance Call for “Mutually Beneficial” ModelsThe shrinking number of schools willing to provide crucial clinical experience for teachers-in-training inspired a grassroots alliance of Ohio education stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, school boards, parents and teacher educators like BW, to take up the issue.

A Fall 2014 alliance report urged the development of improved models of student teaching to “benefit teachers and change the way they look at hosting a student teacher, making the arrangement one that is highly desirable, rather than risky.”

Co-Teaching Allows for Customized InstructionOn the heels of helping to lead that discussion, BW is currently piloting a co-teaching model, borrowed from special education, that provides a clear benefit to student performance.

“Before BW turned to this model, we went to our K-12 partners and asked, ‘What do you need?,’” said Kaye. “The ability to customize instruction to meet the diverse challenges and needs of students was at the top of the list.”

BW’s model places teams of 3-4 co-teaching BW students at one grade level for an entire school year, allowing for flexible student grouping and a more personalized approach than a single classroom teacher can implement alone.Early Evaluations Show a Focus on Student LearningAs the pilot nears an end, early evaluations are positive. Teachers suggest building in more planning time, but the collective feedback reflects an enthusiastic endorsement of the mutual benefits for both student teacher and mentor teacher.

“From the start we noticed the small group interaction making a difference for the students,” said Lauryn Fougerousse ’15, who is part of the pilot at Brook Park Memorial Elementary School in Berea and preparing for May graduation from BW. “The students have multiple hands, eyes, ears and support to help their learning, and as teachers, we have multiple methods to choose from within the co-teaching model.”

‘How am I going to do this without you next year?’Kaye adds, “One student who shared her experience at a state conference in March reported that her mentor teacher already has said, ‘How am I going to do this without you next year?’”

In fact, BW is receiving inquiries from other school districts asking to participate in the future . With Cleveland State University exploring the model and sharing the cost of training with BW, it appears co-teaching is an approach that is poised to gain traction and to provide important new ingredients to the student teaching equation.

About Baldwin Wallace University Baldwin Wallace University, founded in 1845, was one of the first colleges to admit students without regard to race or gender. An independent, coeducational university of 4,500 students, BW offers coursework in the liberal arts tradition in more than 60 academic areas. Located in Berea, 12 miles from downtown Cleveland, BW offers students the cultural, educational and business advantages of a major metropolitan area.