Researcher Megan Hopkins Presents at DC Briefing on Access to Effective Teachers

Researcher Megan Hopkins Presents at DC Briefing on Access to Effective Teachers

Megan Hopkins

SESP research fellow Megan Hopkins gave a presentation recently at a Washington, D.C., policy briefing on “Student Access to Prepared and Effective Teachers.” Her presentation stressed the importance of residency programs for teacher preparation, as well as the need to prepare teacher candidates for teaching in their local contexts.

The December 8 briefing was sponsored by the office of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in partnership with the Coalition for Teaching Quality. It addressed such topics as why teacher qualifications and effectiveness matter; the impact of policies on minority students, English language learners, students with disabilities, and students in rural communities; parents’ right to information; and teacher recruitment and preparation. Sanders is sponsoring a bill related to establishing higher standards for the definition of a "highly qualified teacher."

At the briefing, Hopkins described teacher residency programs that include residencies in experienced teachers’ classrooms combined with course work, community participation and ongoing mentorship. She also stressed the importance of preparing teachers to work with English learners. "My own research indicates the instructional benefits of specialized language training for teachers,” says Hopkins.

She began her career in education as a bilingual elementary school teacher and Teach for America corps member. “At the time I began to wonder what other pathways might have better prepared me to teach in my specific context and community,” she says. A policy brief she wrote for Phi Delta Kappan outlined how a residency program for TFA could “facilitate corps members' understandings of their communities and promote longer tenure in the classroom.”

Hopkins, who later worked with UCLA's teacher education program, described the ways in which the university’s residency program prepares teachers for their local contexts. Candidates participate in a yearlong residency in the classroom while taking courses that link theory and practice. They also complete an integrated language acquisition course and participate in projects in the school communities. “The program prepares teachers for their local contexts,” she notes. 

She voiced support for the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant program, which is the only federal program that funds teacher residency programs. “Unfortunately, funding for this program is decreasing, moving away from residencies and toward other forms of alternative certification, like Teach For America,” she says.

Parents, students, researchers, policy advocates and lawyers were represented on the panel for the briefing. Other panelists were Maribel Heredia, plaintiff in Renee v. Duncan; Eric Gonzalez, education policy advocate for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Shayla Johnson, 12th-grade student union representative, Overbrook High School, Philadelphia; Leslie T. Fenwick, dean of the School of Education, Howard University; Julian Vasquez Heilig, assistant professor of educational policy, University of Texas, Austin, TX; Laura Kaloi, public policy director, National Center for Learning Disabilities; Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president, Utah Education Association; and John Jackson, President and CEO, Schott Foundation for Public Education 

At SESP, Hopkins is a postdoctoral researcher working with professor professor James Spillane. She is also a research associate for the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the UCLA.

Hopkins’s research focuses on the preparation of teachers of English learners and the implementation of federal and state policies for racial and linguistic minority students. She is the author of Forbidden Language: English Learners and Restrictive Language Policies. She received her PhD in education from UCLA and holds an MEd in international education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 12/15/11