SESP Offers New Certificate of Advanced Studies for Teachers

SESP Offers New Certificate of Advanced Studies for Teachers

instructional coaching

The teaching profession is rapidly changing, and today’s teachers need cutting-edge skills to guide students in the 21st century. Northwestern’s top-ranked School of Education and Social Policy will offer a new Certificate of Advanced Study to provide teachers with those skills.

Through a sequence of four courses, teachers will focus on advanced teaching topics such as instructional coaching, computational thinking and differentiation. Courses are offered in a variety of formats, including one-week intensives in the summer and online courses.

“The Certificate of Advanced Study provides important and relevant professional learning to teachers in a variety of topic areas,” says Timothy Dohrer, director of the Master of Science in Education Program. “Teachers are able to apply this learning to their work with students immediately, while also developing their own long-term skills as educators. These are not one-shot workshops but rather a sequence of related courses that will allow a teacher to delve into a topic over several months.”

The Certificate of Advanced Study is offered in these four areas:

  • Instructional Coaching
  • The Gifted
  • Next Generation Science Teaching
  • Computational Thinking (coming in 2016)

All of the certificate programs draw on cutting-edge research and deep experience in student and teacher learning. Instructors for the Certificate of Advanced Studies program have decades of leadership experience in professional development, instructional coaching and teacher evaluation.

Instructional Coaching
“Supporting teacher growth and development continues to be an essential issue for educators today. … Teachers need the support of experienced mentors — they need trained facilitators leading professional development,” says CAS faculty member Miriam Sherin, who researches the use of video in professional development. The certificate program will prepare educators who can help teachers use video as productive resource for reflection, who can ensure that classroom observation will be a positive learning opportunity for the teacher, and who can help teachers organize themselves into teacher learning communities.

The Gifted
The Gifted is designed to help certified teachers better meet the unique needs of gifted students in a variety of settings, including mixed-ability classrooms, schools for gifted students and gifted pull-out programs. Although the program's focus is on academically talented students, it also enables teachers and administrators to investigate approaches to curriculum planning and pedagogy that create a challenging learning environment for all students. The Gifted certificate benefits from the expertise of Northwestern’s highly respected gifted education and research center, the Center for Talent Development.

Next Generation Science Teaching
With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Illinois schools have committed to key shifts in K-12 science teaching and learning. NGSS emphasizes depth of disciplinary core ideas, a central role for science and engineering practices, and a commitment to coherence across years and between science strands. This project-based four-course sequence is designed to support teachers in adapting their classrooms to reflect the goals of NGSS. Three of the courses will be taught by Brian Reiser, an author of the Framework for K-12 Science that guided the development of NGSS and a consultant on tools to support NGSS implementation.

“I think the certificate programs provide a unique way for educators to develop expertise in some of the key areas of educational innovation today,” says Sherin, a faculty member in the program. “All four courses will have direct connections to teachers' classroom experiences or to their experiences as teacher leaders at their school sites.”

Teachers may apply certificate courses toward a master’s degree and endorsement in teacher leadership. The courses also add to teachers’ professional vitae and count towards CPDUs for licensure.

To offset tuition, every admitted candidate who registers for two summer courses will receive a fellowship to cover tuition for one of the classes. As a convenience for teachers, the certificate program offers one- or two-week summer classes on campus, some online courses and the chance to complete all four courses within one calendar year. School-year classes meet in the evening or on Saturdays.

Applications are open now for summer 2015. Apply online at Questions may be directed to the Master of Science in Education office at 847/467-1458 or

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 1/20/15