Press Releases & Statements

Portland State, Ball State and Texas Christian Universities to Receive Joint AACTE-Southern Poverty Law Center Award

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(Feb. 6, 2012, Washington, D.C.) – The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and the Southern Poverty Law Center will present the AACTE-Southern Poverty Law Center Award for Exemplary Culturally Responsive Teacher Preparation, a special one-time honor, to Portland State University's Graduate School of Education. Second-place honors for the award will be shared by Ball State University's Schools Within the Context of Community Program and the Texas Christian University College of Education's Center for Urban Education. The awards, which recognize exemplary teacher preparation programs that use research on culturally responsive pedagogy in powerful learning experiences for teacher candidates, will be presented February 17 at AACTE's 64th Annual Meeting in Chicago.

A panel of reviewers selected Portland State for its Bilingual Teacher Pathway (BTP) program, which aims to fill critical shortages of bilingual education/ESL teachers in the Portland metropolitan area. The BTP program was developed through collaboration with local school districts that were experiencing rapidly diversifying student populations. Participants include culturally and linguistically diverse paraprofessionals who enter the program to return to their local school districts as certified, permanent teachers. Reviewers felt the curriculum and pedagogy in the BTP program courses modeled the kind of curriculum and pedagogy teachers should use with students to work toward high expectations of learning. Faculty members also have many recognized published works in culturally responsive pedagogy, suggesting a high level of knowledge among the diverse faculty who teach in the BTP program.

“The Bilingual Teacher Pathway program is a great source of pride for the Graduate School of Education and our district partners without whom this program could not exist,” said Randy Hitz, Ph.D., dean of Portland State's Graduate School of Education. “The teacher candidates and graduates of this program are positively impacting all the teacher education programs of the Graduate School of Education and the partnership schools in which they work.”

Ball State's Schools Within the Context of Community (SCC) program is being recognized for its flexibility to be used in many educator preparation programs, regardless of content focus. The SCC program focuses on one of the most critical aspects of culturally responsive pedagogy: helping teacher education students understand the value of diverse students' families and communities. Students in the program have significant field experience in a school that is comprised of nearly 70 percent students of color and 95 percent students receiving free or reduced-price lunch.

“The Schools Within the Context of Community program is providing a transformative experience for our candidates,” said John E. Jacobson, Ed.D., dean of Ball State's Teachers College. “They are realizing the extent to which contextual cognizance enriches their teaching, and subsequently, student learning. As they embed culturally responsive pedagogy into their relationships with children, they are making the connections which are critical to realizing the promise and potential of every child.”

Texas Christian's Center for Urban Education English language arts, reading and ESL program involves five courses within the middle school and secondary certification programs and field placements in a variety of urban middle schools, high schools and other community experiences. The Center for Urban Education works with the Fort Worth school district to recruit diverse students to the program. All students in the program receive ESL preparation and certification, which the awards review panel noted as unique for a non-ESL and non-bilingual educator preparation program.

"The English language arts, reading and ESL program focuses on culturally responsive teacher preparation that is crucial to achieving success in urban school systems,” said R. Nowell Donovan, Ph.D., provost and vice chancellor for TCU's academic affairs. “The program is one of many within TCU's College of Education worthy of recognition for its incorporation of diverse learning experiences and the latest research to set future teachers on a successful path. TCU joins AACTE in honoring the College of Education for its commitment to excellence.”

AACTE and the Southern Poverty Law Center are co-sponsoring these awards as part of their partnership on the Teaching Diverse Students Initiative (TDSI). TDSI provides research-based online resources for improving the teaching of ethnically and racially diverse students. The award review panel included Jorgelina Abbate-Vaughn, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Jacqueline Jordan Irvine, Ph.D., of Emory University (Georgia), Marvin Lynn, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Sonia Nieto, Ed.D., of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Christine Sleeter, Ph.D., of California State University Monterey Bay, and Gladys Sossa-Schwartz, NBCT, of Arlington Public Schools (Virginia).

Find more information on AACTE's 2012 award winners at


AACTE: Serving Learners
The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to the highest quality professional development of teachers and school leaders in order to enhance PK-12 student learning. The 800 institutions holding AACTE membership represent public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. AACTE's reach and influence fuel its mission of serving learners by providing all school personnel with superior training and continuing education.
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama with offices in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. For more information, see