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Instructional Coaching Graduate Degree Program Debuts at North Central College

Feb 11, 2020

First-of-its-kind program in Illinois capitalizes on growing trend in education

At the start of the 2019-2020 school year, North Central College welcomed its first class of graduate students in its new Instructional Coaching Masters in Education program. It’s the first known graduate program in Illinois specifically designed for teachers looking to sharpen their skills for careers in the emerging field of instructional coaching. In recent years, the demand for instructional coaches in schools has risen dramatically as part of the state’s plan to meet federal guidelines established by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The staffing rate for instructional coaches doubled from 2000 to 2015, according to a 2016 study published in the William & Mary Educational Review.

“North Central College has long been a leader in developing highly skilled teachers and educational leaders through our undergraduate and graduate degree programs,” said Kathleen King, associate professor of education in North Central’s Educational Leadership and Teacher Leadership programs. “Our new Instructional Coaching Masters in Education program is another way that we are meeting the evolving needs of educators in Illinois and continuing to develop leaders who are doing such important work in our schools and communities.”

The role of an instructional coach, while new to many schools, typically involves a teacher—relieved from day-to-day teaching duties—who works directly with their colleagues to provide leadership in the development of curricula, assessment of skills and best practices, and to provide ongoing mentoring and professional development, all with an eye toward elevating the student experience. Jim Knight, a research associate at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning and president of the Instructional Coaching Group, has described instructional coaching as a partnership approach for powerful improvements in teaching.

The Illinois Council on Instructional Coaching has launched draft standards for coaches and sponsors an annual conference, most recently in Tinley Park in October. The New Teacher Center also has published instructional coaching practice standards, and North Central College’s Instructional Coaching M.Ed. is aligned to both sets of standards as well as requirements for an endorsement in Teacher Leadership.

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