The program, Transitioning Our Provisional Stars (TOPS), is designed to increase the number, longevity, and diversity of highly qualified teachers in high-need elementary schools in the District of Columbia. Over the course of the project, 240 participants will be selected to engage in a State-approved, post-baccalaureate alternative certification program. Master teachers will be trained to serve as mentors to the provisionally certified teachers and to train other teachers as mentors. Participants also will receive on-site supervision from university clinical faculty to assist them in the development of teaching competencies. Financial support is also provided in the form of tuition assistance. In addition to helping 240 teachers attain full licensure, the program will build a sustainable mentoring capacity in high-needs schools.
Recent college graduates and mid-career professionals are recruited through this program, with an emphasis placed on highly skilled candidates who are from urban communities. Black and Latino-serving colleges and universities are specifically included in the recruitment process. In addition to receiving instructional training in content areas, performance standards, pedagogical methodologies, classroom management, and technology, candidates receive training in culturally relevant teaching skills, community development, and other issues specifically related to success in urban public schools. A four-week summer training institute provides initial training. Candidates are placed in partner school districts in cohort groups and are provided with mentoring from master teachers. Necessary training and coursework are offered during the candidates' first year of teaching in order to meet all requirements for state teacher licensure/certification.