Although all indicators within Standard Three were met with no noted areas for improvement at the Initial and Advanced Levels during the last NCATE review, the SOE has continued to use data collected through our PEARL assessment system to make program changes and assure continuous improvement of early field experiences and clinical practice.
Two noted changes have substantively impacted our candidates’ practicum experiences: the adoption and implementation of the PACT assessment and the redesign of the Education Specialist Preliminary Credential Program. Although the impetus for these changes were mandates by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the process in which these changes have been implemented reflects the use of program assessment and the collaboration of all stakeholders to carefully craft how to best introduce, implement and evaluate these changes to our programs.
As documented in the 2008 Biennial reports the Multiple and Single Subject Programs worked with their Community Advisory Committees (CAC) to educate and collaborate about how to implement PACT into the candidates’ clinical practice. These discussions included explaining the PACT assessment, organizing logistics of PreK-12 student permission slips for/and videotaping candidate teaching in the PreK-12 classrooms, and eliciting PreK-12 professionals to assist with scoring the PACT assessment. Through the unit’s iterative assessment process, these discussions have continued each year, fine-tuning the process and assessing the impact of PACT on the candidates’ clinical practice and student learning. Currently, both MS and SS programs continue to work with candidates and school sites to train resident teachers, better educate the candidates about the assessment, and make the scoring process more efficient and doable. In the most current MS CAC meeting there was extensive discussion of the ways in which students, who had expended considerable energies on PACT, were deemphasizing their “Take-Overs,” thus missing important learning opportunities in the field. The members of the SS CAB (aka CAC) suggested putting together PACT information workshops or handouts for resident teachers. The SS faculty has also revised assignments in their EDSS 444 classes to better support the students in implementing the PACT assessment.
The ES program redesign carefully analyzed assessment data as an essential component of the development their new program. Issues most relevant to early field experience and clinical experience as reported in the 2008 Biennial report include the need for more field experience for candidates who do not already hold a multiple or single subject credential and a common clinical experience evaluation tool for interns and student teachers. The program also designed a new seminar that aligns with the second early field experience to develop a program portfolio that will include critical assignments and serve as the entry assessment for clinical practice.
The ES CAC also provided significant input to the new program design, specifically discussing the need to pursue a semester-long early field placement prior to clinical practice in the same classroom setting. In this way, CAC noted that candidates will be able to establish a stronger relationship with the PreK-12 students, allow the candidates to adequately familiarize themselves with all aspects of the classroom and teacher role, as well as allow the resident teacher more time to mentor candidates. This new model will be implemented beginning Fall 2011 and results examined and shared with the CAC during the Spring 2012 term. The CAC also concurred with the effort of the ES program to develop and implement a performance assessment that will serve as one of the culminating key assessment for our program graduates.
Other program changes that the SOE has implemented that have led to continuous improvement of candidate performance and program quality include:
- The MS program consolidated its field sites so that more candidates in their early field experience have the opportunity to work in a classroom collaboratively with a candidate completing their clinical practice.
- The PASC Program has redesigned its mid- program review and capstone field experience.
- The SS Credential Program is investigating how to implement a clinical model of co-teaching from which to work with its candidates during their early field experience and clinical practice to provide more opportunities for candidates to teach parts of lessons and activities that are initially developed in SSU classes. The program also discussed providing field placements for its candidates upon entry to the program, even those on extended programs, in a “home school” where candidates can observe what is discussed in courses and participate more in the life of the school. The impetus for these changes is to have candidates in the schools more, spending more time doing what teachers do (even if in short mini-lessons) and reflecting on the process.
- The APE program works more closely with its resident teachers and is more explicit about the opportunities and activities the resident teachers need to provide the candidates, in particular, experience with giving assessments and the day-to-day paperwork demands.
We have documented a collaborative, extensive and comprehensive continuum of early field placements and clinical practice that allow candidates to develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills and professional dispositions necessary to help all students learn. There are clear entry and exit criterion in all programs. Expectations and assignments in field-based classes enumerate activities that necessitate the demonstration of the knowledge, skills and dispositions that we consider essential to our candidates’ success as educators. Early field experience and clinical practice in diverse settings allow candidates to study, practice and participate in the roles for which they are preparing.
Plans for sustaining and enhancing candidate performance include participation in the unit assessment system that includes regular cycles of data review. Programs will continue to collaborate closely with their school and community partners as they have for many years. The impact of PACT, the new Education Specialist Program early field experience and clinical practice, and other noted improvement efforts will be carefully evaluated and refined as needed.
One area that will require more focused attention is the infusion of technology based activities in field-based experiences. Each program meets the technology standards delineated in the CTC Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs) and these standards are infused throughout courses in each program, but assignments and competencies are not highlighted in early field experience, clinical practice, internships or advanced program field based assignments. Clarification and explanation about where candidates demonstrate these competencies during their field-based classes are needed.
The SOE has developed Memoranda of Understandings (MOU) with each school district that provides placements for initial program early field placements, clinical practice and internships but we have not extended this practice to the Advanced Programs. Clarifying the purpose of the MOU and discussing the possibility of including all programs in this process might help to formalize and illuminate the work we do in our local schools and strengthen the collaborative relationships that currently exist.
Additionally, examining the processes in place for evaluating resident teachers, advanced program mentors and university supervisors who work with candidates in their field placement is another area where the SOE programs might collaborate and learn from each other. Investigating the contractual issues involved in evaluating university faculty, resident teachers and mentors is an essential aspect of this process. Having a more systematic process in place will support school districts in understanding how to work with the different programs and faculty that work in our local schools.
Lastly, including the APE program in the existing structures the SOE has developed with the local school districts will provide a venue for this program to collaborate more fully with the local schools. For example, including APE in the ES CAC will provide a forum to update the ES faculty and community members about APE program issues and concerns. As well, including the APE students and faculty in existing portfolio evaluations will help integrate the APE program with the other SOE programs.