Although all indicators within Standard Four 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 our efforts to support diversity issues.
The SOE’s central mission, articulated in our initial Institutional Review (2005), continues to be that “our candidates will engage in educational practices that respect human differences and will aim to educate all learners.” We remain “committed to providing candidates with coursework that reflects a commitment to creating curriculum and public school policy that guarantees access to all learners; providing candidates with experiences in public schools that reflect the diversity of California and providing faculty with professional development in various aspects of diversity.” We have also continued to “assist candidates in developing dispositions that will help them succeed as teachers and school leaders who view diversity as both a strength and a challenge in organizing public schools that encourage P-12 students to live and contribute intellectually, socially and politically to a pluralistic society” (SOE IR, 2005).
An area that continues to be a challenge for the SOE is the effort to increase the diversity of SOE candidates. The Tables linked here summarize the gender and ethnic diversity of SOE candidates from 2006 to 2010. The female-male ratio of candidates has remained rather constant, with males comprising one-fifth to one quarter of candidates. Likewise the percentage of minority candidates has slowly risen over the past five years: 12.1, 11.7, 13.1, 12.6, and 16.2, respectively. Hispanic-Latino candidates continue to comprise our largest minority group, reflecting the demographics of Sonoma County.
Affirmation of the value of diversity is shown through good-faith efforts the unit makes to increase or maintain a pool of candidates, both male and female, from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic/racial groups. The faculty notes to the loss of a number of diversity-oriented, grant-funded projects that were listed in the previous report active in the early 2000s that are no longer functioning. These include the Teacher Diversity Project, Project Quest, Project PITA, which were all programs for recruiting minority candidates. The SOE continues efforts to increase the pool of candidates, both male and female, from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic/racial groups through outreach efforts through the work of recruitment officer Donna Garbesi, who conducts on-site information workshops and visits SSU classes and local high schools, community colleges, and colleges. Continued efforts to increase the diversity of SOE candidates are also supported by the programs (previously mentioned) that increase and enhance the experience of unit candidates and efforts that support the recruitment of diverse candidates to SSU and SOE programs.
Additionally, President Ruben Armiñana has established the President's Diversity Council (2008) that is charged with outreach recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty and staff. In addition, the Academic Senate established the Senate Diversity Subcommittee in 2009 to ensure that diversity is strategically considered in all academic and student life areas. As these strategic plans are implemented, we are hopeful that it will result in a rise in the number of SSU students and SOE candidates from diverse backgrounds as well as an increased attention to diversity related issues in our curriculum.
The unit is purposeful in the design, implementation and evaluation of curriculum and experiences that ensure that candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to work with all students. The unit provides faculty who are experienced and knowledgeable about working with diverse students, and who match the ethnic and gender make-up of the candidates they teach. The unit provides candidates with diverse field and clinical placements where they can apply their knowledge and developing skills. Plans for sustaining and enhancing performance include participation in the unit assessment system that includes regular cycles of data review.
The School of Education is committed to continuous improvement in its diversity efforts. SOE faculty has discussed diversity-related issues (notes on SOE Meeting 2/18/11), including candidate recruitment and retention issues. One SOE goal is to institute, under the leadership of the Dean, an annually scheduled, systematic review of diversity efforts and data. The faculty has discussed expanding our diversity vision, as articulated in the Conceptual Framework, to include other aspects of diversity: gender, sexual orientation, geographic residence, children of unschooled parents, and children of poverty. The faculty is also committed to working on key areas of improvement in our diversity efforts. These discussions would begin at the program level meeting and would culminate in targeted, school-wide diversity efforts, such as, for example, increasing the diversity of our candidates, our faculty, or our school sites.
Efforts to increase and enhance the experience of unit candidates
*The ECE members of LEEE faculty have developed an undergraduate major in Early Childhood Studies. It provides outreach to diverse early childhood teacher candidates, including transfer students from Santa Rosa Junior College, minority and second language learners, and first-generation college students. In addition, a new Masters Program in Early Childhood Education promises to be a local center for developing educational leaders in early childhood.
*North Coast Beginning Teacher Paraprofessional Program:A state funded program that provides paraeducators (instructional assistants/aides) financial support to continue their education and earn their teaching credentials. The SOE partners with the NCBTP in this effort to provide pathways and a support network for paraeducators who work in our local schools.
*Roseland University Preparatory High School: A Single Subject faculty member was active in the creation of the Roseland University Preparatory High School from its inception; a Single Subject faculty member was on the committee that developed the vision and curriculum. The Single Subject program continues to be represented on its School Board. Student teachers are routinely placed there. Roseland University Preparatory High School has been singularly successful in preparing students to be the first generation college students in their families.
*Migrant Education Advisor Program: The Counseling program continues to sponsor the MEAP, which was established at SSU in 1995 as a partnership with Migrant Education, the School Counseling Program at SSU, and participating school districts. Its goals are to provide academic advisement and support services to middle/high school migrant students, increasing their educational success and ensuring that they graduate from high school; to identify effective strategies and programs for providing such services, and to increase the number of Bilingual/bicultural School counseling candidates.
*California Mini-Corps: The California Mini-Corps Program is designed to provide motivation and academic support to migrant students. Sonoma State works with university students to present workshops at local middle schools and high schools for these students.
Efforts that Provide Professional Development to Faculty
*Ensuring Access through Collaboration and Technology: Partnerships, Technology and Dissemination (EnACT~PTD): EnACT~PTD supports California State University students with disabilities in attaining their educational goals. Recognizing faculty play a pivotal role in student success, EnACT~PTD provides the skills, support and training necessary to ensure that students with disabilities are provided a high quality education. A focus on the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) serves as a proactive pedagogical framework to support diverse students' needs. UDL helps educators address this diversity by providing a framework for understanding how to create and deliver curricula that supports the needs of diverse learners from the start. Thus, UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone. Educators who adopt UDL practices move away from a single, one-size-fits-all solution of teaching and seek proactive curriculum development and flexible pedagogical approaches that can be customized and adjusted to meet the needs of their diverse classroom.