Candidates preparing to work in schools as teachers or other school professionals know and demonstrate the content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and skills, pedagogical and professional knowledge and skills, and professional dispositions necessary to help all students learn. Assessments indicate that candidates meet professional, state, and institutional standards.
1.1 Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Professional Dispositions
1.1. a. Content Knowledge for Teacher Candidates
Candidates in the School of Education (SOE) at the University of the Virgin Islands preparing to teach P through 12 have a firm grasp of the content knowledge they will be expected to teach. They can explain important principles and concepts outlined in professional, state and institutional standards as demonstrated by their performance on content courses that they will be responsible for teaching and on teacher licensure examinations, once required by all initial candidates for admission to the SOE. Candidate content knowledge is acquired and demonstrated their success on the institution’s general education course requirements which are also required for admission to the SOE. Candidates must successfully complete two semesters of Communication, English, Mathematics and Science, and one introductory course in Social Studies (SSC 100) with a grade point average of 2.33 required by the SOE. Because candidates’ performance on these courses usually surpasses this set criterion, the admission criterion is now at 2.50.
Another measure of content knowledge, as of Spring 2012, is PRAXIS I for secondary education majors, and PRAXIS II for other initial licensure candidates. Both examinations are now required prior to student teaching. To assist candidates having difficulty taking and being successful on standardized tests, the SOE, through the Center for Student Success (CSS) at the institution, as well as through funds from a Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) grant, has put tutoring sessions in place. PRAXIS I examination results have been consistently high.
Candidates also demonstrate content knowledge acquisition through successful completion of an English Proficiency Examination, a sample of writing, and a computer literacy exam. Results are reported as “Pass/Fail.” Students who have difficulty meeting either requirement may avail themselves of an alternative route, a course in each area, or the opportunity to retake the examinations. Given that both examinations are requirements for admission to the School of Education, success rate is usually 100%.
1.1.b. Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Teacher Candidates
Candidates in the School of Education are prepared not only to master the content they will teach but to master multiple theories and instructional learning and diagnostic strategies required to teach diverse groups. Pedagogical content as delineated in professional and institutional standards is attained in content methods courses, such as Curriculum and Instruction, as well as specific content methods courses in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. In these courses, candidates are given opportunities to develop instructional plans, as well as practice their pedagogy and receive feedback by their peers and instructors. They are also provided with training in educational technology which is reinforced in the professional courses where they are required to use technology to enhance instruction.
Candidates also gain pedagogical knowledge from field and clinical experiences. Through early field experience in pedagogical courses, candidates are exposed to diverse groups and settings, and through weekly reflections they learn the skill of self-evaluation. As part of clinical practice candidates are continuously evaluated by cooperating teachers and university supervisors on measures that rate their teaching competence related to learning outcomes delineated in the unit’s conceptual framework (CF). Their knowledge is also assessed through lesson planning clusters, portfolio development, and employer surveys.
Trend data suggests that candidates have the pedagogical content knowledge they need to be successful classroom teacher. Candidates are highly proficient in the use of technology, not only as a devise to enhance teaching and learning but as a tool for their day to day use.
1.1.c. Professional and Pedagogical Knowledge and Skills for Teacher Candidates
Professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills-related courses and assessments are aligned with national and program standards as applicable (INTASC, ACEI, NAEYC/CEC). This element of the standards requires that candidates have historical, economic, economical, sociological and philosophical understanding of schooling and education through early coursework in Foundations of Education; psychological understanding of how children develop and learn from early coursework in General and/or Educational Psychology. Further, they are required to demonstrate an understanding of school, family and community, in the development and delivery of instruction.
Assessments used to evaluate this element include assessments such as teaching competencies, daily lesson plans, course assignments and grades, and portfolios. Data collected in these areas indicate that candidates have the necessary professional and pedagogical knowledge required to be successful.
1.1.d. Student Learning for Teacher Candidates
Instruction in the School of Education is based on the premise, as is incorporated in the unit’s conceptual, that all children can learn and that their impact on the students that they teach is critical to their performance. Thus, method courses are designed to provides candidates with experiences that instill in them awareness as well as the knowledge and skills needed to support student learning. Method courses in initial programs like EDU 450/Measurements and Evaluation in the Elementary Education Program and EDU 403/Assessment for Effective Teaching in the Early Childhood Program, focus on candidates’ ability to analyze student learning results to inform their instruction.
Performance evidence of candidate impact on student learning is currently demonstrated through evaluation of clinical experiences. However, a recently developed Teacher Work Sample (TWS), used to demonstrate candidate impact on student learning, will first be used in the fall 2013 semester although it is being piloted to some extent this semester (spring 2013). The focus of the TWS will be on the use of assessment data to direct instruction as well as candidate ability to appropriately analyze data.
Additionally, data from employer surveys sent out in the fall 2012 and recently returned was used to determine candidates’ impact on student learning. Data from principal feedback on a survey whose items were aligned with the unit’s conceptual framework and national standards, indicate that candidate performance is strong. On no item is there greater than a 5% agreement on “indicator not met”.
1.1.e Knowledge and Skills for Other School Professionals
At the advanced level the unit prepares candidates for other professional roles such school principals and counselors through its Master of Arts in Education with concentrations in Educational Leadership and Counseling. A third concentration, not related to any one specific profession is ‘Teaching’. This concentration requires that candidates select courses from among Reading, Technology and Special Education courses with no clear focus. This concentration is now being looked at for revision.
Other school professionals are required to have a grade point average of 2.50 for admission and 3.0 for continued participation in and exit from the program. A grade of C is the lowest grade counted toward graduation with a minimum of two Cs one of which must be retaken. Candidates are dismissed from the program if more than on F is earned. School professionals are adequately prepared in their professional fields. They understand their role in creating safe and supporting learning environments, that they know their students, families and communities, use research to inform practice, and use technology to enhance their professional services. This knowledge is integrated throughout the program and demonstrated through many measures such as course-based grades in core and concentration requirements as well as on portfolio assignments and an evaluation of candidates’ professional knowledge in the form of a two hour comprehensive examination consisting of a core and concentration component.
Data collected for the past two years from course grades in core areas and concentration areas as well on a comprehensive examination demonstrate that school professionals are competent in content and professional knowledge for their respective roles and responsibilities in schools in which they will work. For example, combined grade point averages in both core course requirements and concentration courses surpass the 3.0 requirement for graduation. More than 90% of all candidates maintain a GPA of 3.0 or greater.
1.1f Student Learning for Other School Professionals
Candidates preparing for other school professions are prepared to create and maintain environments that foster student learning. They understand and appreciate diversity in their students, their families and communities. Through specific core courses such as EDU 500/Basic Research and EDU 501/ measurements and Evaluation, candidates learn how to use data to address student behavior and learning problems. They acquire knowledge of learning, the social and cultural context in which learning occurs and practices that support learning in their respective fields through courses such as EDU 504/ Educational Psychology and EDU 505/ Foundations of Education which is further enhanced in EDU 506/ Foundations of Guidance and Counseling. Evidence of candidates’ academic accomplishments can be observed in course-based assignments and grades at various transition points in their programs. Other measures that the unit will implement are supervisors’ evaluations during practicums or field experiences, projects and school improvement plans, portfolio activities and graduates and employer surveys, some of which are still being developed.
1.1.g. Professional Dispositions for All Candidates
Professional dispositions are assessed to ensure that candidates demonstrate behaviors indicative of dispositions including fairness and a belief that all students can learn. The Unit’s dispositions are aligned with the themes in the unit’s conceptual framework and are usually assessed at the conclusion of the clinical experience. Data have consistently shown high ratings. At the initial level, the unit has just begun to assess candidates’ dispositions at entry point.
1.1 h Follow Up Studies
To meet this standard the unit developed an Employer Survey based on the candidate competencies described in the its conceptual framework and aligned with INTASC and SPAs . The survey requires that employers rate institution graduates on a variety of knowledge, skills and dispositions. The survey was first distributed in fall 2012 and completed by a total of forty (40) alumni through their school principals.
Currently a survey soliciting responses from candidates in regards to their perception of their program and its benefits to them is being piloted with candidates in their final year of their program.
1.2.b Continuous Improvement
Continuous Improvement at this stage of the unit’s evolution will focus on development and/or refinement of candidates’ knowledge, skills and dispositions through: 1) data collection instruments and their corresponding scoring guides, and 2) policy and procedural documentation and distribution. Both of these activities will be used to inform the Unit’s monitoring of candidates knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions.