NCATE Accreditation

Continuous Improvement

1.2 Moving Toward Target or Continuous Improvement

1.2.b Continuous Improvement

Summarize activities and changes based on data that have led to continuous improvement of candidate performance and program quality.  Discuss plans for sustaining and enhancing performance through continuous improvement as articulated in this standard.

1) Preparation to teach students with special needs in inclusive classrooms.

For initial programs, local data plus a CSU-wide Improvement and Accountability Plan (IAP) target placed this goal as a focus, beginning in 2011-2012. Since then, there have been numerous improvements to programs, as evidenced in Biennial Reports (2.4.h), WASC Assessment Reports (2.4.g.2-5), and SOE Retreat Goals and Actions (2.4.j).  For example, since fall 2010, special education faculty have assisted the general education faculty in the integration of IRIS Center Modules into the credential program courses. However, because data from Exit Survey and Year-Out Survey showed inconsistent results, initial programs decided to look more closely at course offerings. In 2013-2014 faculty worked to align prerequisites; now, every candidate takes a prerequisite course focused on inclusion that is taught by Special Education faculty. We are hoping that giving all candidates a solid foundation will allow for deeper in-program preparation to support for students with special needs in general education classrooms.

2) Preparation to teach English Learners.

For initial programs, local data plus a CSU-wide focus placed this goal as a focus beginning in 2011-2012. Since then, there have been numerous improvements to programs, as evidenced in Biennial Reports (2.4.h), WASC Assessment Reports (2.4.g.2-5), and SOE Retreat Goals and Actions (2.4.j). One specific focus has been on preparing candidates to support the academic language development of English learners. Lesson plan formats across programs were redesigned to include sections for academic language and support strategies. PACT data has shown a steady increase in candidates’ abilities to use strategies to support academic language, but candidates still struggle to identify and articulate language demands (1.4.d.2 tab 7). Based on this data, programs are continuing to refine approaches to helping candidates identify language demands, drawing upon expertise of faculty who teach in the Bilingual Program.

3) Emphasis on P-12 student learning.

Programs have made many changes to focus on student learning outcomes as the product of effective teaching. In initial programs, candidates practice working in Professional Learning Communities in their classes and are required to engage in Professional Learning Communities on school sites. Faculty guide candidates in lesson study assignments that focus on student work samples, culminating in the PACT teaching event. The 98% pass rate for PACT shows that candidates are well prepared to focus on student learning as the driving force in their teaching. In advanced programs, candidates participate in action research in which data informs their decisions about maximizing student learning. Programs plan to continue current practices, and add opportunities for candidates to engage in deeper discussions about student work with their university supervisors.

4) Use of technology.

The unit has made significant growth in this area, particularly in terms of modeling the use of technology in their own teaching. In initial programs, 2011-2012 Exit Survey and Year-Out data showed lower ratings for candidates’ preparation to use technology in the classroom than for preparation in other areas. Qualitative exit survey data revealed candidate dissatisfaction with a two-unit technology course. In 2012, this course was eliminated but all its learning objectives were integrated into content methods courses, resulting in better use of technology. Course assignments across programs require candidates to explore resources and instructional plans available on the Internet, to integrate technology into practice at their clinical sites, to create websites, and to use spreadsheets and/or grading programs for grading or tracking student progress. Our hope is that future data will show that this integration is better aligned with candidate needs and with the Common Core Standards. For advanced programs, technology is well integrated throughout the program, with exit survey data showing that 95% of candidates agreed or strongly agreed that faculty supported their use of technology through their coursework. One direction for future growth is to share successful practices across programs in the unit so all candidates and their students can benefit from innovations.

5) Improving assessment instruments.

Programs continually and purposefully modify assessment instruments, which allows us to generate data to inform improvement efforts (2.4.g.1, part 2). For example, in 2011-2012, the TPE rubrics for all initial programs were aligned. In 2013-2014, the TPE rubric was modified to include language that reflects the common core standards. In the MA in Education Program, the writing key assessments were developed, along with a holistic rubric. In 2013-2014 an analytical rubric was piloted so that the program can begin to collect data across multiple categories. Programs in the unit have many assessment goals for the future, including developing surveys of graduates and employers in advanced programs.

6) Opportunities for reflection.

With reflection as a core element of our conceptual framework, programs in the unit have continued to support and develop opportunities for reflection. For example in EDAD, candidates write a vision statement in EDAD 612 School Leadership that expresses their philosophy about their role leaders in shaping a school context. They continue to reflect and refine their vision statement during the program. At the end of the program, they present a final version and reflect on it in their portfolios. In PSY 661 Assessment of Intelligence and Cognition, candidates administer assessments and reflect upon the fidelity of administration, and how results could be impacted by factors such as language or culture. Class assignments include online journals (KINE 315) reflective blogs (EDTE 150) or video journals (AGED 601) to aid in reflection. In initial programs, candidates have several opportunities to reflect upon their professional dispositions. In the future, advanced programs will be exploring ways to include more reflection about dispositions throughout their programs.

7) Opportunities for engagement.

Programs in the unit have developed significant ways for candidates to engage with the community. For example, in CMSD 543 Autism Spectrum Disorders and Behavioral Management incorporates cross-disciplinary activities with an autism course for Adapted Physical Education (APE) in the department of Kinesiology. Candidates build a collaborative team with the educational staff and family of a student with autism, and they learn how to guide the team through the process of plan development, implementation, and monitoring. As they work together in the Autism Clinic, differing perspectives allow candidates to focus on behaviors from different developmental domains and develop a consensus-based description of all the child’s skills and needs. These types of activities contribute to candidates’ professional knowledge and dispositions, and exemplify the unit’s mission.

8) Opportunities for leadership.

Across the unit, faculty provide candidates opportunities to share their work and their voices as school leaders. For example, two faculty from the RTR program organized a forum at the American Education Research Association in spring of 2013, and six candidates had an opportunity to present their action research. In the College of Communication and Education, candidates receive support to collaborate with faculty and attend professional conferences. In the future, the unit will continue these efforts and be able to show additional learning outcomes that align with proficiencies in our conceptual framework.

9) Continued unit collaboration.

In an effort to address common needs of candidates across the unit, faculty have leveraged their expertise. For example, each spring, all general education and special education programs in the School of Education collaboratively plan an assistive technology workshop that is required for all credential candidates. The workshop focuses on how teachers can support students with disabilities through using assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices. Guest speakers are invited to demonstrate strategies, and candidates apply strategies to case studies that focus on access to learning for students with special needs. In spring of 2014, the workshop was planned by all programs in the unit and included candidates from every pathway. This unit-wide collaboration is a foreshadowing of future efforts that will improve candidates’ collaboration skills and P-12 outcomes.