- Summarize activities and changes based on data that have led to continuous improvement of candidate performance and program quality.
A significant change over the last three years has been the number of courses in the educator preparation program that are offered either online, hybrid, or at our three of our four satellite sites. The expansion into these the three satellite sites (Somerset, Louisville, Elizabethtown) has resulted in several positive changes in our faculty. The unit has hired more full-time faculty; therefore, reducing the number of adjunct faculty. With the increase in online and hybrid (combination of online and face-to-face format) classes, faculty training has increased. All faculty members teaching online courses are required to take Best Practices 101 and are given the opportunity to take Best Practices 102 and 103. Most faculty members have utilized Adobe Connect training to further enhance the teaching delivery methods for online classes.
Due to the increase in number of full-time faculty, the unit is able to offer more programs. Several new programs such as Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE), Teacher Leader MAE and Teacher Leader MASE are now offered online and face-to-face. The university also offers a Rank I degree or a second masters with special endorsements such as the administrative degree in Director of Special Education (DOSE) and endorsements in Gifted and Talented Education (GTE), ESL, and Environmental Education. DOSE, GTE and ESL endorsements are offered online as well.
Another significant change in our program includes the implementation of electronic portfolios via Livetext. Students work in all foundational education courses to complete portfolio assessment pieces. These critical assessment pieces are uploaded to Livetext where students continually improve those pieces based on feedback from faculty. All faculty members receive training in Livetext and score the CAP 3 portfolio submitted by students before the student teaching semester. Student teachers also submit the CAP 4 portfolio through Livetext along with a video-taped lesson.
Faculty attend training to encourage professional growth and maintain an awareness of educational changes that impact candidates. This past year (2011) the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP) changed significantly which required re-evaluation of KTIP task forms. Faculty participated in KTIP update training with a faculty member who serves on the KTIP state committee. Pre-Professional Development (PPD) workshops were scheduled for candidates to explain the changes in the forms and faculty spent extra time in class helping students adjust to the changes. Another major change that impacts the education faculty is Senate Bill One/Unbridled Learning. As a result of this legislation, faculty members have the opportunity to learn from state trainers how the new Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS) are deconstructed. From these trainings faculty were introduced to CASL (Classroom Assessment for Student Learning), the new guideline for assessment in Kentucky. Each faculty member has received a copy of Stiggins’ Classroom Assessment for Student Learning Doing it Right—Using it Well along with training. The faculty also have training in CHETL (Characteristics of Highly Effective Teaching and Learning).
Each year the unit faculty gathers for a three day retreat in May and a one day workshop in August to analyze data, reflect on evaluations, and work collaboratively to establish common goals and concerns of unit programs, policies and procedures. The Program Improvement Plan is developed in May and re-visited at subsequent faculty meetings, including the August workshop. After an annual analysis of data from the retreat, workshop, and faculty meetings, changes/updates consequently occur as needed. One change includes the implementation of a new graded student teaching experience instead of a Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory grade. The unit will also provide more training for cooperating teachers and university supervisors according to new EPSB field/clinical regulations. A cooperating teacher data base has been established to monitor the quality of the student teaching experience. Due to regulations, candidates will be required to accumulate 200 field hours which has been increased from 120 field hours. A meaningful change for faculty will involve connecting the field hours to specific course assessments and content.
Unit faculty constantly strive for continuous improvement. Several faculty members have received a train the trainer certification in order to provide more intentional training of cooperating teachers. This training will also be part of a new model for student teaching (Paired Educators Clinical Model). Eligible candidates may select this model which is being designed to encompass two semesters. The first semester will be course work along with a practicum in the school and the second semester will involve a co-teaching model for student teaching.
Lastly, unit faculty created a professional development brochure for area schools. Many of the faculty already have partnerships with local P-12 schools providing teacher candidates with diverse field experiences that are specifically tied to course content and assessment tasks. Unit faculty view their learning as ongoing and model for candidates their commitment to lifelong learning by engaging in a variety of professional development activities.