Angelo State University and its Educator Preparation Program
Angelo State University is a senior regional educational institution meeting the local and far-reaching needs of learners. ASU is a dynamic institution of higher education long recognized for its strong academic programs, its technological sophistication and its nurturing environment, all of which help students reach their full potential. Many students enrolled at Angelo State are first-generation college attendees.
As a comprehensive university, Angelo State aims to “touch tomorrow” in the lives of students, in the growth of their communities, whether local or global, and in the pursuit of the common good of society. ASU provides a full range of educational opportunities that prepares students for successful careers and for entry into graduate and professional schools.
Academically, the university is organized with six colleges - Business, Education, Liberal and Fine Arts, Sciences, Nursing and Allied Health, and Graduate Studies. The College of Education, for example, began as a department. It then progressed in focus and size to the School of Education. Most recently, it became the College of Education, with departments of Teacher Education and Curriculum and Instruction. These changes are indicative of the University’s continuing emphasis on the importance of Educator Preparation and its support of and commitment to achieving NCATE accreditation.
Not only does Angelo State provide excellent academic preparation for students but also excellent facilities for learning and living to students both on and off campus. A substantial number of students in the Educator Preparation Programs are non-traditional in age, experiences, background, and need. Additionally, ASU has the financial resources to help its students pursue education. For example, through the Carr Academic Scholarship Program, ASU provides scholarships for one in every six ASU students, equaling a 3.3 million dollar amount annually.
Success at ASU, whether in the classroom, in student organizations, or on playing fields, translates into success in life. ASU graduates have headed major national corporations, played in Super Bowls, anchored national newscasts, served on Pulitzer Prize juries, held statewide political office, and made numerous contributions to their communities and society.
Angelo State has grown substantially since its initial role as San Angelo Junior College in 1928. In 1965, it became a four-year, baccalaureate granting institution, and in 1969, its name was changed to Angelo State University. In 2007, Angelo State became a member of the Texas Tech University System.
What then, is unique about the Angelo State University Educator Preparation Program? Candidates and other college students choose Angelo State for its vision, mission, academic programs, and dedication to success.
4.1 Vision and Mission Statements
The vision of Angelo State University is to educate a diverse student body to become intellectually and culturally prepared to thrive as responsible leaders in a changing world (proposed new, 2008). Angelo State is dedicated to “Touching Tomorrow” for all who live and study at the university.
Preparing new teachers, education specialists, and other school personnel has long been a focus and tradition at Angelo State University. Building on the institution vision, the Educator Preparation Program faculty vision is to prepare:
Angelo State University, a member of the Texas Tech University System, delivers undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional disciplines. In a learning-centered environment distinguished by its integration of teaching, research, creative endeavor, service, and co-curricular experiences, ASU prepares students to be responsible citizens and to have productive careers.
Consistent with the institutional mission, the Angelo State University faculty is committed to its mission of preparing professional education leaders who become reflective practitioners through:
It is from this vision and mission that the Educator Preparation Program faculty have developed and communicated the program philosophy, purpose, proficiencies and outcomes to candidates.
4.2 Philosophy, Purpose, and Goals
The Angelo State University Educator Preparation Program’s philosophy, purpose and goals build upon the vision and mission of the university and the program. The program philosophy connects the vision, mission, purpose, outcome goals and proficiencies for candidates.
The Educator Preparation Program is developmentally based and learner-centered. Candidates utilize knowledge of age appropriate expectations for students at the grade levels they teach. The program focuses on candidates making instructional decisions and analyzing the impact of these decisions on student learning. This focus represents a shift from a solely traditional teacher development model to a learner-centered model of educator preparation.
The program believes that candidates develop as reflective practitioners through opportunities to reflect on their actions and to complete a progression of learning experiences, which include:
Each component of reflective practice is critical as an element of successful educator preparation and is also a part of a holistic view of teacher development. Further discussion and development of each of the above philosophical assertions now follows:
The program believes that candidates must be grounded in content knowledge. A thorough understanding of the content an individual will teach is a basic element required for effective teaching. The candidate achieves this knowledge through the study of the appropriate content in education, science, and the arts. The candidate demonstrates this knowledge by achieving a standard of performance in each content area as assessed through course experiences, standardized tests, and other program specific measures of content knowledge throughout the Educator Preparation Program (EPP). Candidates use state standards delineating content knowledge and skills for schools. These standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills are used as guidelines for the development of instruction. Candidates know and are able to demonstrate students’ progress toward appropriate learning outcomes as a result of instructional decision-making including the application of a variety of formative and summative evaluation measures.
The program believes that candidates must be thoroughly grounded in pedagogical skills that facilitate the creation of knowledge and learning by all students. Candidates substantiate their proficiency in pedagogy through study, practice, demonstration, and teaching and are assessed throughout their programs of study and through successful completion of the appropriate level of the TExES Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) exams.
Importantly, candidates acquire and exhibit a set of dispositions that are respectful of individual and cultural differences, committed to professional and ethical standards, and dedicated to life-long learning. These dispositions are practiced and mastered through the study of human growth and development, culturally relevant principles, and professional pedagogy. They are demonstrated through assessment and evaluation during multiple field placements throughout the educator preparation program. The program believes that candidates need to expand their own worldview to become enlightened in ways that promote strong mind, body, and spirit capable of responding to the diverse and ever-changing demands of life. Correspondingly, candidates must be able to respond to the diverse experiences and backgrounds of the students they teach so that the students can reach their full potential of becoming life-long learners and contributing members to society. These proficiencies are accomplished through candidate personal growth and development, through experiences with diverse faculty in coursework, and in progressive and diverse field experiences—-all assessed at benchmark points in the preparation program.
The program believes that candidates must reflect upon and apply their experiences in planning, evidence-based instruction, and assessment to engage all students in learning. Candidates embrace the premise that all students can learn. Effective teaching and learning occurs when candidates are committed and dedicated to student success through reflection on their personal experiences and professional preparation. When responding to diverse developmental needs of students, candidates continue to develop as education professionals through their commitments to and assessment of professional dispositions during supervised field placements at diverse school campuses.
The program believes that candidates develop as student-centered practitioners, capable of assessing their own practice by analyzing their effect on student learning, noting where they were successful, where change is needed, and where new evidence-based practices should be incorporated for student success. The Educator Preparation Program promotes a shift in thought and practice from a traditional teacher development model to a learner-centered model. Candidates are encouraged to utilize self-assessment and reflection throughout their program experiences to analyze the impact of their teaching on student success. A learner-centered focus is modeled and practiced during candidate planning and practica experiences and assessed during student teaching.
The program also embraces culturally responsive and relevant teaching.
Candidates bring their own unique experiences to their preparation program and then are immersed in the diversity of the classrooms in which they teach. The preparation program practices culturally relevant teaching, described by Pang (2005) as
The over-arching purpose of the Educator Preparation Program is to prepare teacher candidates and other school-based professionals to become practitioners capable of reflecting upon the impact and results of their own practices, to become critical thinkers and decision-makers employing current knowledge and effective practices based on professional outcomes and proficiencies.
Outcomes of the program, including specific candidate proficiencies, answer the question, “What do candidates in the Angelo State Educator Preparation Program look like when they reach program completion?” These proficiencies and outcomes describe what candidates know and understand and are able to do. They are introduced, practiced, developed, and applied during the Educator Preparation Program and are demonstrated at the completion of the program attesting to the overall professional development of the candidate as an educator. Candidates make the shift from a teacher development model to a learner-centered model to support the assertion that the teacher’s instructional decision-making significantly impacts student learning. Candidate proficiencies and outcomes are listed here.
As reflective practitioners, candidates will demonstrate their knowledge of the content of disciplines, appropriately applied to the age and level of the students they teach to ensure the implementation of effective instruction and successful development of all students.
As reflective practitioners, candidates will demonstrate their knowledge of pedagogical skills applied to the development of effective instruction of all students.
Specifically, candidates at Angelo State demonstrate these proficiencies:
As reflective practitioners, candidates will demonstrate commitment to and performance of professional dispositions, appropriately applied in all aspects of personal and educational endeavors.
(Adapted from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte)
As reflective practitioners, candidates will demonstrate ability to implement defendable instructional decisions and technology applications leading to effective teaching and learning.
As reflective practitioners, candidates will embrace active, engaged, student-centered learning.
As reflective practitioners, candidates will implement culturally relevant and responsive teaching, addressing the ever changing developmental and educational needs of diverse students, families, and society in partnership with schools and communities.
Specifically, candidates at Angelo State demonstrate these proficiencies:
Proficiencies and outcomes for the Educator Preparation Program (EPP) are developed from the Unit vision, mission, philosophy and purpose. The following entities are involved in the approval of educator preparation programs in the state of Texas:
At Angelo State University, the Educator Preparation Program outcomes and proficiencies are aligned with Texas Standards for Educator Certification (TExES examinations) and the Texas Beginning Educator Support System (TxBESS).
Candidates develop professional proficiencies throughout the program. At the completion of their Educator Preparation Program, candidates have developed the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to achieve program outcomes. Specifically, outcomes are demonstrated in content knowledge, pedagogical skills, professional dispositions, instructional decision-making, learner-centered instruction, and culturally relevant and responsive teaching.
The Educator Preparation Program (EPP) has been developed from theory, research, and practice and has been approved by the state of Texas to recommend candidates to be certified as teachers, ready to practice the art and science of teaching.
4.3 Knowledge Base
The knowledge base for educator preparation at Angelo State University comes from philosophy, history, theory, research and practice. From the beginnings of time, humanity has searched for the meaning of truth and life. One definition of education is to seek truth and meaning. Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and educators pondered the meaning of life and sought truth and wisdom to pass along to a nation’s young. Plato, Aristotle and Rousseau spoke about the nature of children, asserting that children are naturally good and that their education should be arranged to fit their differing personalities. European philosophers and theorists, such as Freud, Piaget, and Montessori were heavily influenced by the ancients but made their own impact on theories of development and education. When colonial America emerged, settlers retained their commitments to education but asserted rugged individualism and thought. This diversity of thought led America to embrace free and public education for all.
The success of students, educational curriculum, the systems of schools, and the training of teachers in the United States has long been valued by citizens and government. History and tradition have contributed much to these developments. Research has contributed both questions and answers to dilemmas of education and life. Educational practices have also shaped policy and change. In fact, the most recent writings assert that there are “best practices” to follow in educational endeavors and pursuits.
In addition to historical changes and philosophical influences, educational practices in the United States have experienced continuous movement in theory, thought, and practice. Perspectives have shifted as a result of theory development, the ingenuity of research, and the innovation of practices. Sometimes these shifts have been dramatic departures from what has been, sometimes change has been slower and methodical, and sometimes no changes have occurred at all.
European and American theorists have contributed substantially to educational practice. Psychoanalytic perspectives from Freud and Erikson and others have contributed to considerations related to the development of healthy personalities and to the social development of children and adults. In Russia, Lev Vygotsky elaborated on these positions to include the pervasive influence of social and cultural exchange on relationships between children as learners and adults as teachers. Behavioral theory in the United States has profoundly impacted teaching and learning practices, sometimes in direct opposition to other belief systems.
Developmental, humanistic, and ecological theoretical positions have each contributed to educational thought and practice. A synthesis describes both dichotomies and similarities related to human growth, development, and learning. These relationships state that development is:
Educational practice has experienced shifts over time. Much like a pendulum, the oppositional perspectives of hereditary or environmental influences on children’s development and success sway back and forth. This “nature versus nurture” argument continues to impact educational thought, research and practice. Additionally, a developmental perspective versus behavioral opinions and interpretations related to children’s overall learning patterns appear oppositional. Varying opinions are not new to these swings of thought and practice. Still another dichotomy is the discussion related to teaching as a science or teaching as an art. The very possibility of difference becomes a stimulating exchange for educators and others.
Lastly, shifts in thought and practice have focused on teaching and learning. One shift is from a teacher development model in educator preparation to a learner-centered model. Still recently, teacher practice has moved from a reactive to a reflective model. Today, educators are being looked to as decision-makers, action researchers, and reflective practitioners in the professional arena. The historical source of these practices comes from educational progressivism. As early as the mid-1700’s Rousseau and then Pestalozzi spoke of experience centered, real, relevant and reflective teaching, with the teacher as a facilitator of learning. These philosophers promoted a child-centered learning environment that attended to the emotional and social needs of students. In the late 1800’s and continuing to recent history, John Dewey, a progressive and a pragmatist, asserted the need for a child-centered, not subject-centered learning experience where the child was an active not a passive learner.
In the United States, events of history and politics have shaped educational practice. In the early 1900’s, a substantial amount of developmental research was conducted, particularly in the area of physical and motor development, and intelligence. The results of these studies heavily influenced teaching and student learning. The world was impacted by technological advances and space travel in the 1950’s and 60’s. Simultaneously, Benjamin Bloom researched and developed a taxonomy of objectives in cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. To this day, the application of his work is evident. In the mid-1960’s, America’s War on Poverty made a substantial impact on educational practices. Commitment to intervention for poor children and their families has persisted to current time.
The 1970’s brought other policy decisions that have permanently impacted educational practices. Federal legislation mandating the education of all children in the mainstream was implemented and followed by more comprehensive legislation related to additional risk factors. The federal government began to impact the education of all children in addition to the policies of states.
Through the 1980’s and ‘90’s, studies, reports, and panels exposed what appeared to be inadequacies in educational practices. These assertions publicized educational issues and led to more comprehensive practices. One cautionary report was entitled, “A Nation at Risk.” Another effort to mediate seemingly inadequate and ineffective school was called, “Goals 2000.” These critical mandates brought about yet another shift in educational practices. The government, business, and the public now demanded new national goals, standards, and accountability for the nation’s schools.
While these reports and publications appeared to condemn educational practice, other researchers were making assertions to address the implied inadequacies of American schools. Gerald Bracey has continuously responded critically to national reports and political decisions related to the effectiveness and accountability of schools. He is quick to challenge statistical interpretations and conclusions of any governmental positions or policy writings related to education. John Goodlad conducted research and wrote about effective schools and reform of teacher education. Ernest Boyer and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching also published substantial analyses of teachers, learners, and schools. These positive and optimistic views provided forward-looking practices to meet the challenges of a diverse school and societal population. In part, a result was once again federal legislation committing to, “No Child Left Behind.”
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation is greater than a commitment to educational accountability with attention to children at risk for success in school. It is also a call for highly qualified teachers in the nation’s schools. The results of teacher quality studies arising from NCLB have revealed that highly qualified teachers share these broad elements. They have:
Additional educational researchers and writers have heavily impacted practices in schools. Lee Schulman, Ernest Boyer, John Goodlad, and others have promoted the need for teachers to be solidly grounded in subject matter content. Along with these experts has been Linda Darling-Hammond, a substantially influential education professional. Her work and the work of others address the preparation of teachers to promote effective student learning. Darling-Hammond (as well as others) take a student-centered approach. “Reaching every student rather than covering the curriculum, connecting to all learners rather than merely offering education, is our task” (1994, pp. 6-13). Goodman & Goodman continue to write about authentic context and meaningful experience for learners. Students who are actively engaged in their own learning can become successful. Teachers who are actively engaged in their students’ learning are successful. Additionally, Jonathan Kozol (2007), in his prolific writings especially related to social justice, became associated with the need for critical and comprehensive educational reform to assure that the preparation of effective teachers met diverse students’ needs. Alfie Kohn (1999), has also taken critical positions related to effective teacher preparation and the corresponding need for educational reform in the United States.
The outcomes and proficiencies for the Educator Preparation Program at Angelo State are drawn from philosophy, history, theory, research and best practices. They are also drawn from real life commitments to the highest quality education for teachers and students. The following sections articulate elements of the knowledge base related to each program outcome.
Countless researchers have written about the need for teachers to be knowledgeable in the content of the subjects they teach. Boyer synthesized this point, saying that effective teachers have these characteristics:
Appropriate choices for the knowledge of content for learning come from state and national standards of the professions. In Texas, the Texas Educator Standards have been developed from the content standards of professional organizations contributing to the preparation of educators. Test frameworks in the areas of content knowledge and pedagogy and professional responsibilities have been developed from the state standards and from best practices. These frameworks constitute the breadth of knowledge and skills required of candidates seeking certification in the state. Correspondingly, these standards identify scope, sequence, and progression of principles, concepts, relationships, issues, and facts important for students at each grade level. State standards are aligned with national professional standards to ensure continuity of experiences for students and accountability for teachers and schools.
State content tests of the Texas Examinations of Educator Standards (TExES) measure candidates’ knowledge of subject matter and their abilities to choose and develop content experiences appropriate to grade level expectations articulated in the state public school curriculum, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The TExES Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) test assesses a candidate’s instructional choices applied to appropriate content experiences for grade level expectations.
John Goodlad wrote in his book, Educational Renewal (1994), that teaching candidates needed a strong background in academic knowledge. He described this as encompassing a general and liberal knowledge base as one component of teacher education and the other component as the completion of a subject matter specialization. Educator Preparation Program candidates complete skills sequences, general and liberal arts foundations, and select a subject matter content major. This process promotes content area specialization for effective teaching. Candidates in elementary preparation programs need a broad-based interdisciplinary content major to address the generalist perspective expected of elementary teachers.
To assess competence in knowledge of content, candidates complete appropriate content area examinations. In educator preparation programs in Texas for example, content knowledge is monitored by the Texas Accountability System for Educator Preparation (ASEP). Expectations for candidates in content knowledge translate to appropriate choices for content learning experiences for students. Knowledge of content becomes the umbrella under which other characteristics are manifested and other interactions are accomplished. Knowledge of content for the candidate is elaborated to include transformation of content into meaningful and relevant age appropriate experiences for learners (Bredecamp and Copple, 1997). Candidates use their knowledge of content to select key knowledge and skills for students. They are able to communicate the content of the curriculum, to make connections for learners, and to collaborate with learners in the teaching-learning process. To assist students in making appropriate connections of content, candidates encourage and model individual critical and independent thought and problem-solving skills based on experiences with content matter. Candidates can then assess student progress in the content curriculum in authentic ways, using the results of assessment to continue to build on experiences with subject matter.
Candidate knowledge of content is also importantly applied to the individual and varied styles of learning exhibited by students. This individual variability presents challenges to communicate content with relevance and connection. Lastly, candidates demonstrate sensitivity and responsiveness to the culture, heritage, language, and background of individual students and correspondingly develop meaningful instructional content experiences. These applications related to candidates’ knowledge of content are facilitated by the application of the Texas Beginning Educator Support System (TxBESS).
Teachers need skills. In addition, professional educator preparation programs assert that teachers need specialized pedagogical skills. Issues related to teachers as “born, not made,” continue in educational and non-educational settings. Perhaps the polar opposite or mutual exclusivity of this position is not accurate with regard to effective teachers. Some teachers are “born” with natural skills and attributes that contribute to their effectiveness with learners in the classroom. However, all educator preparation program candidates benefit from skills practice and experiences that support the development of their pedagogical skills. Joseph Hasenstab summed this position:
The best teachers think about skills related to teaching and learning. Bain (2004) looked for teachers who believed that knowledge is constructed, not received. In classrooms, teachers, teacher candidates, and students became a community of learners where the teacher was not the sole source of knowledge; students were encouraged to generate and share their own knowledge and understanding which then contributed to increased learning for all (Brooks & Brooks, 1993, 1999).
Thinking about pedagogical skills is not quite sufficient enough for a candidate to be successful in teaching. The practice of skills is a hallmark of the Angelo State Educator Preparation Program. From interaction with peers, one-on-one activities with students, small group instruction, to full classroom teaching, the practice and use of evidence-based skills and techniques is of major importance.
Berry (2002), also writes about the importance of pedagogical skills:
In Texas, pedagogical skills are derived from the collective best practices of educators and are reflective of national professional association guidelines for effective teaching. Texas Beginning Educator Support System (TxBESS) is a framework whereby new teachers practice their skills and benefit from support and mentoring. This framework also focuses on candidates and new teachers increased effectiveness and impact on student learning. Lastly, input for pedagogical skills development and practice comes from the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) principles.
What pedagogical skills are focused upon in the Educator Preparation Program? A synthesized list, not to be construed as absolute or complete, identifies the skills candidates need to develop. Not ranked in order of importance, an effective teacher has these skills:
Research and “best practices” assert that teachers need to practice their craft. Candidates have opportunities to practice skills throughout the program. Opportunities are in place to participate in microteaching, in tutoring, in small group peer teaching, and in developing instruction for diverse learners in candidate field experiences. At the completion of their preparation program, candidates are “beginning novice” teachers, “fit to practice” at the “beginning competent” level. With guidance and support, practice of skills will allow beginning teachers to grow and change personally and professionally. Content faculty and Educator Preparation Program faculty model teaching skills and effective teaching practices. Experiences with public school partner teachers also add to candidates’ skills.
Embedded in pedagogical skills are competencies in the use of appropriate technologies for instruction. In Texas, all program completers must demonstrate competence in technology applications from standards developed by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) and articulated in the Texas Technology Application Standards for all Beginning Teachers. Candidates have information, practice, and assessment of technology skills in the Educator Preparation Program. These expectations and standards become a part of the knowledge base for candidates.
Candidates acquire and exhibit a set of dispositions encouraging them to be dedicated and respectful in planning, implementing, and assessing effective instruction to meet the diverse needs of all students. Through an understanding of culturally relevant and responsive teaching, candidates employ a social justice perspective, searching for alternatives to inequalities associated with race, social class, language, gender, age, and other categories of diversity (Banks, 2006; Oakes & Lipon, 1999). Acknowledging that a supportive school climate requires a caring teacher and a nurturing environment (Eisner, 2006; Moore, 1993; Noddings, 1982, 1994) Angelo State candidates are ethical professionals responsive to individual student needs believing that all students can learn and can become life-long learners.
Teacher behaviors and habits of mind center on effective and affective quality descriptions. A statement first attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, makes the case for a caring teacher. He said, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” That a teacher displays caring is a consistent theme in the literature of characteristics of effective teachers. Noddings (2001)
Noddings (2001) continued to write about teachers’ caring behaviors:
Marsh (1991) elaborated upon affective qualities of teachers by describing quality of relationships and rapport between teachers and students and characteristics of both warmth and enthusiasm. Cruickshank, Jenkins and Metcalf (2003) also included affective behaviors, especially caring behaviors, in their definition of effective teachers:
The Texas Beginning Educator Support System (TxBESS, 2005) articulates qualities and characteristic behaviors of effective teachers. Their synthesis identifies personal qualities and affect, effective behaviors related to instruction, communication skills, diversity values, and professional ethics. Thompson, Greer, and Greer (2004) also completed a synthesis of effective teacher qualities. They identified twelve characteristics, all centered around the theme of caring. They stated that these characteristics result in nurturing teachers who understand the importance of caring for their students and their impact on student achievement. With caring as the “umbrella” behavior, Thompson, Greer, & Greer (2004) described their findings. Effective teacher candidates have these dispositions:
Candidates at Angelo State program demonstrate the above dispositions and believe that all students can learn. They commit to ethical personal and professional behaviors, and they follow professional codes of ethics for teachers. As an integral component of the program, candidates ascribe to the Candidates’ Statement of Commitment regarding Dispositions. The commitment statement has been adapted from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and encompasses professional behaviors consistent with the literature on effective teaching qualities. A study of items from the Commitment regarding Dispositions and the Dispositions statements from the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) identified substantial alignment of dispositions. Out of twenty dispositions named, there was agreement on sixteen items. Three only appeared on the North Carolina format and not in the INTASC principles. Only one category was not substantially present in either source. That category was identified as demonstrating a positive model of oral and written language communication. This category, while stated implicitly in these two documents, is emphasized explicitly at other points and experiences in the educator preparation program. Categories of agreement between the North Carolina dispositions statement and the INTASC dispositions were: poise and attitudes, initiative, ethics, organization and planning, flexibility, diversity, cooperation in problem solving, responsiveness to feedback, establishing rapport, collaborates, provides leadership, affirms diverse perspectives, live-long learners, believes in success for all students, and demonstrates involvement.
To accomplish, demonstrate and internalize all of these professional dispositions, Linda Darling-Hammond (1998) and Goodlad, (1984, 1994) wrote about the need for candidates and classroom teachers to increase their own awareness of their impact on student learning and to engage in reflective practice. Identification, development, demonstration, and internationalization of professional dispositions are critical and illusive, difficult to categorize and difficult to quantify. Most practicing professionals know what dispositions are desirable for teachers but few know how to engender and measure them in novice teachers or candidates.
(Adapted from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte)
Instructional decision-making speaks to the essence of teaching. Teachers teach. Teaching, however, is much more complicated than the statement implies. Within the realm of instructional decision-making, planning, delivery, assessment and more decisions, teachers are challenged daily with issues from individual student circumstances and from groups of students in classrooms. All education professionals look to a candidate, teacher, or to other school personnel for effective and reflective instructional decision-making. This includes:
Robert Marzano (2007), captured the dilemma educators face when he said,
He went on to say that teachers need to determine which strategies to use with each student. “In effect, a good part of effective teaching is an art… (p.5). Then Marzano reflected on the work of David Berliner more than two decades ago,
The argument of the art versus the science of teaching touches the “born teacher-made teacher” phenomenon. Teaching is definitely part art and part science. This makes instructional decision making even more critical as candidates utilize content, pedagogical skills and dispositions in varying circumstances with varying results. This is the science. The art of teaching then becomes the affect, personal connections and relationships that a teacher makes with students. Both the art and the science contribute to effective teaching and learning. Marzano has room for both perspectives in his assertions:
Sources of additional input into instructional decision-making come from such writers as Goodlad (1994) as he described the critical necessity of multiple and varied field experiences for candidates to experience real and relevant teaching. He also promoted opportunities that supported hands-on teaching and learning, observation of many types, role-playing, introspection, reflection, and critical conversations for candidates during their field experiences. Instructional decision-making encompasses all of these areas.
Popham (2008) and others have asserted the importance of the instruction-assessment connection. Assessment results lead to informed instructional decision-making. Assessment decisions are reflected and practiced in field experiences, practica, and student teaching.
Additionally, socio-cultural models of teacher preparation promote collaboration between candidates, teachers, and other professionals in mutual support and decision-making. While teaching is most definitely an art and a science it is also substantially interactional. Sometimes the people relationships are more intense than the educational content. Candidates need to develop responsiveness to the needs of their students before, during, and after instructional experiences so that progressive decisions lead to substantive student learning.
Teaching content and skills is not enough. Educators need to encourage critical thinking, problem solving, and higher order thinking skills in students. An educated person is not one who knows it all, it is one who knows how to find out. Benjamin Bloom, as early as 1964, wrote about a hierarchy of thinking skills critical for the overall optimum development of thinkers. Bloom’s taxonomy is still a cornerstone in instructional planning and decision-making.
Closely associated with promoting critical thinking and problem solving is the effective application of technology in educational arenas. Candidates have instructional experiences focused on technology applications according to the standards of the state of Texas, named Technology Applications for all Teachers. These standards have been developed from the standards of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and represent competencies for all teachers in the use, application, and integration of appropriate technology in classrooms. Candidates must know how to use technology in instruction.
The program outcome of making defendable instructional decisions contributes to the application and integration of content knowledge, pedagogical skills, and candidate dispositions. The outcomes of learner-centered instruction and culturally relevant and responsive teaching further contribute to the development of candidates as decision-makers.
Often information from history, research, theory and practice has looked first to teacher development as the critical component in successful education. More recently, drawing from all that has been studied and written, a shift has occurred from teacher development to students as the center of their learning. Candidates in the Educator Preparation Program experience this shift in their professional preparation.
Once again, early research and writings emphasize the importance of learners being active and engaged in their learning. The earliest works of John Dewey provide a basis for this discussion. Later, Jean Piaget and the constructivist perspectives of Kamii (1990), DeVries and Kohlberg (1987) continued to assert the critical importance of learners being actively engaged in their own learning. Berk and Winsler (1995), Brooks and Brooks (1993, 1999) and numerous others support this position and incorporate active learning and engagement of learners in their writings.
Bain (2004) articulated the need for adults to respond to students rather than students responding to adults in learning. He wrote about thinking and learning:
Building on historical assertions supporting student-centered learning and active engagement of learners in their own learning, task forces from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) have developed guidelines for appropriate practices in early childhood programs. Critical components of developmentally appropriate practices are commitments to students being active learners and teaching being student-centered. Numerous educational practitioners have applied these assertions in their writings, such as in the text by Kostelnik, Soderman, and Whiren (2007) entitled, Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum: Best Practices in Early Childhood Education. Developmentally appropriate curriculum encompasses knowledge and skills for candidates and teachers across all levels of schooling. Adults need to interact in ways appropriate to the individual age of students, to individual student learning patterns, and to individual student cultural background.
Along with ideals related to a focus on student-centered, active and engaged learning are proponents in favor of developing classrooms that are learning communities. Ann Brown and her colleagues, cited in Darling-Hammond and Bransford (2005) describe learning communities this way:
Candidates interested in developing learning communities will apply principles of active engagement in their classrooms leading to student-centered learning. Candidates also need to combine their personal and professional qualities of caring with a nurturing environment to learn how to develop a supportive school climate (Eisner, 2006; Moore, 1993; Noddings, 1982, 1994). A synthesis of research and practices related to the importance of student-centered learning has revealed candidate and teacher commitments. These commitments are:
John Goodlad (1986, 1994), cited the learner as “the center of the world.” This phenomenon is as appropriate an assertion for school students as it is for educator preparation candidates. Content, skills, dispositions, decisions, learners, and cultural responsiveness all contribute to an individual’s ability to make sense of the world (p. 144). The accountable learner at the center keeps education in focus.
Diversity of learners and the diversity of learning permeate educational practices. Family culture and diversity become first on a list of considerations related to student success in schools. An effective relationship between home and school cannot be developed without attention to culture, background, and heritage. Along with communication and relationship building, parent involvement in schools has been shown to impact student success (Fullan, 1991; Reeves, 2004).
James Banks (2006) has written substantially in the area of diversity in education. His assertions related to culture and diversity identify issues and solutions for school practice and for teacher preparation. Closely associated with these assertions has been the establishment of a social justice perspective in schools. Oakes and Lipton (1999) and others have promoted the need for justice and equity in schools to be able to respond with sensitivity to the needs of diverse students.
Additionally, Rothstein, Fisch, and Trumbull (2008) have written about cultural values and beliefs situated at the core of all classroom organization and management decisions. Candidates (and teachers) need to respond to the diversity of learners.
York (2003) defined cultural responsive programs as necessarily representing and supporting the home cultures of the families whose children attend school (p.59). She went on to interpret Brunson-Phillips’ (1988) discussion of culturally relevant education. It is education where teachers are
What does culturally responsive curriculum look like? Again, York (2003) described curriculum based on students’ lives, activities and instruction that incorporated homes and heritage, and instruction encouraging students to learn about themselves and others (p. 73). What do culturally responsive curriculum experiences feel like? Students maintain their personal power and sense of identity, their families are appreciated, supported, and enhanced, and students do not experience daily conflict or confusion about who they are (York, 2003, p. 73).
The content and experiences related to culturally relevant and responsive teaching for candidates in the educator preparation program embraces these competencies synthesized from research and best practices. Candidates demonstrate cultural relevance and responsiveness through:
Additionally, candidates have experiences to know and be able to do effective work with other cultures. These experiences involve knowledge, skills, dispositions, decisions, and learners in implementing culturally relevant and responsive teaching. Candidates…
Finally, candidates apply strategies also identified from research and best practices. Specifically, candidates…
To practice culturally relevant and responsive teaching effectively, candidates meet their task with an openness and willingness to address the needs of all learners, believing that all students can learn. This ends the discussion of the knowledge base foundations of the Educator Preparation Program at Angelo State. It is also, however, a beginning, these practices are ever evolving and ever changing as all educators continue to search for wisdom and truth.
4.4 Candidate Proficiencies Alignment
The Educator Preparation Program outcomes and candidate proficiencies are aligned with the Texas Educator Standards, with the Texas Beginning Educator Support System (TxBESS), with the principles of the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), and with standards from professional associations. The alignment of certification program areas with standards of professional organizations is contained in individual program reports. The table presented on the following pages demonstrates this alignment.
ALIGNMENT OF OUTCOMES, PROFICIENCIES AND STANDARDS
4.5 Unit Assessment System
Angelo State University has developed an assessment system for the continuous assessment of its candidates and to measure the effectiveness of its Educator Preparation Program. This commitment to continuous assessment of progress and proficiency is demonstrated in a variety of ways and at various points in a candidate’s program of study. Stakeholders can provide continuous guidance, mediation, and intervention for candidates by measuring knowledge, skills, and dispositions during the course of their programs.
Individual program areas have developed uniform assessments to augment the data already available for the continuous improvement of the Educator Preparation Program. Examples of these data are performance in capstone courses, employer surveys, or graduate follow-up surveys. Multiple measures ensure a comprehensive assessment of what candidates know and how the program contributes to their performance in the classroom (Darling-Hammond, 2006).
The Educator Preparation Program has five basic steps toward certification with different assessments and data collection at each of point in the system. Progress toward graduation and recommendation for certification are monitored at each step. Angelo State has the following paths leading to certification: Initial certification, Post-baccalaureate initial certification, Certification for Other School Personnel, and Post-Master’s specialized certification. In this section, the steps leading toward recommendation for initial certification are delineated. A chart representing the steps and assessments leading to initial certification recommendation is at the end of this section. The steps for other program categories are also contained in the narrative explanation.
University students and Educator Preparation Program Candidates are encouraged to use the Student Handbook and the Educator Preparation Program Student Handbook as references for information, policy, and procedures, especially related to assistance, support, and appeals.
Denial, Remediation, and Appeal Procedure
Failure to meet minimum standards at any point of assessment results in the candidate being referred to the Teacher Education Council’s Admission, Retention, and Dismissal sub-committee. Reasons for denied admission may include, but are not limited to, not meeting minimum grade point requirements, not completing prerequisite coursework, not meeting stated application and progress deadlines, failure to commit to and demonstrate candidate dispositions, or a criminal history. The committee may impose a variety of interventions or sanctions including in some cases, dismissal from the program. Numerous programs exist on the university campus for candidates who are having difficulties and need assistance in improving performance in basic skills areas, academic achievement, content area major course work, or pedagogy and field experiences. Candidates who fail to meet requirements at any step may seek assistance and advisement from program faculty, department heads of majors disciplines, the Dean of the College of Education, the Director of Field Experiences, or the Director of Certification. Candidates may appeal any decision to the Teacher Education Council’s subcommittee on Admission, Retention, and Dismissal Committee.
Post baccalaureate individuals follow the same sequence of events as others seeking initial certification with a few exceptions. The individual has usually completed the content area required courses and is recommended for a diagnostic examination using one of the state’s content tests for certification. If the individual passes that examination no further preparation is required in the content area. If the individual fails the examination then the content department analyzes the transcript, score report, and the age of the course work and recommends additional preparation. An individual certification plan is prepared with appropriate content and pedagogy requirements listed. Candidates who fulfill these requirements, pass the appropriate examinations, and complete the educator preparation program are recommended to the state for a standard teaching certificate. Pedagogy requirements for certification may be completed at either the undergraduate or graduate level.
Master’s degree level certifications programs are offered for specialization as School Counselors, Principals, Reading specialists, Superintendents, and Educational Diagnosticians. Each of these programs has standards of preparation that lead to professional certification for public school personnel. The following steps describe the general procedure that can be applied to each of the programs.
Candidates who have completed an appropriate Master’s degree may apply for a professional certification plan leading to specialized certification. The steps outlined above are required for certification but foundation coursework will have already been completed at the master’s level. The candidates then complete the specialized content area coursework and experiences. When candidates have completed the appropriate preparation and passed the required external examinations, they are eligible for recommendation to the state for specialized certification as a school counselor, a school principal or superintendent, a reading specialist, or an educational diagnostician.
Candidates know the basis for the assessment of their performance in the Educator Preparation Program at Angelo State University through information communicated and demonstrated in the Educator Preparation Handbook and in individual program courses. Candidates must commit to and sign the Educator Preparation Program Candidate’s Statement of Commitment Regarding Dispositions as a part of their application for admission to the program. Assessment of dispositions occurs both informally and formally in pedagogy courses and in field experiences as candidates progress through the program.
Faculty and classroom teachers provide feedback to candidates based on the assessment of their dispositions. If deemed necessary, faculty complete a “Candidate Concerns Form” if a candidate does not demonstrate or adhere to the professional dispositions expected in the program. A candidate may receive an alert in any Educator Preparation Program course, especially in courses with accompanying field experiences. A committee of program faculty reviews any circumstance where a candidate fails to meet criteria and arranges a conference with the individual candidate. The committee resolves the concerns with the candidate or submits its information to the appropriate department head and/or dean for further action, including program dismissal deemed necessary.
The Unit is held accountable by the state of Texas. The Assessment System for Educator Preparation evaluates each teacher certification program annually. The program is evaluated by overall pass rate by all test takers, gender, and ethnicity with different pass rates required for initial tests takers and final test takers. In addition, each test is analyzed for its pass rate. Accreditation is by unit and by test. Failure to meet the established criteria can result in penalties from requiring a plan for program change to loss of the University’s ability to recommend candidates for certification. The state also monitors the overall structure of the program, the delivery of the program, and the assessment used within the program.
The Angelo State University faculty supports our dynamic Educator Preparation Program with high expectations for all learners. Candidates are challenged to integrate content knowledge, pedagogical skills, professional dispositions, instructional decision-making, student-centered learning, and culturally relevant and responsive teaching to become effective practitioners in diverse learning communities. The Educator Preparation Program at Angelo State is preparing:
ASSESSMENT POINTS AND TYPES OF ASSESSMENTS
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