Standard 1: Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Professional Development

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.

The School of Leadership and Education Science’s Professional Education Unit (PEU) adopted the ACE Conceptual Framework, in 2004. The ACE Conceptual Framework is directly related to Standard 1. The framework emphasizes these three areas:

Academic Excellence, Critical Inquiry, and Reflection: Candidates in the unit will demonstrate the knowledge and the ability to represent content accurately by applying effective strategies and techniques in their field of study, by actively engaging in reflective activities, by critically analyzing their practice and by applying higher order thinking skills to a wide array of investigative pursuits.

Community and Service: Candidates in the unit will strive to create and support collaborative learning communities in their classrooms and their professional fields of practice by bridging theory and practice and engaging in community service.

Ethics, Values, and Diversity: Candidates in the unit will understand and adhere to the values and ethical codes of the University, of the schools they work in, and of the professional organizations to which they belong. They will support the creation of inclusive, unified, caring and democratic learning communities that value each individual regardless of background or ability, and they will equitably support student learning and optimal development (2004).

Initial Programs
With the exception of the new Montessori specialization within the program M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction, all of the initial programs are reviewed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and have been determined to be preliminarily aligned to CTC standards. There are specific points at which candidates are evaluated during as they are admitted to and progress through the programs. First, there is the admissions process, which includes a review of application materials by at least two faculty members in each program and a structured interview of those applicants who move forward from the application evaluation.

Second, there are evaluations specific to each program conducted within the core courses taken by candidates; these are called embedded signature assignments. For teacher candidates, these are keyed to the California Teaching Performance Expectations (TPE’s) and are embedded in specific courses. Candidates in special education complete specific, developmental embedded assessments that follow the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) standards. Prior to student teaching, candidates meet with faculty members and/or program personnel to review their progress in the program to date and to respond to specific questions.This information is brought to a faculty meeting in which candidates who may need additional support or who are not yet ready for student teaching are identified.

Third, candidates are assessed as they reach the end of the program. Teacher candidates in multiple and single credential programs must pass California Subject Area Tests (CSET) prior to student teaching. They must successfully complete the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT) and student teaching to be eligible to apply for their teaching credentials. Special Education M.Ed. and credential candidates have several culminating assessments that approximate the data from these assessments are summarized annually by the Director of Assessment Support.Faculty members meet with the Director and review the program level summaries at dedicated meetings each fall and they determine curricular and pedagogical changes to help improve candidate performance in content, pedagogy, and dispositions.These sessions are also an opportunity for shared best practices in educating the candidates.

Advanced Programs
USD’s Pupil Personnel Services credential program in School Counseling and the administrator credentialing programs (preliminary and professional) are all reviewed biennially by the CTC and are currently preliminarily aligned to CTC standards. As is the case with initial programs, there are specific points at which candidates are evaluated as they are admitted to and progress through their programs.

The admissions assessment for advanced programs is similar to that used with initial programs. Faculty members review application materials and then conduct a structured interview of those applicants who move forward from the application evaluation. Applicants for the administrator programs also are observed in their classrooms by the program director and the observation ratings contribute to the decision to accept.

For the past several years, school counseling candidates completed several assessments during the first year of the program that are summarized in a benchmark report, the Clinical Instruction Benchmark Assessment (CIBA) prior to their fieldwork. The CIBA provided a means to assess candidates at the midpoint and prior to their field experiences in schools. Similarly, candidates in the education master’s programs have specific course embedded assessments that allow faculty to assess candidate content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and dispositions.

Continuous Improvement Changes
Since the time of our first NCATE visit, there have been some important refinements in the assessment of candidates in the M.Ed. and M.A. programs. Most important has been the requirement of an action research project for candidates in these programs. In the education programs, candidates complete the action research project as a culminating assessment. In school counseling candidates have completed their action research projects at the end of the first year of the master’s program.However, the plan is that, for candidates entering in Fall 2011 and later, the action research project will become part of the culminating assessment, in addition to the comprehensive examination currently in practice.

The assessment of these projects has involved the development and refinement of a very detailed rubric. The initial rubric was developed by Learning and Teaching faculty in 2006-2007; the refinement involved a collaboration of faculty and the Director of Assessment Support and included a timetable for raising the standard for passing each year for three years. The new rubric was piloted in Fall 2009 and refined again for Spring 2010. The on-line delivery of the refined rubric and its weighting was implemented in Fall 2010. Faculty in the Department of Learning and Teaching calibrate for inter-rater reliability each term in a session facilitated by the Director of Assessment Support.

More recently, while assembling information about the assessment of candidate dispositions in the various programs in the PEU for this review, faculty determined that they wanted to create a common assessment instrument for use across the PEU. Faculty representing teacher preparation (initial and advanced), special education teacher preparation, school counselor preparation, and administrator preparation held meetings with the Director of Assessment Support and drafted an instrument that was piloted in Spring 2011. This assessment keys off the ACE Conceptual Framework noted above and the items are grouped in those three categories. The faculty team recognized that the expression of dispositions is specific to the unique fields (i.e., teachers, counselors, and administrators).

To resolve this issue, individual items were designed using broad terms for dispositional attributes, such as “values diversity” and “persists” so that the terms can be operationalized for each program. To view a copy of the electronic SOLES PEU Dispositions Assessment, please click on the hyperlink. The instrument will be completed by faculty at three points in the program: in the application phase, mid-point (prior to student teaching or internship), and at the end of the program. Some programs plan to have candidates complete it and compare faculty and candidate responses. The implementation of a PEU-wide assessment will permit a Unit analysis versus individual program analyses.