REVISIONING GRADUATE TEACHER EDUCATION IN NORTH CAROLINA

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1 REVISIONING GRADUATE TEACHER EDUCATION IN NORTH CAROLINA Masters of Arts in Special Education with Concentrations in Emotional/Behavioral Disorders, Intellectual Disabilities, and Learning Disabilities Appalachian State University A. How the Proposed Program has been Re-Visioned to Reflect The North Carolina Standards for Teachers and The 21 st Century Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions Embedded in them and the Rationale for the Changes The graduate level teacher education program at Appalachian State University (ASU) in the Reich College of Education (RCOE) has a solid foundation of graduate teacher education programming built on sound research, an emphasis on excellence in teaching, and a commitment to professional growth. Re-visions within the Master of Arts in Special Education with concentrations in Emotional/Behavioral Disorders, Intellectual Disabilities, and Learning Disabilities adhere to the NC Standards for Graduate Teacher Candidates and to the Special Education specialty area standards for Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBD), Intellectual Disabilities (ID), and Learning Disabilities (LD). The program ensures that candidates are grounded in both professional education and essential special education content knowledge and skills. Candidates demonstrate that they can plan, develop, implement, and evaluate effective learning experiences for diverse students. Through an action research project, candidates combine theory and practice and demonstrate their abilities to provide appropriate and effective instruction and assessment. The following program revisions are based on the NC Standards for Graduate Teacher Candidates with an increased emphasis on 21 st century knowledge, skills, and dispositions and these key constructs: (1) teacher leadership, (2) respectful educational environments, (3) content and curriculum expertise, (4) student learning, and (5) reflection. Further re-visioning improved the rigor with which candidates will be prepared in each of the specialty areas (EBD, ID, or LD) as aligned with the specialty area standards. Overall, the re-visioning process is conceptualized around individualized teacher preparation, technology, diversity, teacher leadership, and a product of learning. Individualized Teacher Preparation A common core of graduate professional education courses (15 sh) provides a foundation of 21 st century pedagogical knowledge, skills, and dispositions required for successful teaching and learning in high stakes accountability systems. The set of common courses (15sh) available for use by master level teacher education programs are: (1) Teacher as Researcher; (2) Advanced Topics in Diversity; (3) Connecting Learners and Subject Matter; (4) Teacher Leadership and School Improvement; and, (5) Product of Learning (POL). This core also assists graduate candidates in meeting the NC Standards for Graduate Teacher Candidates. All graduate teacher education programs may use these courses (15 sh) in their entirety, or they may use some of these and some courses from their program areas that provide an equally strong basis for developing 21 st Century teachers and learners as well for meeting these standards. The special education graduate faculty reviewed these courses for relevance and currency when re-visioning of the graduate programs began. Candidates will be required to take at least 6 hours in the professional core: CI/SPE/RE 5040: Teacher as Researcher (3 sh) and SPE/CI 5045 Advanced Topics in Diversity (3 sh). The rationale for this decision was that the five North Carolina Standards and the 21 st Century Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions are embedded within and across all special education courses, so the remaining three common courses will not be offered as stand-alone courses. In addition, students will take 24 hours of special education pedagogy including courses in leadership, planning and teaching for individual students using evidenced-based practices and applied research; current issues; and creating classroom environments based on sound principles of meeting individual student needs. Nine hours of electives allow teacher candidates to select courses included in the RCOE professional core, course work from related disciplines, or other course work allowing candidates to extend their proficiency in content areas leading to designation as highly qualified. The re-visioned program allows for meeting the needs of teacher candidates through a more flexible course selection allowing them to tailor the program to their professional needs. In addition, teacher candidates choose a strand in a specialty area (EBD, ID, LD) in which students take 6 hours of rigorous and relevant curriculum reflecting what master teachers need to know to teach in their chosen specialty area. 1

2 Technology There has been, and will continue to be, an emphasis placed on the use of instructional technologies in both course delivery and course management, resulting in a more sharply focused vision of the digital age and its impact on teaching and learning. Technological applications in course delivery are quite varied, ranging from the use of a technology such as Skype or Google Talks for conducting on-line individual or small group conferencing to the use of the University-based course delivery software called AsULearn, a Moodle-based course delivery system for delivery of course content. Some classes might be delivered in a totally online asynchronous format, while others might be delivered in a hybrid manner: part online and part face-to-face. Continued use of emerging technologies will prepare students for the 21 st century. Research A greater emphasis also is being placed upon assessment to reflect the growing focus on impacting and measuring student performance that can be found in 21 st century schools and standards. An example of this focus is found in the action research course (CI/ RE/RES/SPE 5030 Teacher as Researcher) and a new research course. These courses will require candidates to conduct preliminary needs assessment planning. Using those assessment data candidates will then design, implement, and evaluate a detailed intervention in their respective classrooms. This intervention is required to be rigorous, relevant, and responsive to learner differences and is to utilize research-based instructional strategies and activities appropriate for the 21 st century content and literacy skills. Teacher candidates will complete a review of relevant literature with an emphasis on evidence-based practices that will include an analysis of the research question(s), participants, methods, results, and discussion of the importance of the findings. This approach is highly consistent with contemporary emphases on data-driven decision-making. The second primary theme is the recognition that using research-based practices is a consistent expectation for high quality instructional delivery. Teachers need to have the tools to make critical judgments about the research findings that underpin particular instructional approaches and strategies. Making these judgments with both effectiveness and confidence depends on knowing and applying the standards of sound research and evaluation procedures. Diversity Another critical focus in the re-visioning process is on addressing the needs of diverse populations. Advanced Topics in Diversity has focused on a framework of theories on diversity and multicultural issues and, from this framework, practical applications have emerged. Research on learning environments, best practices, collaboration, and instructional accommodations and modifications have been key components in these applications. In the re-visioning process, a broadened focus is applied that pushes candidates to explore their own attitudes, biases, and gaps in knowledge about students cultural and learning differences. Master level candidates confront and subsequently assess their current background knowledge with regards to learner diversity. They draw tentative conclusions regarding their knowledge, dispositions, and practices in relationship to teaching diverse populations. Based on this personal analysis, candidates select an area in which to build additional background knowledge in order to improve their delivery of curriculum and instruction for diverse learners. Candidates create a school or classroom culture that builds on community resources and their sources of knowledge and cultural understanding. As part of this focus, candidates complete a reflective paper that includes their reflection and identification of the area of study, a research summary of the identified area of study, and an action plan to implement change in their classrooms and schools. Teacher Leadership An overall theme of graduate teacher education is moving teachers who are not only known by their excellent teaching, but who also become known as leaders in their educational settings. These teacher leaders are curious and thoughtful about what they do, are collaborative in their approach, and are supportive of informed innovation. Teacher leadership is a common factor in all of the state s newly approved standards and their accompanying performance evaluation systems. Preparing teachers to assume appropriate leadership responsibilities in schools is highly consistent with a state priority. All graduate level teacher education courses play a part in developing teacher leadership capacity for 21 st century schools. Product of Learning Evidence for meeting all the standards will be provided through the construction of a Product of Learning (POL) to document and verify that candidates are proficient in the standards. Given that candidates in special education will be required to meet the NC Standards for Graduate Teacher Candidates as well as their chosen specialty area standards (EBD, ID, LD), the POL will consist of two parts: candidates will construct a POL that demonstrates their 2

3 competencies in the NC teaching standards; and, a POL: Specialty Area Standards (POL: SAS) that demonstrates their competencies in the specialty area standards for their concentration. The two electronic evidences will consist of a candidate s artifacts that are stored in a personally constructed website. This product requires candidates to examine their learning and teaching. The definition, design, and development of the POL and the POL: SAS in the chosen specialty area will consist of critical and systematic projects to address teaching and learning effectiveness and will emerge from the knowledge and information acquired from course work and related experiences. Neither POL is an amalgamation of already completed assignments however exemplary they might be. Rather, it is a distinct document that draws on and uses the aforementioned assignments as information sources for constructing and completing each POL and for demonstrating how candidates perspectives and practices of teaching have been transformed. Each POL will use a structure/template consistent with the development of sound instructional improvement planning, strategic planning, or school improvement planning. In designing, developing, executing, and evaluating the relative impact of each POL on the identified need, candidates will be expected to demonstrate that key teacher performance standards are reflected in each POL. Teachers granted the master s degree license are expected to be leaders in special education, create healthy environments, apply knowledge and skills while teaching and planning curricula for students with disabilities, and apply research in making decisions for student learning. Ultimately master teachers are continuous, reflective practitioners who model the values of lifelong learning, critical thinking, problem solving, and innovation. The rubric that will be used to evaluate these POLs will reflect these expectations. The POL has been revised for more consistency across program areas, more intense use of technology, and better alignment with research-based practices; 21st century knowledge, skills, and dispositions; and revised standards at the state level. The POL also will include a personal/professional reflection of what the candidate expects from the program, ongoing reflections on their progress, and a summative reflection on the experiences in the special education M.A. program. Reflections may include changes in the candidate s pedagogy; quality of instructional insights; capacity to better align curriculum, instruction, and assessment; proclivity to better serve the needs of students with disabilities; and inclination to assume appropriate leadership responsibilities in the school. Critical to a lifelong learner is the ability to apply a candidate s reflections toward future application of skills and knowledge indicating extension of professional growth beyond the completion of this degree. The POL will be developed electronically and presented to a committee of university professors and professional practitioners who will evaluate whether it is a satisfactory demonstration of candidate competence and meets the criteria for the program set forth in the POL rubric. B. Public School Partners Involvement in the Re-Visioning of the Program and Continued Involvement in the Delivery and Evaluation of the Program Various constituencies from public school communities of practice and members of Advisory Councils to graduatelevel disciplines were continuously engaged at various levels of the re-visioning process by providing feedback and input, which is reflected in the blueprint. Program coordinators and other graduate faculty, representing the 12 graduate teacher education programs at ASU, were highly engaged and involved in re-visioning through the RCOE Graduate Studies Committee. Additionally, subgroups assigned to focus on the NC Standards for Graduate Teacher Candidates, the courses for meeting these standards and the 21st Century knowledge and skills, provided input to larger groups that aided in the development of graduate-level blueprints. Through program area advisory councils, public school partners participated in reviewing and providing suggestions regarding the relevance, feasibility, and alignment of the contents of the blueprint to state and national standards and with 21 st Century learning principles. Input and feedback gained from the various meetings were incorporated into program re-visioning and were used in the subsequent development of the blueprints. In the Fall 2010 semester, some select specialty area professors will pilot/use some of the assignments and/or projects identified as a part of the Product of Learning (POL). Feedback and input regarding the value of or relevance of the projects/requirements has been solicited from faculty teaching the courses, candidates taking the courses, and public school partners who work with our graduate level candidates in their respective practitioner settings. Faculty and practitioners will be expected to support and evaluate candidates efforts, then provide feedback to the program areas about the feasibility, authenticity, and quality of the assignment/project, particularly as they have the potential to positively impact student learning and development. Public school partners also will be involved in reviewing the assignments and assessment instruments/rubrics designated as a component of the POL. Feedback and suggestions from faculty, candidates and practitioners will be reviewed and changes made, as warranted, for ongoing improvement of the 3

4 courses, assignments and assessment methods. Professional development will be provided for faculty and selected practitioners regarding the purpose and expectations for the POL and for its assessment. To assess reliability of the rubric, faculty, along with a sample of these master teachers, will evaluate the assignments for the POL and then compare their evaluations with other program faculty and practitioners. These comparisons and subsequent substantive conversations about the language of the rubric will be used to revise the rubric, as warranted, and to develop further or ongoing training as needed for faculty, candidates, and practitioners. As possible and as needed, other pilots will follow in spring With this feedback from various stakeholders, the POL rubric will be revised as needed, prior to fall Communication of expectations for the re-visioned graduate programs will occur in summer 2011 for our partner practitioners and for our candidates entering the program in fall In addition, public school input for the overall re-visioning process was sought through the ASU-Public School Partnership (2) the University Teacher Education Council, and (3) the Governing Board of the Partnership, These groups will partner in an advisory capacity during the implementation of the re-visioned programs. Additional feedback was secured from the results of previous surveys of graduates employed as teachers in North Carolina schools as well as separate survey results from their mentors and principals. Program Advisory Committees consisting of public school representatives and faculty were also engaged in discussions centered on re-visioning. The faculty in the Special Education program has an ongoing relationship with a program advisory council in formal and informal contexts. Regular meetings have been scheduled to review the program as revisions are put into place. By nature of candidates completing the POL and POL: SAS, public school partners will be deeply involved on an on-going basis. The POL serves to encapsulate, in a formative and summative manner, a synthesis of program-wide learning and development that demonstrates to the profession the increased knowledge and competencies the candidate acquired from the program. Further, the candidate will demonstrate the capacity to apply the lessons from the POL to improving student learning and development in the public schools. The POL will be presented to a panel/committee of university faculty and professional practitioners who will evaluate if the POL is a satisfactory demonstration of competency for a master teacher leader, as well as how well state standards and 21 st Century skills and expectations are met. Candidates will develop a POL that demonstrates how their perspectives and practices of teaching have been transformed, based on their respective programs of study, key activities represented by artifacts developed in their programs of study, and reflections on their experiences in their graduate programs. ASU will continue the involvement of public school partners in graduate programs and will continue to extend efforts for closer communication with these partners, and their involvement in our programs and with our candidates. It is anticipated that we will engage public school teachers and faculty, working collaboratively, in the use of the revised assessments, procedures, and practices and to analyze the results of our candidates in their programs of study as we move forward in the implementation of the re-visioned graduate teacher education programs. 4

5 SECTION C SECTION C-I: Key Evidence(s) Name of Evidence Brief Description of Evidence Standards Addressed 1 2 Product of Learning Product of Learning Specialty Area Standards: Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBD), Intellectual Disabilities (ID), and Learning Disabilities (LD) The Product of Learning (POL) is a culminating project that demonstrates how Special Education graduate level candidates have transformed their perspectives and practices of teaching and, consequently, improved the conditions for student learning and development. The POL consists of a series of artifacts and reflections that document how candidates demonstrate competencies in relation to the North Carolina Standards for Graduate Teacher Candidates and the Specialty Area Standards.. Candidates must write and present summative reflections analyzing and synthesizing their growth during the graduate program. They must document how they have achieved the program goals of becoming 21 st Century teacher leaders in their educational settings. The Product of Learning: Specialty Area Standards (POL: SAS) demonstrates how candidates meet the specialty area standards for their chosen degree concentration/licensure area. Identified projects are assigned in the specialty area concentration courses. Assigned projects vary for each of the concentrations to accommodate the uniqueness of each licensure area. By completing the assigned projects, candidates must document how they have achieved the expected competencies/goals identified for their specialty area. These assigned projects/artifacts also address Standards 2-5 of the NC Standards for Graduate Teacher Candidates. The POL: SAS demonstrates how candidates have transformed their perspectives and practices of teaching in their selected specialty area and, consequently, improved the conditions for student learning and development. (1) Teacher Leadership (2) Respectful Educational Environments (3) Content & Curriculum Expertise (4) Student Learning (5) Reflection Specialty Area Standards For Advanced Licensure : Emotional and Behavioral Disorders OR Intellectual Disabilities OR Learning Disabilities 5

6 SECTION C-2: Relationship of the Evidence to the Standards NORTH CAROLINA TEACHER STANDARD KEY EVIDENCE FROM SECTION C-1 DEMONSTRATING THE STANDARDS 1. TEACHERS LEADERSHIP Teacher leaders assume the roles and responsibilities of collaborative leaders in schools and communities. Teachers demonstrate leadership in their classrooms, schools and professional organizations; they advocate for students and effective educational practices and policies; and they are role models for ethical leadership. Teacher leaders will know and be able to: Evidence 1: Product of Learning: Demonstrate effective ongoing communication, collaboration, and team building among colleagues. Facilitate mentoring and coaching with novice teachers. Set goals and establish priorities while promoting educational initiatives that positively affect student learning. Participate in professional learning communities. 2. RESPECTFUL EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT Teacher leaders model leadership by establishing a positive and productive environment for a diverse population of students, their families, and the community. Teachers are knowledgeable about cultures and global issues and how they are contextualized locally. Teachers help colleagues develop effective strategies for students with special needs. They encourage positive, constructive relations among colleagues and students. Teacher leaders: Facilitate the development of inviting, respectful, supportive, inclusive, and flexible educational communities. Create collaborative partnerships with families, schools, and communities to promote a positive school culture. Facilitate and model caring and respectful treatment of individuals within the learning community. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of diverse world cultures and global issues. Encourage high expectations for all students. Collaboratively design and implement curriculum and instruction that is responsive to learner differences. 3. CONTENT AND CURRICULUM EXPERTISE Teacher leaders have a deep knowledge of the subjects they teach and understanding of curriculum theory and development. They value collaboration and the interconnectedness of disciplines. They understand the importance of curriculum relevance in engaging students in content. Teacher leaders: Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Model the integration of 21 st century content and skills into educational practices. Develop relevant, rigorous curriculum. Evidence 1: Product of Learning (With supporting assignments and artifacts from Evidence 2: Product of Learning: Specialty Area Standards) Evidence 1: Product of Learning (With supporting assignments and artifacts from Evidence 2: Product of Learning: Specialty Area Standards) 6

7 NORTH CAROLINA TEACHER STANDARD KEY EVIDENCE FROM SECTION C-1 DEMONSTRATING THE STANDARDS 4. STUDENT LEARNING Teacher leaders facilitate student learning through evidence-based practice informed by research. They understand and apply research in child and adolescent development, cognitive development, and general and specialized pedagogy. They encourage critical reading, writing and thinking in the learning process. They foster instructional and evaluation methods that embrace variety and authenticity. They promote student reflection and self-assessment. They encourage colleagues and students to take on leadership roles and work in teams. Teacher leaders: Seek out and use existing research to inform school practices. Design action research to investigate and improve student learning and school policies and practices. Model technology integration that supports student learning. Critically analyze student and school performance data to determine needs and plan instruction that is rigorous, coherent, and substantiated within a theoretical and philosophical base. Evidence 1: Product of Learning (With supporting assignments and artifacts from Evidence 2: Product of Learning: Specialty Area Standards) 5. REFLECTION Teacher leaders contribute to systematic, critical analysis of learning in their classrooms and beyond. They are lifelong learners who model and support ongoing professional development. Teachers embrace critical thinking, problem solving, and innovation. Teacher leaders: Promote an educational culture that values reflective practice. Model the development of meaningful professional goals. Model personal and professional reflection to extend student learning and school improvement. NORTH CAROLINA SPECIALTY AREA STANDARDS SPECIALTY AREA STANDARDS Specialty Area Standards For Advanced Licensure Emotional/Behavioral Disorders OR Specialty Area Standards For Advanced Licensure Intellectual Disabilities OR Specialty Area Standards For Advanced Licensure Learning Disabilities Evidence 1: Product of Learning (With supporting assignments and artifacts from Evidence 2: Product of Learning: Specialty Area Standards) KEY EVIDENCE FROM SECTION C-1 DEMONSTRATING THE STANDARDS Evidence 2: Product of Learning: Specialty Area Standards (With supporting assignments and artifacts from Evidence 1: Product of Learning ) 7

8 SECTION C-3: Detailed Description of Key Evidence(s) Name: Product of Learning Evidence #1 (Required) Specific Artifact(s): See narrative below. Standard(s) Addressed by the Evidence: Standards 1-5 Rationale The primary purpose of the graduate teacher education programs at Appalachian State University is to prepare candidates to become better teachers and, consequently, to enable their students in their respective classrooms to become highly successful learners. It is well documented in research that strong instruction is a critical ingredient to improved student learning, along with strong instructionally-focused leadership and a strong curriculum. Given that perspective, the rationale for the Master of Arts in Special Education with concentrations in Learning Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities and Emotional and Behavioral Disorders and the development of the Product of Learning Evidence is to document and verify the competency of graduate candidates and is centered on how teachers transform their perspectives and practices of teaching as well as their ability to impact student learning and development in positive and sustainable ways. Improving their teaching and, subsequently, improving the learning outcomes for their students in their classrooms are the outcomes we seek. Teachers granted the master s degree license are expected to be teacher leaders in their specialty area, to facilitate the creation of healthy educational environments, to have deep knowledge and skills in their content and curriculum, to use research in making decisions about effective practice for student learning, and to be continuous, reflective practitioners who model the values of lifelong learning, critical thinking, problem-solving and innovation. Throughout the Master of Arts in Special Education, candidates will demonstrate competency in the NC Standards for Graduate Teacher Candidates, as well as their chosen specialty area standards, and 21 st Century knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Description of Evidence and Artifacts One can conceptualize the development of the Product of Learning (POL) Evidence in three stages: (1) Process, (2) Product, and (3) Reflection. The process stage encompasses the work candidates do in their respective programs of study so that they can learn ways to improve their teaching and the learning outcomes for their students, and to document their mastery of state standards. For the product stage, the Special Education Graduate Program uses the Product of Learning as the Evidence to demonstrate how graduate candidates have transformed their teaching and improved the conditions for student learning and development. The reflection stage, a component of the POL, is the culminating synthesis of the program and its effect on the candidate s teaching and student learning. The POL includes this rigorous requirement that all candidates must successfully write this summative reflection that analyzes and synthesizes their professional growth while enrolled in the program. This reflection includes the requirement that artifacts included in the POL reflect the standards and are tied together rather than being a collection of seemingly unrelated products. Stage One Learning Process to Support Developing the Evidence The process stage encompasses the work candidates do in their respective programs of study in order that they can improve their teaching and the learning outcomes for their students. These assignments are completed in courses, assessed by professors in those courses, and are aligned to state standards. This work, collectively, serves as a series of enablers for candidates to accomplish the larger purpose intended for the POL Evidence. Required courses in each graduate program require key activities and assignments that lead to the construction of key artifacts that candidates complete that serve to inform the requirements for the POL. Candidates will write detailed rationales about how the selected artifacts provide evidence for meeting the standards and program goals, including evidence 8

9 of how their teaching, classroom environment, and student learning have been transformed through the experiences of their program. Standard 1: Teacher Leadership. Candidates complete projects emphasizing leadership roles across a continuum from the classroom, school, district, region, and nation. Specific projects include professional development activities, school wide initiatives, understanding school systems, advocacy roles, and collaboration with other teachers, parents, and administrators (SPE 5630: Collaboration and Advocacy). Projects will require effective ongoing communication, collaboration, and team building among colleagues in professional learning communities as they set goals and establish priorities while promoting educational initiatives that positively affect student learning (SPE 5584 Teacher Leadership and Educational Law). Further examples of leadership projects include but are not limited to: (a) strengthening services for individual students, (b) facilitating professional development for teachers to improve instruction/assessment for students while targeting specific need populations, (c) addressing the achievement gap by analyzing data and implementing strategies to lead to improvement, (d) creating a support group for students, (e) creating an opportunity/program that will provide support (tutoring from adults, peer mentoring in the classroom or across grade levels), (f) providing help by networking with agencies outside of the school, and (g) creating opportunities or programs for parents (e.g., support to attend conferences, parent workshops, family nights). Candidates write a detailed plan and a summary of: (a) how the goals were determined (needs assessment), (b) how the project was implemented, (c) how the project was evaluated, (d) how data were analyzed, and (e) how results were interpreted and reported. Standard 2: Respectful Educational Environments. Candidates will include projects that emphasize diversity: ethnic, racial, socio-economic, gender, and cognitive and learning differences. In CI/SPE 5045: Advanced Topics in Diversity, a reflective diversity project requires candidates to explore their own attitudes, biases, and gaps in knowledge about students cultural and learning differences. The reflective paper includes: (a) the candidates reflection and identification of an area for study, (b) a research summary of the identified area of study, and (c) an action plan to implement change in the candidates classrooms and schools. Candidates complete an analysis of behavior (individual student and class wide), evidence-based instructional practices, a plan for implementing universal design for learning, or an ecological assessment (SPE 5610: Advanced Studies in Classroom Management). These projects provide support, provide equity in schooling/learning, raise the level of achievement, or address a needed change in school environment. These school improvement plans and goals are to effect change in the educational environments of candidates schools. Standard 3: Content and Curriculum Expertise. In special education, the knowledge of content includes how to modify, accommodate, and differentiate instruction based on individual student needs. Interconnectedness of disciplines requires collaboration with teachers in other disciplines including co-teaching, peer coaching, or reciprocal teaching emphasizing 21st century content and skills. As is the premise within our re-visioning of the special education program, student candidates are able to select evidence that demonstrates (a) expertise within a categorical area (i.e., EBD, ID, LD), (b) their particular interest area in content specific courses (e.g., math, reading, science, counseling, psychology), and (c) depth in foundations and theories in access to curriculum for students with disabilities. Candidates will review assessment data that has been collected and reported regarding a student (e.g., psychological reports, individual academic assessments, present levels of performance, curriculum-based measurement, graphs and reports, grades, teacher reports, building team notes, and other information available from the student s folder). In addition, the candidate will conduct interviews with professionals involved with the academic processes with the student. A report summarizing the information gathered, the conclusions drawn, and a synopsis of information needed will be written. Following this, the candidate will conduct curriculum-based measurements in selected academic areas over a 6 week period and document the testing conducted (i.e., time, date, measure used, and the results of 12 or more data collection points.) A formal observation of this student using time sampling, event recording, interval recording, or other approved and research validated system of gathering observation data will supplement the information gathered. An ecological assessment will be conducted and the candidate will write a summary of all data gathered, observations and a description of the modifications recommended for the classroom ecology, and a teaching plan for the student as well as plans and reflections on the collaboration with other professionals, parents, and the student. Standard 4: Student Learning. Candidates will provide evidence that demonstrates student learning through an action research study in their own classrooms (SPE/RE 5030 Action Research in Educational Settings) designed to address student growth and development using classroom research questions appropriate for 21 st century content and 9

10 skills. The research report will include a review of relevant literature with an emphasis on evidence-based practices, the research question(s), methods, analyses, results, and discussions of the importance of the findings. Also, candidates are encouraged to include educational blogs and wikis and other examples where they have used technological tools in their classrooms to enhance student learning and incorporate universal design for learning. The teacher candidate will facilitate learning processes for their students to become holistic learners. Artifacts demonstrating evidence of excellence in directing student learning are a major focus of graduate study. Focus on excellence in teaching is a major component of the MA program in special education. Candidates will conduct a self-assessment using a teacher observation rubric with an emphasis on student engagement; student opportunities to respond; rates of praise; classroom management techniques; respectful language; evidence-based teaching methods; effective lesson planning; lesson activities that are age appropriate, developmentally appropriate, and functional; collaboration with other professionals; effective use of routines; and other classroom practices. The candidate will be observed in practice by supervisors using the same rubric. Following the direct observations by the university supervisor, feedback will be provided and a plan for professional improvement and growth will be written by the candidate. Implementation of the plan will follow and the observation cycle will be repeated to document professional growth and excellence in teaching. Stage Two Product of Learning The Special Education Graduate Program with concentrations in Learning Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities, and Behavioral Disorders is using the Product of Learning as evidence to demonstrate how graduate candidates meet the five professional teaching standards. The POL is constructed throughout the program that graduate candidates complete. Throughout the program, candidates will assemble a POL that represents the candidates programs of study, key activities represented by artifacts, and reflections of how the experiences in the Special Education Graduate Program enabled the candidates to meet the five graduate teaching standards and how the program transformed the candidates perspectives and practices of teaching. The POL consists of artifacts and reflections that document how candidates have achieved the program goals of becoming leaders in their educational settings. Teachers granted the master s degree license are expected to be teacher leaders in their specialty area, to facilitate the creation of healthy educational environments, to have deep knowledge and skills in their content and curriculum, to use research in making decisions about effective practice for student learning, and to be continuous, reflective practitioners who model the values of lifelong learning, critical thinking, problem-solving and innovation. Required courses in our Special Education MA program require key activities that lead to the construction of key artifacts that candidates select to include in their POLs to represent how the teaching standards were met and how the candidates teaching was transformed. These artifacts will be organized in the POL to provide evidence that candidates meet the five graduate teaching standards. Candidates will write detailed rationales about how the selected artifacts provide evidence for meeting the program goals, including evidence of how the candidates teaching, classroom environment, and student learning has been transformed through the experiences of the master s program. The POL is a set of interconnected HTML files and documents saved in a single folder for each candidate. The HTML files contain links to the selected artifacts, rationale statements, and program of learning summary and synthesis reflection. There are, of course, five standard cover pages, and each one contains navigation bars for access to other pages. As such, the POL will be stored on a server or downloaded onto a disc for easy access by reviewers. A reviewer will be able to view and evaluate all five standards from this one set of files. The front page of the POL contains the candidate s name, a summary of the program of study (courses taken), and a synthesis reflection of how the program transformed the teaching of the candidate (explained above). There are links to each standard cover page. On each standard cover page, the standard is identified and the artifact(s) named and described and context where it was created given. The name of the artifact(s) provides a link to the electronic version of the artifact, so that it may be opened and examined. At the bottom of the standard cover page is the written rationalereflection about how the standard is met by the artifact(s). When appropriate, part of this reflection will include how the teacher s classroom and instruction was changed by the experience represented by the artifact(s). Stage Three Reflection Reflection. Candidates will write a summary description of their program of study in their Special Education MA program, highlighting key concepts and experiences, and they will also write a reflection synthesizing and explaining how experiences in the Special Education graduate program transformed their knowledge about their disciplinary content and student learning, their perspective and practice of assessment and instruction, and their 10

11 interaction with colleagues and their students. Data that support improved learning from their students will be included in this reflection. Where appropriate in the written reflections for each standard, candidates will describe how a key concept or activity learned in a graduate class was appropriated by the candidates and used in their own teaching. For example, candidates who changed their instructional practices based on the results of their action research projects in SPE/RE 5040 Action Research in Educational Settings should include that in the reflection. Deep reflection is required in the Product of Learning. Candidates will consider questions such as: What new beliefs do you have? Think in terms of philosophy and beliefs about schools, teachers, and learners. What new knowledge have you gained? What are some specific skills you have gained and/or strengthened? How have your teaching practices changed over the course of the program? Cite sources that gave you new ideas and guided your thinking. What instructional ideas from the graduate program have you appropriated into your own teaching? Discuss examples where you have seen changes in your students learning. What are some of the greatest influences on your development as a professional based on your experiences in the program? Describe. Be ready to cite specific readings, classes and experiences. Directions for Candidates At the orientation for new graduate students, the program coordinator introduces the POL to students and explains how as they journey through the experiences in the Special Education Master s Program they need to catalog and retain meaningful artifacts in electronic formats. They are told that at the conclusion of the program, they will be asked to reflect on the program and their experiences in it, especially focusing on how the program impacts their teaching and their students learning. They are introduced to the five graduate teaching standards and the identified key artifacts that address them, so that they understand the importance of those activities as they engage in them. They will be reminded in a course that houses a key artifact that they should think about the activity as one they may use as part of the POL. Candidates are directed in the construction of the POL in their initial course in the Special Education program. Its purpose and the standards that are to be addressed are reviewed in detail, and explicit instructions on artifacts and reflections produced in future are provided. The candidates are given a template that they will use to construct the HTML pages. It includes a copy of the standards and indicators. Candidates discuss each standard and indicators and brainstorm ideas about what key experiences address these standards. Candidates are given a list of the five standards with key activities (artifacts) identified (see list above), and they review completed POL from previous candidates. Specifically, students are provided the following directions: Written Directions. You will create a POL based on the five standards we have discussed and listed in your template. Your main goal is to provide evidence that you have clearly met each of the standards. Further, it is imperative that you meet a variety of indicators under each standard. For each standard, you will provide a clearly stated rationale (reflection) for how your selected artifact(s) demonstrate how you have met that standard. The front page of the POL contains your name, a summary of your program of study (courses you took), a statement of expectations, and a synthesis reflection of how the program transformed your teaching. In each course, you will reflect on how the experiences in the Special Education Master s Program transformed your knowledge about, student learning, your perspective and practice of assessment and instruction, and your interaction with colleagues and your students. Data that support improved learning from your students should be included in this reflection. There are links to each standard cover page. On each standard cover page, the standard should be identified and the artifact(s) named and described and context where it was created given. The name of the artifact(s) provides a link to the electronic version of the artifact(s), so that it may be opened and examined. Copy the electronic version of the artifact(s) into the artifact folder and create a link to it from the standard cover page. At the bottom of the standard cover page write a rationale (reflection) about how the standard is met by the artifact(s). When appropriate, part of this rationale (reflection) should include how your classroom and instruction was changed by the experience represented by the artifact(s). 11

12 Writing the Rationale-Reflection. A rationale is a thoughtful persuasive argument about how your artifact(s) demonstrate that you have met the five standards. After you have named and briefly described the artifact(s) for each standard, write a convincing exposition giving reasons why and how the artifact(s) demonstrates your competency of the standard. Be sure to explain how it shows your competence of some of the indicators. A reflection explains how the artifact(s) has changed or reinforced your knowledge, attitudes, and practices. A rationale-reflection then serves both functions: demonstrating how an artifact shows the candidate s proficiency in meeting the standard and explaining how developing the artifact transformed the candidate s thinking and practice. Be sure that the text explicitly connects the standard and indicators. Do not use generalizations. Use language from the standard and specific references to the artifact(s). Synthesis Reflection. On the POL cover page, you will describe your program of study (list of courses you took) in the Special Education Master s Program. After this section, you will write a synthesis reflection of the experiences you had in this graduate program. This reflection synthesizes your learning while enrolled in the master s program, and it should be comprehensive and include specific information from artifacts, experiences, readings, and classes. Your synthesis reflection should include examples where experiences in the Special Education Master s Program changed how you think about student learning and your teaching. We are most interested in this reflection to learn how the master s program transformed you as a teacher. Consider questions such as the following and provide specific examples: How has your program better prepared you to provide leadership in your professional practice? How has what you have learned in your program improved your abilities to create respectful educational environments for students? Based on what you have learned in your program, how do you meet the diverse levels and instructional needs of the students you teach? What kinds of support for struggling students do you try to build into your program? How do you foster understanding and respect for diverse cultures and ideas? How has your program influenced your knowledge and skills for designing, implementing, and evaluating appropriate curriculum and instruction? How have you modified your instruction to more effectively integrate 21st Century content? In what ways has your acquisition of master s level content increased your depth of content knowledge? How has this greater depth of content affected the quality of your teaching and your capacity to improve student learning? How does assessment fit into your instructional program? What new assessment processes have you learned that are different from when you began your program of studies? How have these new assessment processes you now use improved your instructional planning? Based on the knowledge you gained in your program, what kinds of materials, technologies, and media do you use in your teaching? For what purposes and how do you model the integration of 21 st Century skills into your teaching? How Evidence (POL) Addresses the Standards The POLs clearly demonstrate our candidates preparations to be leaders in their educational settings and do address all five NC Standards for Graduate Teacher Candidates and the Specialty Area Standards for the selected concentration/licensure area. Artifacts identified for Standard 1 demonstrate our candidates knowledge of effective instruction for students and their abilities to share that knowledge within their professional communities. The artifacts demonstrate candidates abilities to advocate for students and effective educational practice and policies as they plan and implement school improvement initiatives. The school improvement plan (a) requires effective ongoing communication, collaboration, and team-building among colleagues in professional learning communities; and (b) asks candidates to set goals and establish priorities while promoting educational initiatives that positively affect student learning. Our teachers will have opportunities to introduce curriculum revision and other school improvement initiatives to other school members, and they may conduct professional development workshops. 12

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