Standard 3: Field Experiences and Clinical Practices

The unit and its school partners design, implement, and evaluate field experiences and clinical practice so that teacher candidates and other school professionals develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills , and professional dispositions necessary to help all students learn.

3.1 Collaboration between Unit and School Partners. 

How does the unit work with the school partners to deliver field experiences and clinical practice to enable candidates to develop the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions to help all students learn?

Several major changes and developments in the WCE field experiences and clinical practices were implemented since 2006 NCATE visit to meet the Target Level. First, continued expansion of the Professional Development System (PDS) to increase collaboration with partnership schools to provide optimal experiences, and second, the initial licensure programs were revised in 2009 to include more extensive field experiences.

A critical component in the ability of programs in the Watson College of Education (WCE) to provide optimal experiences in classrooms for the field experience, and the culminating internships, is the continual development and renegotiation of partnerships with schools. WCE’s Professional Development System (PDS) provides a university-public school partnership that aligns efforts and resources for the improvement of education in southeastern North Carolina, and is an integral part of the Office of Teacher Education and Outreach in WCE (3.4.a.21). The partnership achieves collaboration with districts for the placement of candidates for field experience and clinical practice, reciprocal professional development, collaborative grants and other educational initiatives while helping redesign teacher education programs. The PDS improves the quality of teacher and administrator preparation and performance through rigorous entry and program standards and an array of application experiences, including site-based seminars, a coaching and supervision model that involves pairing interns with trained partnership teachers and principals, and classroom and school-level research.

The partnership application with school districts was revised in 2012 to reflect feedback from partners and provides the opportunity to renew focus and commitment to professional growth. Through this collaboration PDS partnership educators developed criteria for strong partnership sites with representatives from each of the P-12 roles (PDS district coordinator, principal, site coordinator, and partnership teacher), from administrators, university faculty, and candidates. The 12 current School Districts and 2 Charter Schools, (totaling 145 schools, with approximately 2071 teachers) in S.E. North Carolina (3.4.a.2), completed the application to renew and redefine the relationship through Memoranda of Understanding (3.4.a.5-20). Collaborative agreements are signed every three years by the WCE Dean, UNCW Chancellor and the school system superintendents and charter school directors and their board of education chair. Although stakeholders have re-negotiated the details of the agreements over the years, the primary goal remains constant—to improve the lives, learning, and opportunities for all students. Other goals of our partnership are to: prepare teacher and administrator candidates in a professional collegial environment; enhance the curriculum, structures, school culture and community ties for P-12 school; provide professional support to beginning and veteran teachers through extended professional development opportunities; assess and evaluate the work done through this collaboration, and conduct research to enhance the field of education and disseminate the results of this work. In our focus on improving the lives, learning, and opportunities for all students, we have more specific objectives, which illustrate our commitment to creating more equitable learning environments for all students. Our implicit belief is that we can work better together to build meaningful reciprocal relationships in our partnership work in diverse communities. Once the district agreements are made, the PDS director disseminates electronically the needs assessments to schools to determine the work of the next three years. During each three-year cycle, schools are identified to conduct intensive partnership work. Schools are selected in which student demographics and location provide rich racial, economic, and geographic diversity (3.4.a.1).

In WCE the governance structure accommodates the building of the relationships with schools and includes regular meetings of the following three advisory groups, which include teachers, administrators, district personnel, community leaders, and faculty. The Dean’s Advisory Board, meets each semester (3.4.a.23). At these meetings, program revisions and other college initiatives are discussed. A second advisory group, The Master Teacher Cohort, (3.4.a.22) is composed of twelve teachers who are identified by university faculty and public school partners as outstanding teachers who model the best practices. Through regular discussions about practice with the PDS director the advice is then shared with our WCE program coordinators in regular meetings for program or course revision. A third advisory group, The Site Coordinators Group, is composed of a site coordinator from each school who are paid a stipend to coordinate field experience and internship placements in the schools in coordination with the Office of Professional Experiences. This group provides input on the field experience and internship process, new directives from the state, and the changing structures and processes in our P-12 schools. In addition, the site coordinators, lead site seminars for our teacher candidates during the clinical practice semester. During these seminars, they provide aspects of the WCE Conceptual framework, and Mission and Value statements by providing opportunities for reflection for the candidates on issues of advocacy and diversity, and discussions about innovation and inquiry in the classroom related to the Common Core and Essential Standards.

The PDS conducts periodic needs assessments and partnership evaluations to examine the scope and outcomes of our work. In recent years, these needs assessments extended the professional development focus to include grant writing and research. As state funding has decreased significantly for our partners and the university, we are working together to secure more grant funding to support projects,  which enhance experiences for students in schools. An example is the Columbus County Summer Enrichment Project, serving 30 rising 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students from Chadbourn Middle School in rural Columbus County, NC and candidates from initial and advanced programs, have the opportunity to tutor the students (5.4.e.6)
The PDS within WCE continues to develop projects to enhance the relationship necessary for the placement of candidates in schools. Through a survey of needs assessment of partnership schools the Partnership in Action School Project developed. The project serves as more intensive university-school collaborative with selected P-12 partnership schools and schools will be selected every three years (3.4.a.25).

Through the engagement of faculty in WCE and our school partnerships there is a concerted effort and commitment to the simultaneous reform of public schools and the creation of a theoretically sound, yet structurally unique, approach to teacher education. The collaborative design and implementation of the Professional Development System University-School Partnership has set mutually beneficial goals and has established specific roles and responsibilities for partners. The development of these collaborative relationships ensures quality placements within the school context. As an example of collaborative efforts with P-12 educators, in 2012-2013 The Office of Professional Experiences negotiated 3,781 field placements and 348 internship placements in partnership districts and schools. For the MSA program, 20 MSA interns served in 27 school placements. Mentors work with the advanced program interns to ensure that all program standards are met as part of the internship (3.4.b.23).

Both University and public school personnel determine the placement of interns and other professional placements to maximize the learning experience for candidates and the P-12 students. The Collaborative PDS Database housed in the WCE Portal was developed to monitor schools designation and shows our purposeful intent of providing a variety of field and clinical practice experiences for candidates. The aggregate data in the portal show placements for 2012-13 (3.4.b.1-24). The Portal is accessed by all participants in the schools and WCE (3.4.a.3) and provides detailed information about schools.

A process for application to final clinical practice for initial licensure for candidates is closely monitored. The candidates for clinical practice write a letter, which provides a detailed personal and professional profile. The Professional Experiences Director (PED) and Field Experience Coordinator (FEC) consolidates this information into a table that is used at the collaborative internship placement meetings, held at each school district, during which Field Experience Coordinator, the Director of Professional Experiences and public school partners jointly determine internship placements for the upcoming semester. The principal, site coordinator, and school district personnel share knowledge of the partnership teachers in their building, who are willing and qualified to host an intern. Participants make informed, collaborative decisions regarding the best match of intern and partnership teacher. All participants in the placement process have an understanding of the uniqueness of each intern and are able to discuss the most beneficial outcome for both the interns’ development and for the partnership teacher and classroom students. At the end of the meeting, principals and site coordinators leave knowing the composition of their intern cohort and the mentoring teachers who will be engaged with them. Interns are notified of their placements shortly thereafter, and must plan to meet their teachers and initiate the professional relationship.

3.2.a Standard on which the unit is moving to the target level

Describe areas of the standard at which the unit is currently performing at the target level for each element of the standard.
Summarize activities and their impact on candidate performance and program quality that have led to target level performance.
Discuss plans and timelines for attaining and/or sustaining target level performance as articulated in this standard.

Design, implementation and evaluation of field experiences

Since 2009, to attain target level, the initial licensure and advanced programs increased time in field experiences, and the design of the experience, so that candidates can develop their content, professional disposition and pedagogical knowledge, skills, necessary to be competent professionals. Clinical experiences progress from exploring teaching (observation, tutoring, and reflection) through more extensive experiences, culminating in a semester-long, full-time clinical practice.
All program field experience courses provide candidates the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of  B-12 settings. The Field Experience Coordinator (FEC) maintains a database that tracks individual candidate’s field experience over their experience in WCE to ensure a range of diverse experiences (3.4.b.19; 20; 4.4.f.3). When enrolled in a field experience course, candidates receive an email requesting completion of and online Field Experience Application from the FEC that elicits placement preferences, special conditions, and other placement information. 

Since 2009 programs have revised the field experiences taken with the methods courses in a variety of ways. For example, the Elementary Education Program Methods Block allows candidates to complete an extensive field experience while taking methods courses in math, language arts, social studies, science, and cultural arts. The block experience is the result of collaboration between WCE faculty members, public school partners with the goal of providing a highly effective field experience. Candidates in both the on campus and distance program are evaluated by the university professor and the classroom teacher (3.4.f.3). A survey by the candidates is completed at the culmination of the experience, which initiates changes and additions to the field experience. Similarly, in the Secondary Programs (9-12), field experiences are planned for each of the four blocks. These are developmental with each block building upon prior experiences and supervised by university faculty. In Special Education, General Curriculum, and Adaptive Curriculum, candidates have a variety of experiences in K-12 placements. Candidates in all programs are evaluated as they progress through field experiences (3.4.f.1-6). All candidates are cleared through a background check with Certiphi before placement in a school.

In Physical Education, Music, and Foreign Language the field experience coordinator works collaboratively with the CAS, and HHS professors to determine placements based on knowledge of candidates and partnership teachers. The coordinator then works with schools, based on these recommendations, to confirm placements.

In Education of Young Children program candidates engage in forty hours of field work: with young children and their families in a variety of community settings in the Pre-K classroom; preschools; childcare centers under the supervision of licensed service providers. This is followed by a full-time practicum experience with young children and their families in an approved child care setting.

In advanced programs, such as the MSA Program, clinical practice placements with ten-month duration are made in leadership sites with PDS trained site principals. MSA candidates designate preferences for placement and the MSA Coordinator considers the levels, gender, race, and years of experience and determines two school districts that will provide a diverse learning experience for the intern. The Coordinator first contacts the superintendent in the school districts and then the designated principals. All candidates graduating from the MSA or add-on licensure program experience at least 2 levels in clinical practice (3.4.b.23). WCE is a partner in the NC Principal Fellows Program and uses the guidelines for internship for those who are recipients of this scholarship. The MAT in Elementary Education began in spring 2013 and with the initial 3 courses requires 30 hours of field experience.

The unit systematically involves its school partners in evaluation of field experience and clinical practice. The WCE faculty and school partners monitor candidate progress through field experiences and provide rigorous entrance and exit criteria for clinical practice. Apart from the required GPA and course grades, all candidates attend a session provided by the Professional Experiences Director in the semester prior to clinical practice to explain professional expectations. These expectations are the result of collaboration over time between the WCE and school partners to assure professionalism of candidates. Candidates meet again in an orientation at the beginning of clinical practice to commit to North Carolina code of Ethics and sign a WCE Professional Dispositions for Teacher Candidates form (3.4.e.3; 3.4.e.4). The criteria in the form are also used in the Performance Review Form that addresses disposition in courses or field experiences if issues arise (3.4.e.5; 3.4.e.6).

The FEC distributes electronic evaluations to partnership teachers on candidates’ completion of the field experience. Once completed the evaluations are sent to course instructors as part of the grading process within the methods courses. In the fall 2010, revised field experience evaluation instruments were introduced to align the instrument with WCE exit criteria in the EEL and SED Program. Individualized (EYC) field experience evaluation instruments address criteria specific to the EYC program as well as the exit criteria for all candidates. The purpose of the evaluation process is to assess the performance and disposition of candidates to discern areas that need improvement prior to clinical practice.

The WCE Conceptual Framework and the North Carolina standards for teachers provide a framework for developing the handbook for the clinical practice (3.4.e.34). Candidates are expected to immerse themselves in the professional community and become a member of the instructional team in the school; essential to complete the NCDPI folio Evidence 6: Leadership and Collaboration for licensure. Candidates are involved in a variety of school-based activities: attend faculty meetings, professional development based on the school improvement plans, PTA meetings, parent conferences, and participate in all the duties of the partnership teachers. Site coordinators and partnership teachers coordinate experiences and seminars for candidates and begin sharing the responsibility of planning and implementing lessons that are consistent with the Common Core and Essential Standards for P-12 students. To enhance reflection candidates complete 8 formative reflective coaching plans, which are developed between the classroom teacher and the candidate with access provided to the university supervisor (3.4.e.12). Reflection is critical to the success of candidate performance and goals for future growth and aligns with the WCE Conceptual Framework.

To encourage critical reflection and ongoing assessment the Intern Performance Scale (3.4.e.16.) is used during the clinical practice by the evaluating triad (teacher, the university supervisor and the candidate). Supervisors complete formal observations of candidates teaching lessons and provide extensive feedback. The Intern Performance Scale provides university supervisors and partnership teachers the means to determine a final grade (3.4.e.29). The culminating assessment is the Certification of Teaching Capacity in which the candidate must have met in all areas, also required is the completion of the evidence folio for NCDPI to be licensed in the North Carolina (3.4.g).

WCE has technology support for the field experience, and clinical practice through a well provided technology facility. The faculty, candidates, and school partners are immersed in the technology resulting in enhanced instruction and learning. EDN 303 Instructional Technology is a core course in programs to develop expertise in technology for instructional purposes. The Director of Technology and his team provides professional development for teachers, to assist in developing and supporting a technology-rich environment which is necessary for candidates to apply technology skills. The use of Taskstream, an on-line system, enhances communication between supervisors and candidates to utilize supervisor input for the revision of lesson plans before observations, and to submit the coaching plans. The competencies required in the National Technology Standards for Educators (NETS) are embedded within lesson plans and instruction in the classroom. The electronic folio in Taskstream provides a data collection system for storage and reporting on intern competencies for NCDPI.

For clinical practice experience all partnership teachers, site coordinators, and university supervisors participate in required training designed to provide opportunities that foster understanding of the conceptual framework, and develop a reflective, learning-centered supervision (3.4.c.1). The training initiative that exemplifies this shared approach to supervision is the PDS Orientation Training which is tailored specifically for programs; the ten hour training has both an online and face-to face component. The yearly Site Coordinator Training Seminars, provide an understanding of roles and responsibilities, and provides ongoing professional opportunities and resources to ensure continuous improvement (3.4.d).

PDS schools are jointly selected during agreement negotiations by WCE and partnering districts. Once PDS schools have been agreed upon, teachers formally apply to become partnership teachers and document their professional accomplishments by meeting application criteria and obtaining a recommendation from their principal. Partnership teachers are jointly selected and prepared for their roles as mentors. To assist full-time faculty in supervision part-time faculty is hired as needed to assist with supervision; all supervisors attend the orientations for candidates and are invited to all ongoing training for partners. 
At the culmination of the clinical practice, partnership teachers, university supervisors, and candidates complete evaluation forms on both the partnership teacher and the university supervisor (3.4.d.12-15). These data are used to improve the quality of the practicum experience for all partners. This evaluation assesses the supervisor’s ability to work collaboratively with candidates and partnership teachers and emphasizes the importance of learning-centered coaching and supervision. The data are used to make decisions to rehire supervisors and to continue use of partnership teachers in future placements.

Field experiences and clinical practices reflect the WCE Conceptual Framework in that they are designed, and evaluated with the intention of developing candidates who are competent to meet the needs of all learners and advocate for students. Revised field experiences (2009) require and emphasize the importance of candidates engaging in leadership roles and teaching lessons, which are innovative and differentiate instruction. This leadership role is emphasized during the clinical practice, when candidates are expected to take over all responsibilities of the teacher, serving as the leader of the classroom for a minimum of 30 days. Resources to ensure success of candidates are available to all participants (3.4.e10-38).

To ensure readiness for clinical practice the PDS provides diverse contexts where there are urban/suburban school districts surrounded by a number of rural school systems (3.4.b.1-16). In the initial licensure programs all candidates are placed in at least one classroom setting with special needs students in their program. In WCE and the Betty Stike Education Lab is where candidates in Elementary Education and Special Education programs engage in their first field tutoring experience, the tutees are from diverse populations including public, private, and parochial schools, so that education candidates are provided a variety of academic, social, and behavioral experiences as they work with the students (3.4.b.17;18).   

To show evidence of addressing student learning the candidates in initial licensure programs engage in an analysis of the demographics of the classroom; they pre-assess the students, plan a series of lessons and then engage in post assessment. Evidence is provided in the NCDPI folio through the 21st Century Learners Project in Middle Grades, Inquiry project in Secondary Education, Authentic Assessment for Student Success in Elementary Education, Special Education and EYC. Assessment of the strengths and areas for growth of WCE candidates begins with their field experience evaluation forms and continues throughout their course work and internship. Using the State Evidence 5 Positive Impact on Student Learning, interns show evidence of P-12 student growth and performance (1.4.g).

As with undergraduate candidates, candidates in post-baccalaureate initial teacher preparation programs also complete numerous and varied clinical experiences appropriate to their specialization. Candidates must demonstrate proficiencies in teaching students with exceptionalities and those from diverse ethnic, racial, gender, and socioeconomic groups and also complete an evidence for the NCDPI folio (1.4.g).

In graduate programs candidates participate in clinical experiences related to their coursework, they are required to demonstrate competencies in their capstone experience and products. Course content and assignments (such as case studies and action research projects) provide the requirement for applying concepts, theories and strategies in clinical sites (1.4.g). 
To sustain target level performance faculty continues to develop new opportunities for our candidates. The following are two significant projects that illustrate our commitment to the Conceptual Framework in particular advocacy, diversity and expanding global perspectives and insuring that candidates are prepared to help all children learn.  

In response to a growing population of English Language learners and an area of need in the US and especially in SE North Carolina, the Coordinator of the ESL program designed and implemented an18 hour English as a Second Language Add on-licensure with the first students admitted in 2007. All field experiences must occur in schools with ELL. The coordinator received a grant in 2011-12 that funds candidate tuition as they add on this area of expertise.

Since 2006 WCE has developed international field experiences in several contexts, in schools in Japan, and Costa Rica, and clinical practice in South Africa, Belize and Kuwait. This commitment to developing international, diverse experiences enhances candidate reflection on global issues that they need to consider when teaching. To assure that all candidates have the opportunity to expand their understanding on global issues faculty also embed international connections in courses through the use of technology.

 



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