SINGLE SUBJECT CREDENTIAL
with CLAD EMPHASIS
Program applicants must demonstrate the possession of particular entry-level skills, knowledge, and dispositions. Passage of the CBEST attests to the possession of basic literacy and mathematics skills. Completion of at least a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of no less than 2.67 (and no less than 2.75 in last 60 semester/90 quarter hours) is taken as proof of prerequisite general academic skills.
The required knowledge base regarding the U.S. Constitution and subject matter are attested by completed coursework or by specialized tests (i.e., U.S. Constitution, Praxis/SSAT). Letters attesting to applicants’ experience of 45 hours in classrooms or classroom-like settings during the previous two years fulfill the requirement that students have a current knowledge of the “life” of contemporary classrooms. Finally, applicants’ dispositions to teach a diverse population of adolescents is assessed though pre-admission interviews conducted by the faculty.
Over the course of their participation in the program, candidates are monitored regarding particular skills, knowledge and dispositions necessary for successful secondary teaching careers. Candidates’ skills in collaboration, integrating theory and practice, and organizing resources are put to the test through in-class activities, written assignments and other projects, and three quarters of field experience. There is continual assessment through the grading of classroom participation and academic products and monitoring of cumulative GPA, which must be no lower than 3.0. Demonstration of required skills during the field experience is also closely monitored by university supervisors and master teachers throughout the three-quarter field experience.
Candidates must demonstrate knowledge of such foundational principles as those relating to learning, development, motivation, and individual differences. This knowledge must be demonstrated through in-class activities, academic products, and the field experience.
Finally, the dispositions to teach reflectively, to be receptive to criticism, and to be flexible are assessed in multiple ways. In addition to their informal opportunities during classroom discussions to think out loud about their own teaching, candidates are required in some of their methods courses to reflect in writing as they try out new instructional approaches. In the face of a heavy workload in the university classroom and in their own placement, candidates must “stay afloat” despite seemingly overwhelming demands on their time and energy. The ability to respond constructively to criticism and to be flexible in the face of unexpected change is given its greatest test during the field placement, as master teachers and university supervisors observe how candidates respond to their many classroom responsibilities and to critical assessments of their teaching.
The field placement tests candidates’ skills in lesson planning, classroom management and delivering instruction. At the end of each placement, university supervisors and master teachers conduct a summative assessment of the candidates’ skill level in these areas. Candidates must furthermore maintain a cumulative GPA of no lower than 3.0 in their coursework, which is often directly related to lesson planning, classroom management, or instruction.
Knowledge of subject matter and subject matter pedagogy is similarly assessed through the GPA and the field experience. Candidates are also required to demonstrate knowledge of subject matter and pedagogy in a summative portfolio, in which they provide a complex overview of themselves as teachers and provide real evidence of their success in attaining all six of the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.
The portfolio and the field experience also serve as an assessment of candidates’ dispositions to grow professionally, promote collaboration, and social justice and democracy. Candidates are expected to show their appreciation of these values through reflective writing and other evidence in their portfolio and field placement.
Annual surveys and interviews of selected program graduates assess the impact of program graduates on the teaching profession and their growth in the skills, knowledge and dispositions valued by the program.
Similarly, program assessment is an assessment of how effective the program has been in promoting valued skills, knowledge and dispositions. Annual surveys and interviews provide the program with a view of its own effectiveness in providing the teaching profession with influential educators. Although the assessment of the influence of graduates is an important part of program assessment, it is only half of the assessment.
The other half of program assessment comes from candidates themselves, who are asked to critique the program while they are in the program, as well as after they graduate. Candidate assessment includes the formal course evaluation at the end of each quarter, opportunities for students to voice complaints at team meetings, and such informal means as personal meetings with team leaders, email and threaded electronic discussions. In addition, teacher educators need to maintain a vibrant connection with particular secondary schools, teachers and classrooms. Student input and the involvement of teacher educators are the means for assessing whether effective, up-to-date instructional practices are being modeled in teacher education classrooms. Data from course evaluations, team meetings, and other sources of student input are included when program changes are proposed.
Evaluations by graduates through annual surveys and interviews of program graduates are highly valued. Such evaluations come from teachers who have gained perspective and can see the relationship between the program and their professional careers. This long view of their program experience enables graduates to advise the program through interviews and surveys regarding those aspects of the program most likely to promote the completion of the department’s mission. Our graduates are the ones best equipped to help the program “look” into the future and to adjust accordingly.
Currency with best practices and active participation in the development of an informed vision of effective professional practice are hallmarks of a good teacher preparation program. This program therefore seeks to align itself with proven best practices through the active engagement of its faculty in the development and promulgation of these practices.
The primary forum for aligning this program with best practices is participation of its faculty in professional organizations through leadership, presentation of current work, and publication of research that informs the development of better teacher education programs.
Professional standards, including the California Standards for the Teaching Profession, are an outgrowth of aggressive leadership among teacher educators. Our faculty should not only know these standards and integrate them into the credential program, they should also play a part in the revision of these standards in response to new knowledge about subject matter and pedagogy.