2.2.b 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. Summarize activities and their impact on candidate performance and program quality that have led to target level performance. Discuss plans and timelines for obtaining and/or sustaining target level performance as articulated in the rubrics of unit Standard 2.
The 2005 NCATE reaccreditation visit resulted in some areas noted for improvement. The primary and overarching concern was that although data were collected regularly and used in appropriate and beneficial ways, the committee did not see a consistent and well-designed assessment system. Careful attention to this issue has led the Unit to implement a number of steps which have had significant impact on the way the Unit operates and how they are able to monitor candidate performance in many ways.
The first step, was the adoption of an electronic portfolio system (LiveText for initial teacher licensure candidates in SOE and SharePoint for UTeaChattanooga candidates), which made it possible for the Unit to collect information and work samples for the purpose of reviewing these, evaluating their effectiveness, measuring performance, and analyzing data. In addition, this tool enabled the Unit to send end of program evaluations to participating educators in the field, professors-in-residence, and student teachers. These evaluations are collected and examined, with the result being a carefully gathered and studied set of data which could be disaggregated to determine further areas which may need additional focus. Beginning with the initial education course, students also submit their self-assessments of dispositions as well as their philosophy of education. These documents form the beginning of a process which is revisited and revised throughout their degree programs and which concludes with an electronic portfolio they have developed over time.
At the same time the Unit began to use the information they obtained through the implementation of LiveText or the electronic portfolio, they also met regularly to discuss other appropriate measures. One of these was related to the SACS reaccreditation visit; because of the need to be able to scrutinize the performance of all departments and programs in an organized and effective manner, TaskStream was adopted as the avenue through which this goal could be accomplished. This new element required the identification of goals for every department/program, the collection of relevant information, the analysis of performance, and the selection of next steps using this previously obtained information. Because this process occurs on an annual basis and is mandated for all programs, the result has been a more cohesive and organized step toward data collection and use. Also, the SOE annually discusses, reviews, and adopts appropriate outcomes and goals for programs in the Unit. These then serve as an integral part of the university’s assessment system and involve a feedback loop through which performance is evaluated and appropriate next steps are identified; such actions as revision of identified outcomes, establishing of new goals, approval of curriculum proposals reflecting necessary or desired changes, and other steps may be taken. Samples of these completed TaskStream Outcomes and Findings are located in the E-Exhibits under 2.3.d.
Additionally, each program in the Unit has designated both checkpoints and dispositions suitable for their candidates. These are reflected in the exhibits provided, but are also the primary guiding requirements for these programs. Regular analysis of candidates’ progress is conducted and steps are taken when an individual fails to meet the required elements. These actions may range from identified steps for remediation to dismissal from the relevant program.
Another, and in our estimation most important, change which has been implemented has been the hiring of a full-time Assessment Coordinator. The hiring of this individual has led to important and major alterations in the use of data and the collection and analysis of a wide range of programmatic documents. The Assessment Coordinator has the responsibility for accessing candidate information and data from Banner, from LiveText, from TaskStream, from surveys, and from faculty collected work samples. These sources of information are now routinely accessed and compiled. Reports are prepared weekly and are sent to the SOE Director and program faculty. The hiring of these individuals led to the final and formal step of implementing a cohesive and structured assessment sequence.
The Unit has revised its assessment plan several times since 2005 based on feedback from the last NCATE review team, from faculty at workshops and meetings, and from members of the advisory groups of principals, school professionals, and other individuals. The current assessment system has been reviewed and approved by the Assessment Committee and Unit faculty. Revisions that led to the current system were based on input from students, program faculty, adjunct instructors, and other stakeholders and were adopted by a vote of SOE faculty each fall semester. The existing system reflects the most recent modifications that were approved by this group.
A variety of key assessments has been identified and is used to monitor candidates’ performance throughout each program. At the initial preparation level, the progress of candidates is evaluated through feedback provided by Director of the Teacher Education Program (TEP) for admission and continuation; by faculty for academic performance and demonstration of appropriate behaviors for dispositions; and by advisors, for ongoing personal and professional behavior, consistent demonstration of Unit dispositions, and final admission status. A wide range of field experiences, cooperating teacher evaluations, professor-in-residence assessment, interviews, and disposition measurements help the TEP director and appropriate faculty evaluate candidates’ performance. Candidates receive feedback through formal and informal feedback and at specific points in each program. The steps in this process are shared with the candidate and monitored through the offices of Field Placement and Certification. To track candidate progress through programs, candidates and advisors use the university Banner system and My Mocs Degree.
Information about GPA, program status, and field and clinical placements is provided to candidates by the Unit. In the case of special situations or deficiencies that might jeopardize admission or continuation, candidates are notified by the SOE Academic Advisor and the Records Office, providing a system of checks and balances which affords review of both Unit and university requirements.
Advanced candidates are informed of program status and requirements by the Graduate School Education consultant and Academic Unit Leader for each respective program. These notifications are afforded through advisement, email, curriculum checksheets, the Graduate Catalog, and program websites. Decision points for admission and performance requirements are fully explained to candidates via communication from the Graduate School, program leaders, and program information meetings. In addition, professional fitness reviews are conducted on a regular basis and faculty determinations about performance are shared with candidates.
Assessment and data-driven decision making are embedded in the culture of the Unit, and the Dean’s office provides support through financial resources, personnel, and other assistance which helped establish and maintain the assessment system of the Unit.
To assist candidates experiencing problems with gaining admission to teacher education or student teaching, who are not making adequate progress in a program, or who experience issues with other academic or dispositional requirements, a freshman advisor and an academic advisor provide support as these candidates attempt to fulfill these requirements. Such assistance may include referrals to the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) recently renamed the Disabilities Resource Center (DRC), the Center for Advisement and Student Success (CASS), or other appropriate offices on campus.
Assessment Committee and Advisory Group
The hiring of an Assessment Coordinator and the establishment of an Assessment Committee has led to a formalized process of reviewing and analyzing data. In addition, an Assessment Advisory Group consisting of other stakeholders affords oversight from outside perspectives. The membership of the Advisory Group includes principals and other professionals who offer specific ideas and feedback which is often incorporated into the assessment processes of the Unit. This group also gives suggestions for changes related to such areas as implementation of altered standards necessitated by specific program accreditations (NASP, CACREP), those related to newly adopted standards (Common Core) or evaluations (TEAM) or other areas. The use of data also affords these stakeholders the opportunity to review candidate performance.
Additional information is available through the Tennessee State Report Card, an annual document prepared by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, which tracks specific data points for every teacher education program and makes this information publicly available. These details are carefully analyzed by Assessment Committee members and a summary is shared with faculty and the Advisory Group.
A model of the Assessment System as well as the timeline and responsible individuals reveals the structure which guides the use of data to determine program and candidate performance and progress.