6.2b Continuous Improvement: Summarize activities and changes based on data that have led to continuous improvement of candidate performance and program quality. Discuss plans for sustaining and enhancing performance through continuous improvement as articulated in unit Standard 6.
The Director of the School of Education in the UTC College of Health, Education and Professional Studies serves as the NCATE Coordinator. The Director has overall responsibility for the Unit and serves as a member of all related committees, including the SOE Assessment Committee. The School of Education was created with the consolidation of the Teacher Preparation Academy and the Graduate Studies Division into a single department in 2010. As a result of this move, all programs leading to licensure and/or an advanced credential have been united into a single group of programs and faculty which includes initial licensure, school counseling, school psychology, advanced practice, principal leadership, and teacher leadership. Additional programs housed in the department do not lead to licensure are Child and Family Studies and a doctorate in Learning and Leadership.
With the hiring of an Assessment Coordinator and the naming of an Assessment Committee, specific and intense focus has been given to the collection and analysis of a wide range of data and the use of this information to revise curriculum, alter course content, provide assistance through a tutor and Praxis preparation as well as a number of other uses. The SOE structure allows the department to hold meetings by program, by faculty interest area, and as a whole. These various meetings enable the SOE to share information, consider future department projects, collaborate with other departments, and engage stakeholders and other constituents in decision-making.
Curriculum changes are made according to university procedures. Alterations in a program and/or curriculum may be initiated as a result of either changes in state regulations, new programs based upon determined need or, most importantly, changes based upon review of assessment data from both internal as well as external sources. The proposed new programs or revisions are presented to SOE faculty for further discussion and approval. The proposal is then presented to the College Curriculum Committee for approval. Once approved by the College Curriculum Committee, the proposal moves to approval stages outside the College. Undergraduate programs seek approval from the University Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Senate. Graduate programs seek approval from the University’s Graduate Council initially, followed by approval from the Faculty Senate. Although the process can be lengthy, its numerous levels of approval serve to strengthen proposals and maximize faculty involvement in programmatic matters. In addition to the above, each major department maintains several standing non-programmatic committees involved in governance issues.
Programmatic committees and ad hoc groups are an important component of the coordination and operation of the SOE and the Unit and afford the support and structure necessary for high quality and rigorous preparation of education professionals at all levels. Minutes from meetings are maintained by the SOE Administrative Assistant and are used to review departmental level decisions and insure that all information is available to faculty and staff.
A number of committees functions as a part of the Unit. These include the following: Tenure, Promotion and Reappointment Committee, Student Petitions and Grade Appeals Committee, Faculty Advisory Committee, Ad Hoc Task Forces, Department Heads, Executive Staff, College Curriculum Committee, University Curriculum Committee, Graduate Council, and Faculty Senate.
All initial certification candidates are served by specific advisors assigned to them based on their programs of study. In addition, in Fall 2011, a Freshman Advisor (Sandra Longer) was hired to work with all freshman education candidates. This individual holds get-acquainted sessions for all freshman in education programs and follows up with two additional individual meetings with each of these students during each semester. When a student moves into his/her sophomore year, an upper level program advisor is assigned who specializes in the degree that student is pursuing. This relationship continues throughout the students’ tenure at UTC. An Academic Advisor (Jan Gould) for the department is also available to consult with students who are moving into their final semesters and enrolling in student teaching. Advanced program students are advised by faculty of their respective programs. All students are also supported by the Center for Advisement and Student Success, the Office of Students with Disabilities (recently renamed the Disabilities Resource Center), the Records Office, and (when appropriate) the Graduate School.
UTC continues to experience one of the highest rates of enrollment growth in public higher education institutions in Tennessee. This increase has placed significant demands on the university in terms of physical space, technological support, and other resources. The support of the Office of Equity and Diversity allowed the SOE to add a tenure-track line to in 2011 and additional opportunities for hiring more faculty may be afforded with the development of a white paper outlining the staffing needs and enrollment trends in the department.
The School of Education's funding level in relation to comparable units at UTC has remained consistent. Other campus resources which are available to students include a new library which will be completed and online in 2013, technology components which are particular to the Unit and have been installed in Hunter Hall and the Challenger Center. Grants are another important source of financial support. These sources of funding provide the funds to hire graduate assistants, afford release time to faculty for related-projects, and offer additional monies from indirects for other SOE activities.