Standard 3: Candidate Quality, Recruitment and Selectivity
The provider demonstrates that the quality of candidates is a continuing and purposeful part of its responsibility from recruitment, at admission, through the progression of courses and clinical experiences, and to decisions that completers are prepared to teach effectively and are recommended for certification. The provider demonstrates that development of candidate quality is the goal of educator preparation in all phases of the program. This process is ultimately determined by a program’s meeting of Standard 3.
The Educator Preparation Program (EPP) at Purdue University Northwest (PNW) prepares undergraduate and graduate candidates to assume complex educational roles in learning environments that reflect the diversity of America’s P-12 students. The EPP offers high quality and innovative educational opportunities through rigorous course work, experiential learning, faculty service and scholarship, civic engagement and strong partnerships across northwest Indiana and neighboring states.
Undergraduate programs offered within the School of Education and Counseling (SoEC) include the Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, the Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with concentrations in Special Education and Reading. The undergraduate educator preparation programs preparing candidates to work in Secondary Education are housed in the disciplinary departments, including the areas of English, History (Social Studies Teaching), Science (Chemistry, Physics, Life Science), World Languages (French and Spanish), and Mathematics. At the graduate level, the SoEC offers the Master of Science in Education: Special Education with concentrations in mild or intense intervention degree. Candidates at the graduate level are also able to pursue non-degree, licensure options in Special Education or Secondary Education within 17 licensure fields (i.e., this is the Transition to Teach program, offered as an alternate route to licensure).
Efforts to recruit candidates from a broad range of backgrounds and diverse populations are hallmarks of Revolutionizing the Educational Workforce: PNW’s EPP Plan for Recruitment and Retention (REW). Serving as the strategic plan for the EPP to transform education within the region, REW applies the business concept of clientcentricity (Fader, 2012) in an educational context. As a result, the EPP has created a candidate-centric culture focusing on candidates and their needs and experiences throughout their educational journey. Building such a culture requires both an inward and an outward focus. Outwardly, the EPP strives to understand community partners, their needs, and pressures. Through ongoing and continuous dialogue, innovations in programming, experiences and relationships are negotiated and developed with these partners. Also, the EPP comes to understand and identify prospective candidates through these negotiations. Inwardly, the EPP concentrates on building relationships with candidates and determining their wants and needs. This inward scrutiny allows the EPP to review its processes, policies, practices, and programming in light of candidates’ experiences translating these into offerings that better meets their needs.
The REW outlines three strategic goals which guide the work of the EPP: 1) to develop and expand relationships with community partners; 2) to increase diversity of candidates within degree/licensure programs; and 3) to create unique and diverse opportunities for candidates to engage in their profession. These goals and the data which support the need for their inclusion as well as the specific objectives and strategies used to achieve them are described here:
Goal One: Develop and expand relationships with community partners
Goal one, an outward focus, compels the EPP to create a candidate-centric culture. Developing and expanding relationships with community partners allows for unique perspectives and insights of the needs in the community to be shared and understood.(EPP Forum Minutes) Carefully listening to the needs identified by the community, the EPP works collaboratively with its partners to formulate and implement solutions to problems they are facing.
The EPP as well as the individual program areas have Advisory Boards (EPP Advisory Board Minutes). Advisory board members, who serve in geographically and socioeconomically diverse school districts and agencies, provide feedback and guidance on the quality, selectivity and recruitment measures implemented by the EPP. This input allows the EPP to gather data about changes occurring in educational spaces and allows for collaboration to occur, informing how educational programming at the university might change to create the best experience for candidates.
Community partnerships also afford candidates opportunities to experience life and work within a variety of roles inside and outside of traditional educational environments.These experiences foster relationships between candidates, faculty members and partners creating deeper and richer connections with the community. Nurturing and engaging in these relationships allows the EPP to offer more diverse experiences for its candidates while simultaneously supporting the community to address complex issues.
Purposefully establishing and expanding partnerships with community agencies and schools, the EPP connects learning and communities increasing candidate engagement, boosting academic outcomes, and promoting understanding of the community, region, and world (i.e., place-based education). Consequently, the EPP is better-equipped to be strategic and intentional in its actions, and to provide value to both candidates and community partners. The EPP, then, moves beyond simply acting as a resource to serving as an integral part of Northwest Indiana. In doing so, community members can expect high quality, diverse candidates and completers who seek to work, live and be part of their community.
Goal Two: Increase diversity of candidates entering and completing EPP degree/licensure programs to align with the demographics of the region
Goal two, another outward focus, aims to increase the diversity of the candidates in the EPP. Over the last 30 years, concern about the diversity in the educator workforce has dominated the national conversation (Partelow, Spong, Brown, & Johnson, 2017). Evidence from research indicates that teachers of color improve academic achievement for students of color and are perceived positively by their students (Carver-Thomas, 2018). Further, research shows that when people from diverse backgrounds and experience are brought together they generate innovative ideas, engage in varied experiences, and develop a more inclusive place for learning that acknowledges the diverse needs and strengths of learners. Enrollment data for the EPP at PNW revealed that degree programs within the EPP lack racial diversity (Undergraduate and Graduate Ethnicity Tables). Similar to national trends, data for the EPP suggests that African American and Native American candidates are low and the gap between Latinx candidates and students in schools remains large. Specifically, African Americans represent 16.7% of the population of counties served by PNW. However, within the EPP, only 3.4% of the candidates identify as African American. While the EPP’s percentage of Latinx candidates (17.4% Fall 2019) is higher than the Latinx percentage residing in the counties that PNW serves (14.7%), this population is increasing in the greater Chicagoland region. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of Latinx public high school graduates is projected to increase 30% between the academic years 2012-2013 and 2026-20271.
Further, evidence suggests that promoting gender equity in the educational workforce does not garner equal priority to racial and ethnic diversity; in fact, there is evidence suggesting that more female representation in science and math classrooms may be beneficial (Hansen & Quintero, 2018). Within the PNW EPP, the general consensus is that attention to gender diversity within the EPP is imperative to creating inclusive and diverse learning spaces. EPP data illustrate male candidates (21.2%) pursuing education degrees/licensure falls below the national average of 23% (IES, 2018). Further, this percentage is disproportionate to that of the institution as a whole (45% of the student population of PNW identifies as male), and is not representative of the population of males living in the counties served by PNW (Undergraduate Gender).
Another area for consideration when cultivating inclusive and diverse classrooms, are the educational and workforce needs determined by national and state entities. In this context and time, the greatest needs for educators are in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The U.S.Department of Education states that, “If we want a nation where our future leaders, neighbors, and workers have the ability to understand and solve some of the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce, building students’ skills, content knowledge, and fluency in STEM fields is essential” (USDoE, 2019). In 2017-2018, the state of Indiana issued 186 emergency permits in mathematics5. The STEM teacher shortages are not of concern in Indiana issue, but a national issue that has existed for over a decade6. Towards this end, the EPP at PNW analyzed enrollment data to determine its ability to recruit and retain candidates in the STEM fields. Data indicate low enrollment across the STEM disciplines (Undergraduate Fall 2019 EPP Program Enrollment).
Additional Teacher Shortage Areas (i.e., one in which there is an inadequate supply of educators) for Indiana are found in Early Childhood Education and World Languages (Wang, 2019). These shortage areas are reflected in the current candidate demographics at PNW. Only 13 candidates were enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program in fall 2019 (Undergraduate Fall 2019 EPP Program Enrollment). Similarly, during fall 2019, 9 candidates were enrolled in a world language educator preparation program (7-Spanish, 2-French). Employment of preschool teachers is projected to grow by 10% from 2016-20267, and by 6% for World Language educators.
Goal Three: Create unique and diverse opportunities for candidates to engage in their profession
Goal three, an inward focus, calls for the EPP to create a candidate-centric culture. For this goal, the EPP was compelled to look at the policies and practices currently in place and how these were balanced with the needs and wants of candidates. Candidates, academic advisors, and faculty members engaged in a dialectical process surrounding field-based experiences utilized as part of the EPP’s “practice-based teacher education” (Ball & Cohen, 1999). These field-based experiences occur in conjunction with foundation or methods classes throughout a candidate’s plan of study and are intended to provide opportunities for candidates to apply theories, strategies, and understandings developed in university coursework in P-12 settings. This endeavor revealed that candidates’ experiences in field placements varied widely, as did the expectations of faculty members. To ensure standardized, consistent and quality field experiences, guides for each field-based experience were created. Field guides articulate and communicate outcomes for each experience, fostering a developmental approach. (Field guides).
Integrated within each of these field-based experiences is a Service Learning Project during which candidates engage with the partner school/agency for its benefit. Service Learning is a dynamic and practical teaching method that connects university classroom content and skills with meeting community-identified needs. This balanced combination of community service and academic content is grounded in critical, reflective thinking, and civic responsibility. (Bringle and Hatcher, 1995). Striving for mutual benefit fulfills the goals and aims of the REW and establishing reciprocity with schools and agencies strengthens these partnerships.
Simultaneously, community-based field experiences (Greunewald & Smith, 2010) were created to provide additional opportunities for candidates to engage and practice their profession. The Purdue Educational Leader (PEL) Fellows are one such experience available to candidates. It was designed to simultaneously address the shortages of substitute teachers in the region while providing instructional experiences, professional growth opportunities, and employment for PNW candidates. PEL Fellows work in schools providing a combination of services: substitute teaching and/or working with students in other ways such as small group instruction, enrichment, and intervention. While developing skills and knowledge of their profession, PEL fellows earn money and valuable experience. (PEL Fellow brochure). Beginning in spring 2020, undergraduate candidates in their final year of their degree program participate in the Professional Year, a yearlong placement in a school. This placement affords candidates opportunities to work alongside master educators for a year, learning how to set-up classrooms, establish routines, and engage with curriculum. Candidates become part of the school community and provide additional resources for meeting learners’ need (Student Teaching Field Guide; Student Teaching Course Syllabus).
Expanding access to local expertise, allows educators to support high-quality academic and enrichment experiences through better use of community resources (US Department of Education). The EPP initiative, Transform:Local, offers such experiences each semester to engage prospective and current candidates with resources available to educators in Northwest Indiana. During spring 2020, candidates will participate in a daylong exploration of the educational resources offered at museums and cultural institutions in Chicago. (Transform Local flyer)
The EPP demonstrates that “the quality of candidates is a continuing and purposeful part of its responsibility from recruitment, at admission, through the progression of courses and clinical experiences, and to decisions that completers are prepared to teach effectively and are recommended for certification” (CAEP, 2013). Specific academic, dispositional, and performance requirements have been established by the EPP for candidates throughout their programs of study. Candidates are continuously monitored through an academic review process, which has transformed from a single individual to a process utilizing a team approach. The primary and key strategic tool for this is the STAR Report, a tracking and monitoring system that includes data for every candidate as they progress through the program. Maintained by the EPP Office of Recruitment and Retention, the STAR Report allows for oversight of individual performance as well as the examination of trends among subsets of candidates (i.e., specific programs or cohorts). This comprehensive assessment of a candidate’s overall performance, includes both academic and non-academic factors. Additionally, the STAR Report allows for identification of patterns, creating targeted and purposeful recruitment and retention efforts. The database includes: field placements; scores from the interview, disposition, STOT, and required standardized tests (SAT, ACT, CASA, CORE, etc.) (STAR Report).
Prospective candidates are identified to interview for program admission when they have enrolled in EDPS 28500 or EDST 27000 or prior to the completion of nine credits of graduate course work. The EPP uses the SoEC Interview to determine if prospective candidates meet CAEP minimum standards. Candidate GPA, test scores, professional dispositions and academic transcripts are reviewed by the EPP Leadership Team as the initial checkpoint for selection into a plan of study. As per CAEP, “the minimum requirement is a GPA of 3.0 and a group average performance on nationally normed assessments or substantially equivalent state-normed assessments of mathematical, reading, and writing achievement in the top 50 percent of those assessed.” In Fall 2019, the average education candidate GPA is equal to or exceeds the CAEP requirement: the average undergraduate GPA is 3.0; the average graduate candidate GPA is 3.61; and the average Transition to Teach candidate GPA is 3.64. Additionally, the EPP has chosen to implement a minimum competency requirement for candidates (score of 220 or higher on each of the three sections of the CASA; GRE, 301; ACT, 24; or SAT,1100). The basic skills competency requirement is waived for applicants with a Master’s degree from an accredited institution.
Once eligibility is confirmed, an email invitation is sent to prospective candidates with application instructions for potential admission (EPP Application). Prospective candidates who complete and submit the application receive an email with the interview date and time, the rubric and an outline of what to expect during the interview (Outline and Rubric for Education Interview). Prospective candidates are required to submit a presentation outline prior to the interview and provide a resume at the interview. Through the SoEC Interview process, candidates, faculty, advisors and community partners become acquainted and learn about the goals, expectations and needs of the candidate and the program. There are three possible outcomes from the interview: admission, provisional admission, and denial.
On the interview day, interview panels comprised of faculty members, academic advisors and/or community partners are convened. Prospective candidates complete a prompted, timed (20 minutes) writing sample, selected from four prompts. This writing sample is evaluated by the interview panel for clarity, coherence and the use of conventions. If the panel determines that a prospective candidate needs support in the area of written communication, referrals to university resources are provided. After completing the writing prompt, prospective candidates move to individual rooms to meet the respective interview panel. Prospective candidates share their presentation which is followed by an interview with the panel. The interview panel evaluates the prospective candidate’s dispositional qualities, such as poise and confidence, organization, listening skills, professional dress, and body language. If warranted, candidates are encouraged to schedule an appointment with Career Services to improve their professional and interpersonal skills. Candidates may also be required to apply to re-interview in a subsequent semester if concerns are noted.
A review of the interview process and discussion of its reliability occurs during both program and EPP advisory board meetings (EPP Forum Minutes). Community partners offer their perspective regarding the interviews. They provide valuable feedback and allow candidates to make early connections within the community. Analysis of the interview data allows the EPP to identify areas of need within the programs. Candidates averaged a 30/36 on the interview, with a 3.1/4 average on writing, 3.4/4 average on presentation, and a 3.4/4 average on the interview (EPPWide Results for Overall Interview and by Component Area). It appears that candidates, in general, perform satisfactorily in this experience, especially in the areas of presentation and interviewing skills. Candidate performance on the writing sample is an area for growth and the referral process for candidates to receive support has been established.
Selecting and Monitoring Candidates
To further ensure that candidates are able to teach college- and career-ready standards, the EPP created a set of criteria to monitor candidate advancement from admissions through completion. Upon admission to a plan of study, candidates are encouraged to schedule an appointment with an advisor and/or attend a group advising session to review program progression and discuss program advancement. Academic advisors continue to monitor candidate progress throughout the program, typically in individual meetings to discuss the plan of study, GPA requirements, field requirements and licensure testing requirements (pedagogy and CORE exams).
Candidate understanding of content knowledge begins with the completion of general education requirements for undergraduates and baccalaureate degrees for graduates. These understandings are monitored and further developed in disciplinary methods coursework. Candidates create and implement lesson plans which are evaluated. This data is used to monitor candidates developing understanding of content as well as how to design and implement learning opportunities so that all learners are successful ( Content lesson plan rubrics and descriptions). Graduate candidates are required to complete CORE licensure testing (i.e., state licensure testing in their disciplinary area) prior to admission into the program of study.
The EPP considers candidate dispositions and performance in clinical field placements to be essential criteria for selectivity of candidates. Beyond the initial interview process, the EPP has established various checkpoints for evaluating dispositions of its candidates throughout their programs of study. Once admitted, candidates advance into professional field-based courses where they further develop content knowledge and acquire pedagogical knowledge and skills (Programs of Study). They are assessed at three points in their program: early, mid, and late. Additional criteria have been established for candidate performance at each of these points in time, building upon previous evaluations of performance and dispositions.
There are instances when concerns about a candidate’s disposition or performance must be addressed. The EPP has implemented a process to identify, address and resolve these concerns in a non-punitive manner. When a faculty member, advisor, staff member or clinical educator identifies a dispositional or performance issue, they complete a Student Performance Review (SPR) (SPR). The candidate receives a copy of this report and it is submitted to the SoEC Director to determine if it should be forwarded to the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) for review. The SAC Review includes a meeting with the candidate and the individual who filed the SPR. The SAC determines if any next steps are to be taken to support the candidate. A report is placed in the candidate’s file which is maintained throughout their plan of study. This documentation of dispositional, grade, or attendance issues then are then in this central location.
The EPP faculty members convene each semester to share any concerns about candidates (Smoky Room Minutes). This ensures that candidates with dispositional, ethical, grade, or attendance issues are tracked and monitored. This information is added to the STAR Report and used to efficiently track any dispositional or academic concerns. As a comprehensive assessment of the candidate’s overall performance throughout their plan of study, including both academic and non-academic factors, the STAR Report allows for patterns of behavior and issues of concern to be measured across semesters.(STAR Report). By compiling this data, the EPP is able to regularly assess and implement support strategies for the candidates. Issues of concern raised during the Smoky Room are noted in the STAR Report and plans are made to provide appropriate support. Workshop topics and/or proactive campus referrals that address areas of need include writing improvement, resume help, interview preparation, professional dress, and test preparation.
Undergraduate and graduate academic advisors use a combination of three systems to monitor candidates’ academic progress and advancement: EPP Candidate Database (STAR Report); Student Success Collaborative (SSC) Navigate; and DegreeWorks, the institution’s degree audit system. This technology allows the SoEC Director and advisors to enter course substitutions, exceptions, and any other curriculum adjustments. At the end of each semester, academic advisors request an Institutional Research report to identify candidates who have not met grade requirements for their programs of study (C- or lower for undergraduates; B- or lower for graduates). If a candidate’s performance is lower than the requirements, the academic advisors notify the candidate and create steps to rectify the situation.
To provide ongoing support, all undergraduate candidates who have earned less than 30 credit hours in their program are required to meet with their academic advisor prior to registration each semester. Additionally, the advisor conducts group advising sessions for each cohort. In both individual and group advising sessions, upcoming courses, other requirements and the next steps specific to each cohort (e.g., licensure testing, field experience, student teaching, graduation application process, etc) are discussed. Graduate candidates receive specific plans of study developed in conjunction with their academic advisor outlining the course required and semester in which it is to be completed. Prior to course registration each semester, the graduate academic advisor sends individualized recommendations for coursework, advising meetings, and/or supports for the upcoming semester.
In the semester prior to their professional year (i.e., final year of the plan of study), undergraduate candidates are reviewed for eligibility to advance. Specifically, their GPA, performance in field-based courses, and interviews with clinical partners are reviewed. At the midpoint of the professional year, undergraduate candidates are again reviewed for eligibility to continue into their final semester. Graduate candidates must also meet eligibility requirements prior to student teaching. Finally, when candidates submit their intent to graduate from the EPP, the licensing advisor completes an audit of their academic records to confirm that all candidates have satisfied program requirements.
Candidates participate in “practice-based teacher education” (Ball & Cohen, 1999) to apply theories, strategies, and understandings developed in university coursework in P-12 settings. To standardize and provide consistent, quality field experiences, guides for field-based experiences were created. Field guides articulate and communicate outcomes for each experience and promote a developmental approach for novice educators (Field guides). They ensure that candidates and clinical educators understand the requirements of the EPP. Since all clinical educators, including community partners, cooperating teachers and university supervisors, spend time observing candidates as they implement learning segments, interact with learners and establish an effective learning environment the STOT is used as a framework for these observations and can be used for coaching and mentoring of candidates. By highlighting areas of improvement outside of the university classroom, a holistic approach is created to monitor and implement early interventions for the candidates. The STOT provides additional dispositional assessment to assure candidates are prepared to be well-educated and ethical teachers
Before the PNW SoEC recommends any candidate for licensure or certification, the EPP documents that he/she understands the expectations of the profession which include an understanding and commitment to codes of ethics, professional standards of practice, and laws and policies. The EPP has adopted the professional learning and ethical practices from the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) Standard 9, which outlines recommended ethical codes of conduct and professional standards of educators (InTASC Standard 9). Candidates are introduced to the code of ethics during the introductory courses (i.e., EDPS 28500, EDPS 56800 and EDST 27000). When candidates submit the application for admission to the programs, they are required to confirm they have read and understand the code of ethics (EPP Application). Ethical practices in teaching are a focus in the early program courses (e.g., EDCI 35500 for secondary and elementary education majors, EDPS 27700 and EDPS 27900 for early childhood candidates, and EDPS 56800 Social, Legal and Ethical Issues in Education). The code of ethics is listed in the candidate handbook (Codes of Ethics in the Candidate Handbook), which candidates read and sign upon admission into the program. The STAR Report is used to track and monitor this process. (STAR Report)
The candidates understand the relevant laws and policies through an EPP standardized syllabus template which also includes a statement on the code of ethics and expectations of the profession. This standardized template allows for uniformity across all programs while allowing each professor to tailor it to course needs. Candidates enrolled in the EPP’s undergraduate and graduate special education programs have a required special education law course. To confirm that candidates understand the InTASC professional standards for practice, specific assignments have been identified throughout each plan of study forming Program Area Key Assessments (PAKA). These key assessments are uploaded into Taskstream and candidate performance is analyzed each semester during Data Dialogue Days, affirming that professional standards of practice are understood by candidates.
Candidates in the EPP demonstrate their understanding of the expectations of the profession by completing the edTPA, a performance-based assessment completed during student teaching and scored by external evaluators. This assessment provides evidence of candidates’ abilities to design and implement instruction that positively impacts classroom learning. Additionally, during the student teaching semester, candidates complete CPR/AED and QPR (suicide prevention training) certification workshops as part of licensure requirements.
Finally, candidates gain understanding of the relevant laws and policies during field experiences through onboarding processes at the host school during which they are introduced to the school’s policies, practices and legal requirements.