Towson University had its previous NCATE/Maryland State Department of Education Initial Accreditation Visit on October 21-25, 2000. The NCATE Board of Examiners' Reportconcluded that the Professional Education unit's Conceptual Framework met NCATE Standard I.A, Conceptual Framework, with strength (Exhibit 9, p. 6). The Conceptual Framework for Professional Education has been updated to reflect changes in the professional environment during the last seven years, but its fundamental tenets remain unchanged. The unit has a single Conceptual Framework for initial and advanced preparation programs, aligned to national, state, and institutional professional standards (Exhibit 10). The revised Conceptual Framework has been shared with and developed by unit faculty, candidates, P-12 educators and administrators, and the unit's MSDE liaison.
The Structural Elements
Development of the university's strategic plan, mission and vision. The development of the current
strategic plan, mission, and vision statements for Towson University began with the arrival of the President Robert Caret in July 2003. After a year of broad internal and external engagement, a new strategic plan for the University, Towson 2010: Mapping the Future (2004), was finalized (Exhibit 3). In the evolution of its 2004 Strategic Plan and embedded goals, and in its revised mission statement (2005; Exhibit 5), Towson University reaffirmed its role as a premier, metropolitan comprehensive institution focused on teaching as well as its commitments to the foundation of a broad liberal arts education, competence in the use of technology, and its continued support for a diverse and inclusive learning community.
Development of the unit's Mission and Vision statements and Conceptual Framework. The unit's NCATE/MSDE Accreditation Steering Committee, established by the Teacher Education Executive Board (TEEB), held its initial meeting in January 2003 to identify tasks needed for its then-scheduled 2005 accreditation visit. Due to the sudden March 2003 death of the Dean of the College of Education/Chair of the TEEB, and the subsequent search for a new Dean, Towson received a two-year delay of its accreditation visit. Nevertheless, planning for and collection of evidence for the 2007 accreditation visit continued through the TEEB, several ad hoc committees (e.g., the 2003-2005 work of the Portfolio Assessment Ad Hoc Committee), and close attention to the external environment. In spring and fall 2005, the previous unit Mission and Vision Statements and
Conceptual Framework were distributed to the TEEB and College of Education faculty for review. A new NCATE Steering Committee was formed, held its first meeting in August 2005, and continued the change process for the unit's mission, vision, and
Conceptual Framework based on ongoing faculty feedback to the documents; alignment to
Towson 2010; response to continuing changes in the national and state policy environment; emerging research in the field; collaboration with our internal and external professional community of learners; national and State Program Report and unit accreditation requirements; and major changes in professional preparation.
The sixteen-month effort to review, revise, and update the Mission and Vision Statements and the
Conceptual Framework emphasized a unit-wide approach, involving internal and external stakeholders. The revised mission and vision statements were formally adopted by the TEEB in May 2005 (Exhibit 11); this enabled the final revisions to the
Conceptual Framework which was formally adopted by the TEEB in September 2006. (The detailed chronology of the preparation, including the participants, is found in
Appendix E of the
Mission and philosophy. The unit's extensive review and assessment of the current internal and external environment has validated the theme of the
Conceptual Framework's mission statement, originally identified in October 2000 -
to inspire, facilitate, and prepare educators as facilitators of active learning for diverse and inclusive communities of learners in environments that are technologically advanced. As a result, the mission of the
Conceptual Framework has not changed since the last NCATE visit.
Purposes and goals. The unit's vision statement operationalizes the unit's mission and philosophy through the
Conceptual Framework's seven integrated themes/goals/commitments that were revised in 2005-2006 (e.g., inclusion of the assessment system), all of which are focused on ensuring "the readiness of
all learners to succeed in a rapidly changing, diverse, and highly technical world." The seven integrated themes are: 1. Ensuring academic mastery; 2. Reflecting upon and refining best practices; 3. Preparing educators for diverse and inclusive classrooms; 4. Utilizing appropriate technology; 5. Developing professional conscience; 6. Developing collaborative partnerships; and 7. Providing leadership through scholarly endeavors.
Knowledge base. The revised and updated knowledge base that supports each of the seven themes/goals reflects historical and contemporary knowledge, research, theory, the wisdom of practice, and national and state educational policies (as identified in the extensive bibliography).
Candidate proficiencies, intended outcomes, and alignment with standards. While the philosophy of the
Conceptual Framework has not changed, there have been significant changes in emphasis and the content of each of the vision statement's seven integrated goals/commitments. These changes were made to ensure that candidates can demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of the respective professional, state, and institutional standards in their fields of specialization. The evolution of national and state policy initiatives, and the related emergence of evidence-based accreditation have refocused the University and the unit on the centrality of student
learning as the ultimate outcome of our work.
In a results-driven environment, educational effectiveness must be assessed through student achievement. While reaffirming our longstanding commitment to requiring solid content knowledge as a foundation, the unit has increased its emphasis on the following candidate proficiencies: assessment literacy (Fullan, 2005; NCATE 2005; Stiggins, 2000), demonstrated impact on learning for
allstudents, clearly observable common dispositions, diversity, and technology.
This alignment of mission, vision/goals, and standards-based knowledge, skills, and dispositions is captured in the
Conceptual Framework graphic. (See Exhibit 12 for alignment between the vision statement's seven integrated goals/commitments and NCATE, INTASC, and SPA standards).
Assessment system (Exhibit 13; also see the
structure of the system). Aligned with NCATE unit Standard II, the assessment system for
initial certification and
advanced programs demonstrate:
alignment with the Conceptual Framework,
alignment with professional, state, and institutional standards,
common assessments of knowledge, skills, and dispositions, and
multiple assessments - from both internal and external sources - required at multiple transition points; and systematic collection, analysis, evaluation, and use of data for improving candidate performance, program quality, unit operations, and overall unit performance.
Evidence of the Conceptual Framework throughout the Standards
Shared vision. Based upon a foundation of shared, performance-based beliefs describing what educators should know and be able to do to improve student learning. The
Conceptual Framework is grounded in the following: Towson University 2010: Mapping the Future, the University's strategic plan, the Teacher Education Executive Board's mission and vision statements, and the belief that preparation of educators is a collaborative, P-16 responsibility. It provides direction for unit programs, courses, teaching, candidate proficiencies, scholarship, service, and unit accountability.
Reflecting continuous, systematic assessment and internal and external reform efforts, the
Conceptual Framework has been revisited, expanded, and revised numerous times (1995-1996, 1997-1999, and in 2005-2006) since the initial development of the unit knowledge base in 1990. This continuous evolution, evidence of growth and vitality, has been inclusive, reflecting input, review and refinement from both internal and external stakeholders. Changes made to the document are reflective of a historical and contemporary knowledge base, comprising theory, research, the wisdom of practice, and national and state educational policies. (See
Appendices C-E for documentation of the continuous evolution of the
Conceptual Framework and the involvement of internal and external stakeholders; Exhibit 10).
Coherence. The coherence among standards-based curriculum, instruction, field experiences, clinical practice, and assessment for initial and advanced programs is the result of the unit's governance (TEEB) and adherence to shared mission, vision statements, integrated goals/commitments, and a comprehensive assessment system.
The TEEB decisions are recognized as official policy for all professional education programs at Towson. This governance structure has provided a coherent, supportive and inclusive system within which the unit has been able to fulfill its approved mission. Following are selected, standards-based examples that document the coherence within the unit:
The INTASC Principles (Exhibit 14) are the common outcomes and serve as the foundation for unit assessments of initial program (e.g., internship evaluation (Part I) by University supervisors and mentor teachers, portfolio evaluation by P-16 evaluators, program evaluation by interns, graduate surveys, employer survey).
Common formative and summative disposition assessment procedures for all programs assess the
Conceptual Framework's Essential Dispositions for Educators (Exhibit 15).
National association standards serve as the common outcomes and foundation for assessments for advanced programs (e.g., IRA for the M. Ed. in Reading).
Professional commitments and dispositions. The unit's professional commitments to content, pedagogical and professional knowledge, dispositions, and ability to impact student learning for teacher candidates and other school personnel are clearly articulated in the Conceptual Framework - in its mission statement as well as in the seven integrated themes of the unit's mission. The development of an assessment system aligned with the Conceptual Framework further validates the unit's commitments to knowledge, teaching competence, and student learning.
Helping develop, internalize, and display professional conscience, Theme 5 of the
Conceptual Framework specifically identified the Essential Dispositions for Educators that our P-16 community values in teachers and other professional school personnel. Not only have Essential Dispositions been identified for the first time, they are systematically assessed during our educator preparation programs. Through coursework assignments, field and clinical experiences, ongoing monitoring by school and University supervisors, and disposition assessments, candidates are required to demonstrate the
Conceptual Framework dispositions (Commitment to Professional Practice, Caring for the Success and Well-being of
All Students, and Collaboration with Colleagues and Stakeholders: Exhibit 15).
Commitment to diversity. Aligned with the University's commitment to diversity, the unit's
Conceptual Framework repeatedly and specifically addresses its commitment to preparing candidates to support learning for
all students. This commitment is evidenced throughout the Conceptual Framework, including but not limited to:
The unit's Mission Statement: To inspire, educate, and prepare educators as facilitators of active learning for diverse and inclusive communities of learners in environments that are technologically advanced.
Theme 2: Repertoire of instructional and assessment strategies, and the unit's adoption of the INTASC Principles as its performance-based standards at the initial level, and the standards of specialty organizations at the advanced level. Both the INTASC Principles and set of advanced standards specifically address a commitment to diversity, and are systematically assessed as part of the Unit Assessment System.
Theme 3: Preparing educators for diverse and inclusive communities of learners, including required field and clinical experience in diverse and inclusive settings.
Theme 5: Professional conscience, which includes the identification and required demonstration of
Essential Dispositions for Educators.
The unit's Conceptual Framework provides a basis for conceptual understanding of how knowledge,
dispositions, and diversity proficiencies are modeled, taught, and assessed across the curriculum, instruction, field experiences, and clinical practice. Confirmation of this commitment is documented at the initial and advanced levels through course syllabi, (e.g., EDUC 203, Teaching and Learning in a Diverse Society, EDUC 660, Teaching in a Multicultural Society); required field and clinical experiences with diverse and inclusive student populations; the internship evaluation form and other assessments that evaluate candidates' ability to work with and assist all students; and dispositions assessments that measure candidates' knowledge and demonstration of diversity-related knowledge, skills, and dispositions. A detailed explanation of how candidates demonstrate the unit's dispositions may be found in Standards I (pp. 31-33), and II (pp. 38-39). (See Exhibit 16 for program-specific implementation plans.)
Commitment to technology. Aligned with the University's mission statement ("competence in the use of technology"), Theme 4 of the unit
Conceptual Framework, "Utilizing appropriate technologies which reflect best practices in education," specifically reflects the unit's commitment to preparing candidates who are able to use educational technology to help all students learn. The University and the unit have made significant progress in their shared, ongoing commitment to ensuring student competence in the use of technology. Since 1996, all Towson undergraduates have been required to take one course in the General Education category
Using Information Effectively.
At the time of the 2000 accreditation visit, not all initial education candidates were required to take a second level technology integration course, and this was noted as a weakness in the State Team Report (2000; Exhibit 17). Since that time, program changes have resulted in the requirement that all initial candidates fulfill six credits in technology; for most education candidates, this is an ISTC 201, ISTC 301 sequence. Also, both courses have been revised to specifically address the Maryland Teacher Technology Standards as well as the International Society of Technology in Education Standards for Teachers.
Moreover, from 2002-2005, the College of Education's PT3 grant-funded Technology Integration Project
(Exhibit 18) spearheaded a unit-wide, technology-based faculty development program to integrate technology effectively. TIP employed a faculty-mentoring model to enhance faculty use of technology in content and professional education courses in the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Science and Mathematics, and Education, and extended its efforts to include the Professional Development School Network.
Overall, technology has been infused throughout unit programming and is
perceived as an integral component of the teaching/learning process. This
ongoing effort has been accompanied by investments in technology that extend
the capacity of every faculty member and student to connect with a wide
variety of resources and tools for teaching/learning, as well as the faculty
development necessary to use and model technology. In recognition of these
efforts since 2000, the unit was selected as the recipient of the 2003
Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Society for
Technology in Education (Exhibit 19).
Candidate proficiencies aligned with professional and state standards (Exhibit 12). The
Conceptual Framework provides the context for developing and assessing candidate proficiencies based on professional, state, and institutional standards. As noted, the unit has adopted the INTASC Principles as its performance-based standards at the initial level, and the guidelines and standards of Specialized Professional Associations (SPA) at the initial and advanced levels that are capable of capturing educators' reasoned judgments as their outcomes and bases for programs and/or unit assessments. State standards were also considered and integrated in program development (e.g., Maryland's
Redesign of Teacher Education, Reading First Initiative, and Instructional Leadership Framework) and in the development of the