Reflecting the Conceptual Framework (especially Themes 3 and 6), the unit and its public school partners employ varied and progressively responsible field and clinical experiences in diverse and inclusive communities of learners to support candidates' development of knowledge, skills, and dispositions to help all students learn.
Towson University Professional Development School Network
It is through the professional development school (PDS) initiative that Towson University and its P-12 partners have successfully collaborated to achieve distinction. Involving twelve Maryland school systems and including 103 sites, the success of the Towson University PDS Network has been repeatedly recognized nationally and in Maryland. In collaboration with the Baltimore County Public Schools, it was the recipient of the Association of Teacher Educators' 1998 Distinguished Program in Teacher Education. Additionally, the Towson/ Baltimore County Public Schools PDS Network served from 1998-2000 as one of NCATE's PDS Standards Field Test Project sites at a Baltimore County Public School. The Towson/Howard County Public Schools PDS Network was selected by the Maryland State Department PDS Standards Pilot at a Howard County Public School.
In 2003, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, Nancy Grasmick wrote: The Towson University College of Education has clearly established itself as Maryland's flagship teacher education institution, and in doing so is now a national leader. Its excellence has been marked through its professional development school accolades. . . . Towson's College of Education has embraced the state policy known as the "Redesign of Teacher Education," and has become a crucial model in the required institutional change processes necessitated by our policy. . . . Our state policy for improving teacher education and teacher professional development has taken on greater meaning through the efforts of your faculty and College of Education administration as they have implemented its principles. . . . The College of Education has shown my staff, Maryland local school systems, and the teacher education community nationwide how to improve teaching and learning for K-16 students in professional development schools. Your teacher education students are ready to teach upon graduation and are much more like second year teachers than their predecessors were. . . . As Maryland's preeminent teacher education institution, your College of Education has provided many forms of technical assistance to help all of Maryland's teacher education institutions implement the. . . the Redesign.
More recently, the PDS Network received the 2005 Excellence in Education Award from the Maryland Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. A recent, longitudinal retention research study conducted by Towson and a system PDS partner (which documented higher retention rates for PDS-prepared candidates) has been repeatedly cited as being instrumental research in driving the state's recent PDS funding legislation. Finally, due to the Network's recognition by the National Association of PDS Conference (NAPDS) as an exemplar, Towson's director of the unit's Center for Professional Practice (CPP) and PDS and PDS Institute chair was invited to NAPDS' summer 2007 PDS Summit to focus on national PDS issues. (Additional commendations for the PDS Network by leaders, scholars, and professional associations may be found in Exhibit 62).
Standard III. Element 1: Collaboration between Unit and School Partners
As indicated in Theme 6 of the Conceptual Framework, the unit believes that continuous improvement that ensures currency and standards of program excellence results from collaboration with multi-layered stakeholders. Most significantly, collaborative partnerships with P-12 schools provide the structure and clinical context to integrate University coursework for initial candidates and other school personnel with applications in field experiences and clinical practice. Reflecting national and Maryland standards for PDS, summer strategic planning meetings, ongoing PDS site and school system steering committees, and ongoing CPP-sponsored meetings for stakeholders ensure the collaborative nature of the partnerships (Exhibit 63).
The unit has a formal, written agreement (The Towson University and (school system) Partners and Mission: Agreement for the Provision of Field Experiences and Internships in Undergraduate and Graduate Programs) with each partner school district that governs all field and clinical experiences, including the Professional Year in PDS (Exhibit 64). The agreement identifies six goals for all experiences (e.g., culturally diverse settings, professional standards), and includes a separate section which defines PDS as a collaborative partnership.
Specifically, the agreement governs the systematic selection of field and clinical placements to facilitate quality experiences. Indeed, the first requirement in the agreement with school districts recognizes "the value of culturally diverse placements with exceptional learners" and requires each partner to "endeavor to assure that field placements are made in settings that are culturally diverse and sensitive to the needs of exceptional learners." (Diversity of placements is addressed in Standard IV, Element 4).
The CPP, a critical unit administrative office, is responsible for the overall collaboration with school partners, including PDS. All requests for field and clinical experiences are coordinated by the CPP and screened for approval and appropriateness of placement sites. It works closely with identified school system personnel (e.g., placement coordinators) and school leadership, department chairs, and unit faculty to provide appropriate field and clinical experiences for candidates in all initial certification programs as well as for School Library Media candidates. In recognition of the magnitude of this responsibility to the Conceptual Framework, the CPP's Director and two Assistant Directors are professional educators with recent field-based leadership experience in school systems. Possessing a wealth of knowledge regarding the schools and school systems, they are familiar with the Conceptual Framework, as well as individual department/program philosophies, objectives, and field experience requirements. As further recognition of expertise, the Director was instrumental in the planning and implementation of the NAPDS, its national conferences, and served a three-year term (2004-2007) as a member of its Executive Board that promoted and supported PDS throughout the nation.
The CPP models the technology emphasis of the Conceptual Framework through its online internship placement application and evaluation process, the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS). Through the TIMS and in collaboration with school systems, the CPP manages the professional year/capstone internship application process and assists in screening applicants. The TIMS is also used by school systems to streamline their administrative processes involved in placements for the unit. Further development of the TIMS has led to an on-line internship performance evaluation. The online internship evaluation process enables the electronic submission of performance evaluations and the aggregation and disaggregation of data.
Towson University has long been the largest producer of initial certification graduates in Maryland. As documented in Standard III, Element 2, the variety of program and/or content-specific (e.g., MATH 324, SCIE 376, and ARED 467) field and clinical experiences, and the size and scope of the Towson PDS Network requires/includes extensive and ongoing collaboration among numerous partners.
Accordingly, selection of placements for initial preparation programs and the School Library Media program is a collaborative responsibility of the CPP, individual unit departments/programs, and P-12 system and site partners. The CPP works closely with these stakeholders to identify appropriate placements in professional development settings and follows a prescribed protocol to engage P-12 partners in strategic planning for implementing standards and program goals for clearly defined expectations for performance. Representative examples of partners and a brief description of selected contributions include and are found in Table 59.
Table 59. Representative Partners and Selected Contributions
Placements for Other School Personnel
Standard III. Element 2: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Field Experiences and Clinical Practice
Reflecting the Conceptual Framework, interns study and practice in a variety of diverse and inclusive settings. (See Exhibit 66 and Standard IV, pp. 75-78, for information describing the diverse and inclusive characteristics of Towson's PDS). The design, implementation, and evaluation of field experience and clinical practice are collaborative processes (see Standard III, Element 1), guided by the formal Towson University and (school system) Partners and Mission: Agreement for the Provision of Field Experiences and Internships in Undergraduate and Graduate Programs (Exhibit 64), University and unit program requirements, SPA standards, Maryland's Redesign of Teacher Education, MSDE PDS Standards, and priorities of public schools partners. As previously noted, the CPP is the unit's primary link to its P-12 partners for the design, implementation, and evaluation of field and clinical experiences. Guidelines, requirements, and evaluations are found in programs' respective Internship Handbooks (Exhibit 67).
All professional education programs at Towson support candidates' learning in and from practice through extensive, varied, and progressively responsible field and clinical experiences with diverse and inclusive communities of learners. In most programs, field experiences are aligned with the emphasis of concurrent coursework. For example, in Elementary Education, Level I coursework focuses on literacy and the concurrent field experience is the ELED 363 Language and Literacy Internship.
Reflecting national and state standards (e.g., Redesign of Teacher Education, SPA, NCATE and Maryland PDS Standards), and supported and supervised by University and P-12 personnel, these experiences provide extensive and intensive authentic learning where preservice teachers and candidates for advanced certification have multiple opportunities to observe, participate, and build and refine a repertoire of knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Moreover, standards-based internship assessments require interns to demonstrate mastery of appropriate standards (e.g., INTASC, SPA).
Initial preparation candidates learn about exceptionalities and inclusion through SPED 301, Introduction to Special Education K-12, a universal requirement for all undergraduate programs. (SPED 637, Inclusion for the Classroom Teacher is the requirement in the MAT initial preparation program.) The associated field experiences ensure candidates' interactions with students with exceptionalities early in their professional programs. Candidates observe and complete reflection papers and may provide support for individual students under guidance of teachers. As a universal initial preparation requirement, they are not included in the program-specific descriptions in Table 60 (NCATE-required); therefore, total hours for programs do not include the special education requirement.
Table 60 documents the required and progressively responsible field and clinical experiences for each initial and other school personnel preparation program. In alignment with Maryland' PDS Standards, Towson University uses the term professional year to describe the final, yearlong PDS internship (which exceeds the minimum standard of 100 days). Due to the size of the unit and the number of field experiences, Table 60 identifies the program and the courses that include field experiences, clinical practice, and the total hours in each program.
Table 60. Field Experiences and Clinical Practice by Program (Initial Preparation)
Table 61. Program-specific Field Experiences and Clinical Practice
Use of Technology
Criteria for School-based Clinical Faculty
University Supervisor Professional Development
As noted, the CPP coordinates regular systematic professional development for university-based clinical faculty (in addition to the P-16 professional development meetings) to address issues and concerns and share resources and professional development opportunities regarding field and clinical experiences. Representative topics have included (Exhibit 70):
Additionally, at the end of each semester, interns evaluate their university supervisors, during the Program Evaluation process. These evaluations are summarized and shared with respective department chairs and university supervisors as part of the ongoing assessment of the supervisors and the internship component of the program of study (Exhibit 58). During the Annual Review process department chairs meet with university supervisors to discuss the data as well as needs for professional development. (See Standard V, pp. 86-87).
Regular and Continuous Support
The CPP holds three meetings per semester for interns during their capstone internship with the intent to highlight for the skills and strategies identified as areas of focus by local school systems. A consistent focus of the orientation and other meetings is to revisit and refocus on specific national and state priorities. Representative topics have included differentiating instruction to support student learning, Maryland Teacher Technology Standards, planning with Maryland P-12 content standards, focus on the learner/the importance of assessment, and diverse populations (Exhibit 70).
For mentors and other P-12 teachers and administrators. The unit provides regular and continuous support for mentors in numerous ways. For example, mentor training courses (EDUC 611) and workshops (Exhibit 72) are provided by the unit for the professional development and support of mentors. IHE liaisons and mentors have ongoing formal and informal conferences throughout internships to support intern learning. Finally, the CPP and individual programs provide mentors with a variety of materials (e.g., internship handbooks) to support their work with interns (Exhibit 67).
The CPP also holds regular joint meetings of PDS principals, school-based PDS site coordinators, and IHE PDS liaisons to enhance P-16 expertise. These "focus group" like meetings provide opportunity to address information, issues and concerns. Representative topics have included action research and service learning that focus on improving student learning, local school professional development that includes mentoring skills, curriculum and technology implementation, data analysis and planning, and standards implementation, high quality professional development that supports school improvement plans, and assessing interns' effects on student learning (Exhibit 70).
The decade old mission of the Towson Learning Network (TLN), an innovative and entrepreneurial outreach operation involving unit faculty (e.g., Fisher College of Science and Mathematics, College of Education), is to meet the ongoing professional development needs of teachers and school systems (e.g., Baltimore City, Prince Georges' County, Montgomery County), including initiatives related to federal (e.g., NCLB), and state (e.g., Reading, PDS) legislation as well as Maryland's shortages of teachers and other school personnel (Exhibit 73). The significant TLN incentive is the agreement with school-systems regarding tuition and payment for off-campus graduate coursework. The University accepts the school system's negotiated tuition reimbursement to its employees as full graduate tuition. Additionally, the agreement includes "lump sum billing" to the school system, thereby eliminating "up front, out of pocket" payments by the candidates.
REDESIGN OF TEACHER EDUCATION
(See Exhibit 74 for required PDS Abstracts and Summary Chart)
Interns in PDS & Diversity of Placements
Recognizing that exceptional populations have become part of the mainstream setting, all interns are assigned to the metropolitan area's classrooms which routinely provide initial and advanced level candidates with opportunities to interact with students with exceptionalities during required Special Education and other field and clinical placements. Exhibit 66 identifies all Fall 06 PDS, provides demographic information for each, and identifies the number of interns in each PDS. Through the unit's paired-site(s) PDS model, all interns experience working in diverse and inclusive P-12 schools. During the professional year, most interns are placed in two schools; the availability of mentors in ECED and SPED sometimes requires that an intern may be placed in three schools.
Minimum 100 Day Internship
Internships for Part-Time MAT Candidates
Standard III. Element 3: Candidates' Development and Demonstration of Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions to Help All Students Learn
Standard II explains in detail the standards-based assessments conducted during clinical practice. As described in Standard I, the TEEB Standards identify criteria for program and internship admission and continuation (Exhibit 4). As noted in Standard II, all candidates must also meet program-specific performance criteria established at each standards-based transition point.
Completion of the capstone internship requires candidates to demonstrate successfully the standards-based content, pedagogical and professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions, including demonstrated positive effect on P-12 student learning. The multiple summative assessments of candidate performance conducted are a shared responsibility among P-12 school and University faculty, and include:
The assessment results in Standard I consistently confirm that graduating interns demonstrate the standards-based knowledge, skills, and dispositions to help all students learn. Table 62 shows the number of interns who were eligible and the number who for successfully completed the capstone internship over the past three years. Data reveal a high completion rate for all programs. (See Exhibit 75 for program-specific data).
Table 62. Candidates Eligible for and Completing Capstone Clinical Experience
Reflection, analysis, and feedback, recognized as crucial to the developmental progress of candidates, are purposefully built into field experiences (e.g., observation logs, journals), clinical practice (e.g., seminars, peer review of portfolio), and required assessments (e.g., required portfolio reflections for each INTASC Principle). (See Exhibit 59, and Standard III, Element 2, pp. 54-60.)