Overview I.1

By Carnegie classification, Towson is a Masters (Comprehensive) University. The suburban campus is located ten miles from downtown Baltimore, Maryland and an hour from Washington, D.C. Towson’s mission statement identifies Towson as “the state’s comprehensive Metropolitan University,” offering

a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts, sciences, arts and applied professional fields…. Towson emphasizes excellence in teaching, scholarship, research and community engagement responsive to the needs of the region and the state….The certification and professional development of educators has been and will remain central to Towson University’s future….the largest single provider of certified teachers in Maryland, Towson plays a leadership role in the continuing professional development of the state’s educators. The College of Education’s strategies for improving the quality of teacher preparation serve as regional and national models, as do its highly regarded Professional Development School Network and the professional development programs of its different centers and projects. (R.I.5.a.1, Undergraduate Catalog, 2013-14, p. 205) 

Towson is a member of the University System of Maryland (USM), which includes 12 institutions and two regional higher education centers.  A Board of Regents has oversight over the USM campuses. President Maravene Loeschke arrived in January 2012. The University Senate and its committees develop university policies and procedures, and serves in an advisory capacity to the President.

The University has six divisions (Academic Affairs, Administration and Finance, Division of Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research, Student Affairs, University Advancement, and University Marketing and Communications). The Division of Academic Affairs is composed of seven colleges (Business & Economics, Education, Fine Arts & Communication,  Health Professions, Liberal Arts, Jess and Mildred Fisher College of Science & Mathematics, Honors), and an Office of Graduate Studies. The provost is the chief academic officer and vice president of Academic Affairs.

Towson was founded in Baltimore City in 1866 as The Maryland State Normal School. In 1915, it moved to its current location, becoming the Maryland State Teachers College at Towson in 1935, offering a BS degree in education. The institution's mission was expanded in 1946 with the introduction of a variety of degree programs in the arts and sciences, and ongoing programmatic expansion led to its becoming Towson State College in 1963. The move to a more diverse academic portfolio resulted in the transition to Towson State University in 1976 and Towson University in 1997.

Towson is the second-largest public university in Maryland with fall 2013 enrollment of 22,499 (83% undergraduate, 17% graduate). Of the undergraduate population, 88% attended full-time, 60% were women, and 35% belonged to racial or ethnic minorities or were identified as two or more races, foreign or other/unknown. The majority of graduate students were part-time (68%) and female (70%); 36% belonged to racial or ethnic minorities or identified themselves as two or more races, foreign or other/unknown. In fall 2013, the University employed 870 full-time faculty (68% tenured/tenure-track, 32% non-tenure-track) and 202 FTE part-time faculty. Among the full-time tenured/tenure-track faculty, 35% were at the rank of full professor, 30% associate, and 35% assistant. The full-time faculty was 52% female and 48% male, with 20% having diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds.

Towson has achieved national prominence as a premier metropolitan comprehensive university by offering a wide-range of excellent graduate and undergraduate degree programs and by increasing its regional and national reputation through its focus on student learning, innovative programs and pedagogies, faculty creativity and scholarship, applied and sponsored research, service and outreach to business, education, non-profit and health care organizations.

Overview I.2

Towson adheres to the twin maxims that the preparation of educators is an all-university responsibility, and that preparation programs thrive in a university culture that demands and values quality teaching. University-wide coordination of professional education programs is vested in the Teacher Education Executive Board (TEEB). Chaired by the Dean of the College of Education, the TEEB includes representatives from all (29) undergraduate and graduate education programs at the University, involving five of the six academic colleges. A long-established standing committee of the University Senate, TEEB’s decisions are recognized as official policy for all professional education programs. This governance structure has provided a supportive and inclusive system within which the unit has been able to fulfill its approved mission. Thus, the Professional Education Unit is the TEEB. As chair of TEEB, the Dean of the College of Education is the unit head. (See R.6.4.a.1,2,3, R.6.4.b.1.)

The mission and vision of the Professional Education Unit, closely aligned with both Towson 2020 and the university’s mission statement, is to inspire, educate, and prepare facilitators of active learning for diverse and inclusive communities of learners in environments that are technologically advanced.

In fall 2013, 2,740 candidates were enrolled in initial preparation programs and 1267 candidates were enrolled in advanced preparation programs. Full-time professional education faculty for fall 2013 totaled 196 across 29 programs involving five of the six academic colleges; they are supported by part-time faculty. There are five full-time administrators charged with unit responsibilities. Graduate assistants do not teach or supervise candidates.

Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) data confirm that Towson graduates the largest number of initial teacher certification candidates in Maryland (S.I.1).

Overview I.3

See R.I.5.e.1 and R.I.5.d.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 for a complete unit profile, including accreditation status. While most programs are housed in the College of Education, preparation programs are offered across the unit:

Initial Preparation

  • College of Education:  Early Childhood (ECED), Elementary (ELED), Special Ed., Integrated ECED/Special Ed., Integrated ELED/Special Ed., Middle Level Ed.; Secondary Ed. (thirteen content areas)
  • College of Fine Arts and Communication:  Art Ed., Music Ed, Dance Ed.
  • College of Health Professions:  Physical Ed. (Kinesiology), Health Ed.

Advanced programs for licensed teachers

  • College of Education:  M. Ed. programs in Early Childhood, Elementary, Special Ed., Secondary Ed.
  • College of Fine Arts and Communication:  M. Ed. in Art Ed., M.S. in Music Ed.
  • College of Health Professions:  M.S. programs in Health Ed., Kinesiology
  • Fisher College of Mathematics and Science:  M.S. in Mathematics Ed.

Advanced programs for other school personnel

  • College of Education:  M. S. in School Library Media, M. Ed. in Reading, M.S. in Educational Leadership
  • College of Liberal Arts: M.S./CAS in School Psychology
  • College of Health Professions:  M.S. in Speech Language Pathology, Au.D. in Audiology

Off-campus offerings 

Initial Preparation: Early Childhood, Elementary, Special Ed., Integrated ECED/Special Ed., Integrated Elementary/Special Ed.
Advanced programs for licensed teachers: Early Childhood, Special Ed.
Advanced programs for other school personnel: School Library Media, Educational Leadership, and Reading. Educational Leadership also offers a fully online program.
Off-campus sites include:
 USM regional higher education centers at Universities at Shady Grove (Montgomery County), Southern Maryland Higher Ed. Center (St. Mary’s County, Maryland); University Center @ Higher Ed. and Applied Technology Center (Harford County); Waldorf Center (College of Southern Maryland, Charles County, Maryland). School system sites are Middle States approved sites.

Overview I.4

The Conceptual Framework for Professional Education (CF) has been updated to reflect changes in the professional environment, but its fundamental tenets remain unchanged. Based upon a foundation of shared, performance-based beliefs describing what educators should know and be able to do to improve student learning, the unit has a single CF for initial and advanced preparation programs that is aligned to national, state, and institutional professional standards (R.I.5.c.1). Reflecting the university’s mission statement, it provides direction for unit programs, courses, teaching, candidate performance, scholarship, service, and unit accountability.

The unit's ongoing review and assessment of current internal and external environments, professional literature, and the wisdom of practice validated the CF’s mission statement, to inspire, educate, and prepare facilitators of active learning for diverse and inclusive communities of learners in environments that are technologically advanced. As a result, the unit’s mission and the vision statement have not changed since the last accreditation. The vision statement operationalizes the mission and philosophy through seven integrated themes/goals/commitments, all of which are focused on ensuring "the readiness of all learners to succeed in a rapidly changing, diverse, and highly technical world." The 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.

Reflecting the belief that preparation of educators is a collaborative, P-16 responsibility, the CF has been shared with and developed by TEEB/unit faculty, candidates, P-12 educators, and the unit's MSDE liaison.  The revised CF was formally adopted by the TEEB in December, 2012.

Candidate proficiencies  

The alignment of mission, vision, and standards-based outcomes is captured in the CF graphic (R.I.5.c.2). The CF provides the context for developing and assessing standards-based candidate proficiencies, and these are clearly articulated in the CF’sintegrated themes.
The unit adopted the 2011 InTASC Standards as its performance-based standards at the initial level, and program-specific 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. Maryland standards are also integrated in program development (e.g., Institutional Performance Criteria based on The Redesign of Teacher Education, Instructional Leadership Framework). (Syllabi are in R.I.5.b)

Commitment to diversity

The unit’s commitment to diversity is repeatedly addressed in the CF, including but not limited to:

  • mission statement
  • Theme 2: Repertoire of instructional and assessment strategies: the InTASC and/or SPA Standards specifically address diversity, and are systematically assessed as part of the Unit Assessment System. (For ex., InTASC 2: Learner Differences, SPA-specific diversity proficiencies)
  • Theme 3: Preparing educators for diverse and inclusive communities of learners, including required field and clinical experience in diverse and inclusive settings, and incorporates Maryland's Institutional Performance Criteria based on The Redesign of Teacher Education: IV-Diversity.
  • Theme 5 of the CF, helping develop, internalize, and display professional conscience, identifies the unit’s Essential Dispositions for Educators that our P-16 community values in teachers and other professional school personnel (R.1.4.e.1). The Essential Dispositions are systematically assessed during the unit’s educator preparation programs.

Commitment to technology

Theme 4 of the CF, "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. Technology has been infused throughout unit programming and is perceived as an integral component of the teaching/learning process, including the unit assessment system. As indicated, the unit utilizes the 2011 InTASC Standards as its performance-based standards at the initial level, and the program-specific guidelines and standards of Specialized Professional Associations (SPA) at the initial and advanced levels as performance outcomes, and bases for programs and/or unit assessments. Both specifically address a commitment to technology, and are systematically assessed as part of the Unit Assessment System. This commitment drove the unit’s development of an additional, InTASC-like, eleventh performance-based standard for initial preparation programs, which is assessed in all of the unit-wide InTASC-based assessments.

Assessment system

Aligned with NCATE unit Standard II, the assessment system for initial certification and advanced programs demonstrates/incorporates:

  • alignment with the Conceptual Framework,
  • candidate proficiencies identified in current professional, state, and institutional standards,
  • common assessments of knowledge, skills, and dispositions that evaluate candidates' ability to work with all learners.
  • multiple assessments - from both internal and external sources - required at multiple transition points before program completion and in practice, and
  • annual, systematic collection, analysis, evaluation, and use of data to assess and improve candidate performance, program quality, unit operations, and overall unit performance, as well as to study of the effects of previous, data-based changes.

2014 Institutional Report - Overview Section