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Professional & Pedagogical Knowledge & Skills For Teacher Candidates

Candidates in elementary and secondary programs learn and refine professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills in their program courses and practicum experiences. Even in prerequisite courses, candidates begin to build their knowledge of child and adolescent development and begin to examine the foundations and issues in education. Once in the program, candidates focus on the learning theories and practices delineated in the Standards of Effective Practice. In field experiences, they use growing professional knowledge to create meaningful learning experiences for students. Candidates participate in various reflective assignments so that they can understand how their decisions will impact their students’ growth. Assignments require them to consider prior knowledge, community contexts, and diverse needs of students.

Key Program Assessments of Professional and Pedagogical Knowledge include the candidate portfolios and the summative evaluations of student teaching completed by cooperating teachers and university supervisors. These data reveal that high percentages of candidates are proficient or above in their performance related to student learning, diverse learners, professional development, collaboration, ethics, and relationships.

In the state of Minnesota, candidates for initial licensure must pass the Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT). Candidates in both elementary and secondary education programs do well on the Praxis II content examinations as indicated by Praxis II Trend Data and by the 2006-2008 data shown in Table 4. In fact, 100% of our candidates have passed the PLT exam since 2002. The state pass rate for Minnesota is 98%. The Educational Testing Service gives Recognition of Excellence Awards to candidates who score in the top 15% of the test takers on eleven of the Praxis series, including the PLT for elementary and secondary programs. In 2008, 50% of the elementary candidates and 33% of secondary received recognition of excellence for their performance on the Praxis II: PLT.

Follow-up surveys of graduates and employers are administered in the first year of the graduate’s teaching experience. The three-year average response rate is 58% for graduates and 63% for employers. The exact response rates for group and year are included on the matrix.

As shown in the Follow-Up Surveys of Professional and Pedagogical Knowledge, both graduates and their employers generally give high ratings on survey items related to candidate preparation in this area. Pleased with the overall ratings, we note areas for further analysis. Graduate responses have been slightly lower in the area of understanding of teacher and student rights and responsibilities and in the area of consultation with parents and others. Based on this data, we have bolstered the expectation of candidates to address these skills in student teaching assignments and hope to see improvement in future survey results.