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Student Learning For Teacher Candidates

Student learning for all students in all places is at the center of our conceptual framework. To prepare candidates for effective instruction, courses and field experiences focus on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to help them reach all students. This focus forms the basis of many assignments throughout the program. All courses include assignments that lead to increased skill. Similarly, all field experiences include assignments or activities that focus on the candidate’s growth in understanding and effecting student learning. For example, all candidates learn and implement a variety of lesson plans. In each plan, they must include student-centered learning objectives with assessments linked to them. After teaching lessons, candidates must assess the lesson in terms of student performance on the assessments. In the UMM TEP assessment plan, three key assessments measure candidates’ ability to assess and analyze student learning. These are the Analysis of Student Learning, Summative Evaluation of Student Teaching, and the Candidate Portfolio.

Candidates complete the Analysis of Student Learning in the first five weeks of student teaching. They follow a unit plan to write a series of instructional lessons designed to meet specific goals and objectives. They collect and record assessment data as planned throughout the instruction. After completing the unit, candidates analyze and reflect upon the assessment data. They consider whole-group, sub-group, and individual data. They must link the assessment results to their own decisions and actions. They must also describe how they used or would use the assessment data to impact instruction. The Analysis of Student Learning Data reveals that UMM TEP candidates can successfully impact student learning and know how to use assessment data to do so. Based on the 2007 data, faculty restructured the assignment to increase instruction, adjust the assignment schedule, clarify expectations, and strengthen the scoring rubric. Average unit scores on the assignment increased from 73% to 82%. In a 2008 survey, candidates reported that the assignment helped them learn that assessment and assessment results were important. A majority of them reported that the analysis of data was the most meaningful part. The most common suggestions were for increased clarity in directions and expectations.

Program Assessments of Student Learning include relevant items from the Summative Evaluations of Student Teaching, completed both by university supervisors and cooperating teachers. The relevant items are student learning diverse learners, and assessment. The summative evaluations, based on performance during student teaching, show high ratings for UMM candidates in these three areas. The most recent data shows that 98 to 100% of the students earned ratings of proficient or above in their work with student learning and assessment.

Candidates also assess their own understandings of student learning, diverse learners, and assessment. They create reflective portfolios based on the ten standards of effective practice. In their portfolios, candidates write reflective essays on Standards 2 Student Learning, 3 Diverse Learners, and 8 Assessment. They describe their understanding and progress toward the standards, provide and explain evidence that supports growth, and write goals for the standards. Candidates complete the portfolios prior to student teaching. After student teaching, they address the standards again by rewriting their portfolio in ElEd/SeEd 4901. Based on the portfolio data and feedback from candidates, faculty altered the portfolio assignment in 2008 so that closely related standards would be addressed together in one essay, Standard 2 Student Learning and Standard 8 Assessment were joined for that purpose.

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.

Follow-Up Surveys of Student Learning show that employers have consistently rated graduates highly in areas of adapting to needs of students, use of instructional strategies, and evaluation. In the most recent survey results, 95-100% of graduates were viewed as prepared in these areas. Graduates who completed the survey also report being well prepared in areas related to student learning. Their responses reveal that most graduates felt prepared in their understanding of how learning occurs, how to use instruction to promote learning, and how to assess student performance.