Standard 3: Aspect D
Preparation programs ensure that candidates, upon completion, are ready to engage in professional practice, to adapt to a variety of professional settings, and to grow throughout their careers. Effective program practices include: consistent offering of coherent curricula; high-quality quality, diverse clinical experiences; dynamic, mutually beneficial partnerships with stakeholders; and comprehensive and transparent quality assurance processes informed by trustworthy evidence. Each aspect of the program is appropriate to its context and to the credential or degree sought.
Description of recruitment and admissions process:
The Education Specialist Credential Program shares an admissions process with the other Basic Credential Programs (Multiple Subject and Single Subject). This is centralized by 1) use of the Cal State Apply system (used by the 23 California State University campuses, an online application laid out clearly on our website, organizational support by our Admissions Analyst, Renee Flores, and oversight by the Special Education Program Coordinator, Cheryl McDonald. See Appendix A for our recruitment table and a detailed description of the application process.
How are shortages identified in region/state?
The Program Coordinator keeps track of shortages and needs throughout the Central Valley and in California. Moreover, there are personnel and resources she consults as follows:
Shortages in certificated special education teaching positions are identified at local, district, state and institutional levels. At the local level, school principals identify the needs at their school sites and request to hire qualified Education Specialists for vacant special education teaching positions. Based on their funding formula, facilities reports, and staffing projections, districts identify their projected needs for Education Specialists and recruit and offer teaching positions to the most qualified personnel that can be found. At the state level, data is collected twice yearly on the numbers of students birth-age 22 who are receiving special education supports and services, the types of services received, and the location of the student. This type of data is published as disability categories in California Data Dashboards. On these Dashboard links, information about the number and type of permits and credentials issued in each discipline in the prior academic years, can be viewed.
In addition, the Policy Analysis for California Education [PACE] Institute, an independent, non-partisan research center led by faculty directors at Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of California, Davis, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Berkeley collects data on California’s education workforce and works with state and local decision-makers to achieve improvement in performance and more equitable outcomes at all levels of California’s education system, from early childhood to postsecondary education and training. PACE and Stanford University released a report, Getting Down to Facts II (Darling-Hammond et al., 2018) [video summary here] which provided an in-depth analysis of California’s education system as of 2018 and looked at what is working well and where improvement is still needed.
The PACE report identified the following issues in California’s education system: California is in the midst of a severe and deepening shortage of special education teachers—and the shortage is dire. There have been persistent shortages of fully certified teachers, in large part due to a severe drop in teacher education enrollments and high attrition for special educators, and, as a result, students with disabilities who often have the greatest needs are frequently taught by the least qualified teachers. Nearly 8 in 10 California schools are looking to hire special education teachers, and 87 percent of principals at those schools report that hiring is a challenge (Darling-Hammond et al., 2018).
Compounding the limited supply of fully prepared special education teachers is the problem of turnover in special education. Between the 2015–16 and 2016–17 school years, more than one out of five teachers in special education schools left their positions, substantially more than in any other subject area (Darling-Hammond et al., 2018). When districts cannot fill a position with a fully prepared teacher, they have few good options: districts report dealing with shortages by hiring underprepared teachers (i.e., those entering with substandard credentials or permits), and temporary or long-term substitute teachers. During this same time period, more than one out of five teachers in special education schools left their teaching positions. Attrition of special education teachers is associated with inadequate preparation and professional development, challenging working conditions that include large caseloads, overwhelming workload and compliance obligations, inadequate support, and compensation that is too low to mitigate high costs of living and student debt loads.
Based on all of these sources, we can monitor where the trends and needs fall in California’s special education disciplines in the Central Valley and across the state. Lastly, we also consider capacity in terms of faculty, clinical practice placements, coaching, and mentor teacher support when considering how many students to admit.
How are candidates recruited to meet these shortages?
Applicants are actively recruited for fall, spring and summer semesters, when there is a summer residency. The Program Coordinator recruits in Liberal Studies undergraduate classes and in the Child Development Program each semester. The Coordinator presents information and participates in partner districts’ job fairs whenever possible. In our program prerequisite course, Introduction to Special Education, instructors actively recruit the undergraduate students enrolled in the course. The Program Coordinator also recruits at university events when time permits and has been known to recruit candidates walking across campus and while riding in the elevators at passing periods. Our Professors in Residence hold information sessions to recruit for the Fresno Dual and Clovis Education Specialist Teacher Residencies, which are well attended. The three advisors in the Kremen Advising Center offered information and advising to prospective candidates and open information sessions in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years to provide information and recruit credential candidates for all disciplines. There is also an informational video on the Kremen website.
The Coordinator actively seeks out and recruits persons of color, underrepresented populations, linguistically gifted candidates, second career candidates, paraeducators and instructional aides, and candidates who may not have previously considered a career in special education.
Description of Selection Process:
Overall, our selection process depends on applicants meeting our basic requirements, which include Basic Skills, GPA, Subject Matter Competency, pre-program field experience, a background check, and other items listed in Appendix A. In addition, each candidate is required to attend an orientation (which goes over program requirements) and also is interviewed by program faculty. In the interview, the faculty member reads the letters of recommendation and a personal narrative written by the candidate. Then, the faculty member asks questions to assess the candidate’s qualifications and possession of dispositions that we believe successful teacher candidates embody. The candidate can then submit the completed application to the Admissions Analyst.
Process Used to Determine Who Gets Admitted:
Each application that is submitted is reviewed by the Credential Admissions Analyst to ensure that all required items have been submitted and to see whether or not the applicant met all of the requirements. If so, the Credential Admissions Analyst admits those eligible applicants.
After all eligible applicants have been admitted, the applicants who submitted a complete application packet but who do not meet all of the admission requirements are considered next. Their application packets are reviewed on a case by case basis with the Program Coordinator and the applicant may be admitted, if there are seats remaining in the cohort. Next, applicants who submit incomplete application packets (one or more required items are missing) during the admission window are contacted by the Credential Admissions Analyst and provided with an opportunity to submit the missing items before the application window closes. If the applicant then submits all missing items before the deadline, their application packet is also reviewed on a case by case basis with the Program Coordinator, and these applicants may be admitted, if there are seats remaining in the cohort. Once the seats are filled, those admitted applicants are then sent registration information. On the average, 95% of admitted Education Specialist applicants enroll in their courses for the admitted semester start.
Candidate Monitoring and Support:
Prior to admission, each candidate is required to sign and submit a Course of Study form that shows the sequence of courses for their chosen pathway. The signed Course of Study form is kept in the candidate’s record and serves as the official Candidate Progress Monitoring document. Both the candidate and the Program Coordinator monitor the coursework completed across the program on through the Course of Study form and the candidate’s transcripts.
- Education Specialist Mild Moderate - Spring and Fall Start
- Education Specialist Moderate Severe - Spring Start
- Education Specialist Moderate Severe - Fall Start
- Education Specialist Clovis Residency: Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe
- Dual Mild Moderate - Spring and Fall Start
- Dual Moderate Severe - Spring Start
- Dual Moderate Severe - Fall Start
- Fresno Unified Residency Dual Mild/Moderate
After candidates are admitted to the credential program, they have access to various advisors and support. The Program Coordinator provides ongoing support and guidance to candidates and conducts the bulk of the advising because of the complexity and nuances of the program pathways. Candidates also receive support from the Kremen Center for Advising and Student Services and the Office of Clinical Practice.
When candidates are enrolled in clinical practice coursework, they are assigned a University Coach who observes and gives feedback on a regular basis. These clinical coaches play an important role in supporting the growth and development of our candidates. The Coaches serve as critical supports and liaisons between the university and the candidates during the candidates' time in their program, in tandem with the Program Coordinator. Coaches use the debriefing session that follows each of the six formal lessons [see Coach Formal Lesson Observation Rubric] that candidates develop and implement to provide constructive feedback to the candidate. Coaches also hold two formal triad meetings with the candidate and the Mentor Teacher at the mid-term and final weeks of the semester [Mid-term and Final Evaluation Rubric] to discuss progress and set future professional goals. The Coach also works with the candidate to complete an Individual Development Plan at the end of their program when the candidate completes the final clinical experience. This document is sent with the candidate to provide to the employing school and district as the candidate enters into the Induction Program to eventually clear their preliminary credential.
Upon completion of the program and all requirements, the candidate completes the application for the preliminary credential as shown on our website. Following receipt of the candidate’s application, the University Credential Analyst checks the candidate’s transcripts against the signed Course of Study form in the candidate’s record to determine and document on page 5 of the application that all courses have been completed with a ‘C” grade or better; there is a minimum 3.0 grade point average overall; the US Constitution requirement is met; that the Basic Skills, Subject Matter Competency and Reading Instruction Competency Assessment has been met; there is a valid Certificate of Clearance and CPR certificate for infants, children and adults, and that the candidate received passing scores on the Fresno Assessment of Student Teachers [FAST], the teacher performance assessment developed by Fresno State faculty. Only after all requirements are met is the candidate recommended to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for the Preliminary Education Specialist Credential.
Education Specialist candidates are evaluated informally and formally throughout the program. Candidates receive feedback on their knowledge and performance in each course and clinical practice experience. Each course measures candidates’ performance on program-designed signature assignments which are evaluated by rubrics which list specific criteria for grading or scoring candidates’ performance. Periodic review of the rubric data provides information for continuous program improvement. In clinical practice, student teachers receive ongoing formative feedback and coaching on their lesson plans and instruction from their University Coach and Veteran Practitioner. The Coach also provides written feedback from their observations of the candidate’s six formal lessons. At the mid-term and final points of the semester, triad meetings are conducted with the Mentor Teacher, University Coach and Teacher Candidate to provide overall performance and growth feedback and for the candidate to set professional goals.
Teacher candidates’ performance also is assessed formally through the Site Visitation Teaching Sample Project, one of two assessments in the Fresno Assessment of Student Teachers (FAST), a state-approved Teacher Performance Assessment system designed for use at Fresno State. The Site Visitation Project Teaching Sample Project measures candidates’ pedagogical competence to effectively plan lessons, implement lessons, and reflect upon their own instruction. The Site Visitation Teaching Sample Project addresses these TPEs (Teaching Performance Expectations):
- TPE 1 - Engaging and Supporting All Students in Learning (1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 1.8)
- TPE 2 - Creating and Maintaining Effective Environments for Student Learning (2.2, 2.6)
- TPE 3 - Understanding and Organizing Subject Matter for Student Learning (3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.5)
- TPE 4 - Planning Instruction and Designing Learning Experiences for All Students (4.1, 4.2, 4.7)
- TPE 6 - Developing as a Professional Educator (6.1).
Candidates who are at-risk of failing a course or field experience are monitored, counseled and offered targeted assistance by their instructors, program coordinator, and/or university coach throughout the semester. At the end of each grading period, a report is generated of candidates who have GPAs below 3.0 and/or who earned a ‘D’, ‘F’, ‘No Credit’, ‘W’, ‘WU’ or ‘Incomplete’ grades in a course. After reviewing the information, the Program Coordinator ensures that letters of concern which contain an offer for a 1-1 advising and support meeting are sent to the candidates on the list. The Program Coordinator then contacts candidates who are in danger of academic probation or program dismissal and offers a 1-1 appointment. Candidates who do not successfully pass one or more courses are offered the opportunity to repeat the course(s) for a better grade. If the repeated coursework and/or clinical practice experience is not successfully passed the second time with a ‘C’ or ‘Credit’ grade or better, the candidate could be counseled out of the program or dismissed from the program through a formal process.
Candidate Tracking: Application to Completion
Cohort that entered Spring 2019
|Two or more races||3||3||3||3|
Cohort that entered Fall 2019
|Two or more races||3||3||3||3|
Cohort that entered Spring 2020
|American Indian||0||0||0||Program still in progress|
|Two or more races||0||0||0|
Cohort that entered Fall 2020
|American Indian||0||0||0||Program still in progress|
|Two or more races||4||4||4|
**Some candidates’ programs may still be in progress if they ended up taking an alternative pathway (i.e. internship)