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Standard 1.1: Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Professional Dispositions

1.1a Candidate Knowledge

Fresno State's professional education programs regularly use data and proven practices in an ongoing effort to improve and innovate, ensuring the most effective and cutting-edge preparation possible for teachers, administrators, counselors, and other school professionals so they can positively impact learning for all P-12 students in our richly diverse state. All initial and advanced credential programs in Fresno State’s professional education unit have successfully met standards set by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC-Biennial Reports of data in ‘08, ‘10, and ‘12 for each credential program), the 5/13 report to CCTC on Preconditions for Professional Preparation Programs, the Common Standards Report, and links to all accreditation pages.

The Biennial Reports provide overviews of each credential program, summaries of candidate assessments/performance, and use of data to inform program modifications. All who complete a program have demonstrated subject matter content knowledge and skills through successful performance on state exams (CBEST, CSET) or subject matter preparation programs, and course assignments requiring reflection, inquiry, research, and field-based application of knowledge; in advanced programs this is at an in-depth level. A composite report is sent to CCTC "Section B: Institutional Summary and Plan for Action." In 2012 CCTC piloted a new format and selected Fresno State's submission as a statewide exemplar.

To be recommended for a basic teaching credential, candidates must perform successfully on assessments of pedagogical content knowledge, technology-enhanced instruction, and lesson design informed by analysis of P-12 student performance data (FAST). Fieldwork and coursework experiences are designed with the goal of exhibiting the professional dispositions expected of professional educators and to align with our unit’s Conceptual Framework. Annual reports from the Director of Teacher Education to the Provost complement the programs and their data assessments/implications. The programs and the candidates use data to make/explain their decisions and choices instructionally (strategies) to promote student learning.

A number of programs are also accredited or recognized by national councils/agencies (CACREP, CORE, and NAEYC). In 2012, the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership (DPELFS) had a 5-year site visit by WASC and received numerous commendations. These results are evidence of the strong and successful commitment to program assessment and continual improvement within the professional education unit at Fresno State as articulated in the unit-wide Kremen Learning Assessment System to Sustain Improvement (KLASSI),(Standard 2). All programs are expected to utilize this system and are supported by an Assessment Coordinator, a position established to support all campus programs in program evaluation and the use of data to "close the loop." Campus degree programs must utilize a Student Outcomes Assessment Plan (SOAP) as a major part of the program review process and implications are discussed regularly by program faculty. Three programs in the professional education unit are not accredited by CCTC but have a SOAP; the MA degree in Education, Curriculum and Instruction option, the MA in Teaching, and the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at Fresno State.

The unit's 3 basic credential programs–Multiple Subject (MS), Single Subject (SS), and Education Specialist (SPED)–must submit annual Improvement and Accountability Plans (IAPs) to the California State University (CSU) Chancellor's Office, describing progress toward improving performance goals for any areas identified as needing attention based on results of the Systemwide Evaluation of Professional Teacher Preparation Programs (SEPTPP), an assessment conducted by the CSU Center for Teacher Quality (CTQ). CTQ surveys former credential candidates and their employers 1 year following completion of the program on their perception of their preparation to understand and teach core subjects, to teach a diverse student population in developmentally appropriate ways, and to plan effective instruction (pedagogical preparation). These programs and the administration utilize this data to make instructional and programmatic decisions. A study utilizing 7 years of Fresno State SEPTPP data yielded striking differences among candidates in campus-based, partnership school, and internship programs. The teaching preparation perceptions of graduates of school-based partnership programs were significantly higher than those in the other models, which supported a programmatic shift to a goal of almost all credential candidates placed in cohorts within partner schools and enrolled in coursework tied to clinical fieldwork. A 2010 study A 2010 study comparing the SEPTPP scores of graduates found that CalStateTEACH (CST) scores were consistently higher than those of campus-based programs, offering support for the CST model that integrates coursework and fieldwork.

The Fresno Assessment of Student Teachers (FAST) is one of three approved teacher performance assessments in California to assess the performance of MS and SS teaching candidates in relation to the 13 Teacher Performance Expectations (TPEs) (10/2012, CCTC). Four complex tasks incorporating these TPEs must be successfully completed by preservice teachers as a condition for receiving a credential (Torgerson, et al.). Courses in the 3-semester credential program are sequenced to build on the students' knowledge base and all have a field experience component (12 unique field placement courses exist across the basic credential programs). Based on the 2010-2011 Title II report (p. 406), Fresno State requires more supervised clinical experience hours (880) than any of the other 23 CSU campuses, providing candidates with a variety of clinical experiences to observe instruction and to practice their craft prior to receiving their credential. Building on the importance of a clinical model, the 2013 Kremen School Annual Report (pp.15-16) discusses the success of workshops for a new co-teaching initiative and shares a number of recommendations for improvement in the SS program. A review of scoring trends for FAST - Fall 2010-Fall 2011 found great inter-rater consistency in determining whether a candidate passed or failed a FAST project, and reported that scores in the 2-3 range (passing scores on a 4-point scale) constituted 80-95% of all scores, except for the Holistic Lesson Plan Project for MS and the Site Visitation Project for SS, where there were proportionately more scores of 4 than in the other projects. The success of the MS and SS programs in providing a carefully sequenced series of field-based coursework is evident by the candidates’ stronger performance on FAST projects in their final phase of the program. Overall, failure rates on any of the FAST projects is quite low. During the 3-semester FA10-FA11 period, the project failure rate for MS candidates did not exceed 2.8% and for SS candidates did not exceed 6.6% (Holistic Proficiency Project).

The major evaluations used to assess candidate effectiveness (SEPTPP, FAST) are well-developed, reliable indirect indicators of candidate/graduate impact on P-12 student performance. CTQ has conducted comparisons of learning gains among students of CSU-prepared and non-CSU-prepared 1st and 2nd year teachers in urban schools. This "value-added assessment" study, which includes Fresno State graduates, has yielded results showing significantly higher achievement in math among middle and high school students of CSU-prepared teachers compared to those of non-CSU-prepared teachers (CTQ PPT 11/9/11). The effect of CSU preparation was more influential than class size, parent education level, family income level, and student English proficiency.

The unit's conceptual framework includes professional dispositions, based on equity/fairness and the belief that all students can learn, that are fostered in all candidates. Dispositions are assessed on the CO Exit Survey required of all basic credential candidates, on the Teacher Disposition Index (TDI, pp. 30-31), administered at the beginning and again at the end of each fall and spring semester, and through other measures for advanced credential candidates. The TDI includes 45 items designed to measure the six dispositions: reflection, critical thinking, professional ethics, diversity, collaboration, and life-long learning. An analysis of the data collected from Fall 2008 to Fall 2011 indicated that "when the items are aggregated into the dispositions to which they relate, scores improve from pre-test [at the beginning of a semester] to posttest [at the end of the semester] in every instance, every semester," with the researcher concluding, "clearly, students’ commitment to their professional and ethical responsibilities, already high as the semester begins, becomes yet deeper as a result of the semester’s experiences.

In March 2013, AACTE presented its Best Practice Award for Professional Ethics and Moral Dispositions in Teacher Education to the Kremen School. This national award recognizes excellence in the illustrative and purposeful attention to professional ethics and moral dispositions in the preparation and work of prospective P-12 teachers and other school professionals. (Award letter). Evidence of the focus on character is the presence of the curriculum, the Bonner Center for Character Education, the Conference on Character and Civic Education, and Mediator Mentors. The annual conference includes award presentations to exemplary schools and teachers, nationally-known keynote speakers, break-out sessions, and is the longest-running conference of its kind in the nation. The Bonner director was honored with the 2012 Sanford N. McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education.

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