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MSU Teacher Education Unit (TEU)

Initial Programs

Development of the Assessment System
The assessment system for the Teacher Education Unit (TEU) was developed and has been continuously revised with input from the TEU Stakeholders Advisory Council. The TEU Stakeholders group includes the Dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences, the Chair and Program Coordinators from Teacher Education and Human Performance, teacher education and arts and sciences faculty, P-12 teachers and administrators, P-12 school board members, and TEU candidates. Information from the TEU Stakeholders’ Retreats, regular operations of the Unit, and updates from NCATE on expectations are regularly reviewed at the meetings of the TEU Stakeholders and the Program and Policy Committee (P&P), the primary working committee that provides recommendations to the Teacher Education Administrative Council (TEAC). Early discussions of the assessment system centered around development of the Conceptual Framework and later on the development and incorporation of the INTASC Standards and TEU Dispositions (noted in the introduction to this report, and available in full text in the exhibits). Substantial updates were made in these areas between 1997 and 2002 as NCATE instantiated its performance-oriented standards, based upon institutional training information brought back by Dr. Neil Nordquist (then Chair of Education), Dr. David McCormack and Cheryl Nilsen (Department of Mathematics) who serves as an NCATE Board of Examiners member and chairs the P&P Assessment Sub-committee.

Content Knowledge
The content-matter curriculum and assessments in all Teacher Education Unit (TEU) programs have been aligned with the North Dakota Program Approval Standards since the Minot State University TEU first gained state and NCATE accreditation. The state program approval process became formalized and mandatory in 1987. The ND Standards were revised to include multiple performance assessments in 2000, paralleling the NCATE change to a performance-oriented system, and aligning with updates in the standards of national professional associations. Evaluations of content knowledge and the ability to teach content to students are made in targeted content and education core courses, methods courses, and in Mid-term and Final Student Teaching Evaluations.

The Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) in reading, writing and mathematics became required in North Dakota for initial teacher licensure by the Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB) July 1, 2003. Praxis II and Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) testing for elementary teachers and Praxis II content-area testing for secondary and K-12 (‘core’ areas only as designated in ND Administrative Code) became mandatory July 1, 2006. Prior to those dates, North Dakota was not a testing state and standardized test scores were not required or collected. Ongoing discussion by the P&P Assessment Sub-committee of how the TEU can make best use of the new ND test scores has included possible expansions of the system to allow comparisons of PPST and Praxis data to TEU rubrics and grades issued, as categorical breakdowns of that information become available, and sufficient testing data is collected to assure validity and reliability in decision-making.

Pedagogical and Pedagogical Content Knowledge
The Teacher Education Core, in which formative and summative assessments of candidate pedagogy and their ability to combine pedagogy and content are evaluated, was formally adopted for all education majors, elementary, K-12 and secondary (7-12) in 1997. At that time, the education core was strengthened, particularly in the areas of classroom management and assessment in response to stakeholder comments. Subsequent feedback from cooperating teachers and administrators has validated those improvements. The ND Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB) require the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) test for elementary teacher licensure, but not for secondary or K-12 licensure, as state law parallels language in No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Since elementary, secondary and K-12 candidates take the same education core evaluations, some general cross-validation of TEU Rubric scales to PLT scores and course grades should still be possible as more data is collected and triangulation is possible. The TEU Rubric, which measures candidate growth across the INTASC and Disposition criteria, also allows for longitudinal examination of developing skills, such as planning or accommodation.

The eight TEU Dispositions that emerged from the 2000-02 discussions were presented at the Spring 2002 TEU Stakeholders Advisory Council Retreat and subsequently adopted by the Teacher Education Administrative Council (TEAC). Dispositions were originally reported only in the event that candidates had serious dispositional issues. Dispositions were discussed and assessed in the candidate’s self-evaluations (completed at Admission to Teacher Education, in methods, student teaching, and one year following graduation), and by cooperating teachers and faculty supervisors in the Final Student Teaching Evaluation. Following the 2004 visit, faculty reconsidered that, while self-evaluations increase candidates’ understanding of the meaning of the criteria and serve as a valuable reflection exercise, self-examination does not constitute an objective external assessment. Therefore, during 2004-2005, revisions to the TEU Assessment System were made to formally assess dispositions in methods courses (by methods faculty) and in both the Mid-term and Final Student Teaching Evaluations (by cooperating teachers and faculty supervisors). Adoption of a specific checkpoint on dispositions in the methods courses allows for earlier identification of dispositional issues, and opportunity for guidance to improvement. Candidate and supervisor evaluations of the TEU Dispositions may now be tracked and compared longitudinally across the program. Disposition rankings are aligned with the TEU’s four-point rubric system, and evaluators are instructed to submit the Inappropriate Dispositions Form if any rankings fall into the lowest level. These forms are shared with the candidate’s advisor and TEHP Chair, and if more than one Inappropriate Dispositions report must be issued, they are referred to the TEAC for possible administrative action.

Influence on P-12 Student Learning
Ability to impact P-12 student learning is measured in its formative stages in the education core and methods courses; in terms of ability to do "teacher work" (i.e. planning, classroom management, learning facilitation) and to analyze student work. More summative evaluation is completed across the INTASC standards in methods courses and the Mid-term and Final Student Teaching Evaluations, including the pre-post test activity in student teaching, and through employer feedback from surveys. The system collects data on candidate exposure to diverse students, candidates and faculty, and ability to accommodate the needs of varied learners.

Primary Changes to the TEU Assessment System
During the first stages of performance assessment implementation at MSU, the TEU used a portfolio model to coordinate performance assessments. Reflection on the working of that model by the TEU faculty and stakeholders revealed that it had challenges in the areas of consistency of format, inter-rater reliability, and ability to aggregate data. The portfolio model was discontinued in 2002-2003 in favor of the current system, which collects rubric scores across the program outcomes as candidates move through their program. Aspects that were retained from the portfolio included the candidates’ written interactions examining the meaning behind the INTASC Standards and TEU Dispositions, and the candidates’ reflective self-evaluations on these criteria at four points across their development in the program. Faculty feel the self-reflections are still important as reflective exercises for candidates within the ARK (Action, Reflection, Knowledge) Conceptual Framework, and collection of this information allows comparisons between candidate perceptions of their abilities and actual faculty and cooperating teacher evaluations of these abilities. Full text of the TEU Rubrics for initial and advanced programs are available in the exhibits, along with examples of how the rubric translates into specific course objectives and student work samples. The TEU Rubrics gauge candidate performance on specific program criteria as they progress, and should not be confused with individual course grades or GPA, even through the rubrics also use a 4-point rating scale.

Since the last NCATE visit in 2004, three TEU Stakeholders Advisory Council Retreats have been held, Spring 2005, Fall 2005 and Fall 2006, to refine the assessment system and reflect on data. Dr. Neil Nordquist, Dean of the CEHS; Dr. Deb Jensen, Chair of TEHP; Dr. John Webster, Science; Dr. Lisa Borden-King, Elementary Education Program Coordinator; and Billy Boyeff, TEU Accreditation Technology Support Coordinator; attended the NCATE/AACTE: Breaking the Code session in March 2006. Dr. Deb Jensen also attended, and served as an institutional mentor for, the April 2006 institutional seminar: Accreditation, Accountability, and Quality. These meetings provided information for additional refinements to the system, and validation of refinements-to-date on key assessments and benchmark points within the system.

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