Standard 1: Content and Pedagogical Knowledge
The West Texas A&M University Educator Preparation Program (EPP) is designed to meet the demands of quality teaching and learning in the 21st century and beyond. The intent of the EPP is to produce confident, skilled, and reflective professionals. Historically, content and pedagogical knowledge preparation and technology integration have been hallmarks of a WTAMU degree in teacher education. Our EPP ensures through coursework and field experiences that candidates develop a deep understanding of the critical concepts and principles of their disciplines and, by completion, are able to use discipline-specific practices flexibly to advance the learning of all students regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or cognitive development toward attainment of college- and career-readiness standards. As a unit, we have continued to build upon this foundational design and have enriched other aspects of our preparation that are standards, research-, and evidence-based [1.1.1] as aligned with our Shared Vision or Conceptual Framework.
Our EPP defines and ensures that candidates develop deep understanding of content by meeting standards as required by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), the Texas Core Curriculum (TCC), the Council of Accreditation for Educator Preparation (CAEP), International Standards of Technology Education (ISTE), University General Learning Outcomes (GLOs), InTASC Standards, and the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) that includes Texas Educator Standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), and the Texas College- and Career-Readiness Standards (TCCRS). [1.1.1; and 1.1.3]. In defining this understanding, the EPP’s shared vision or conceptual framework for educator preparation has established the learning outcomes for all candidates across all programs. Additionally, the EPP strives to not only develop professional dispositions within candidates, but also goes beyond by developing candidate ethical behavior [1.1.2]. A collection of evidence demonstrates that the Program Educational Outcomes (PEOs) and Ethical and Professional Dispositions of the EPP have met state legal requirements, are aligned with current research, meet rigorous national, professional, state, and local standards, and are assessed consistently throughout candidate progression of the EPP [1.1.2; 1.1.3; and 1.1.4].
Being a highly selective institution, requirements for admission to the Teacher Education Program include: 54 semester hours completed; an official degree plan; a 2.75 GPA; TSI (Texas Success Initiative) complete; and must pass the Professional Pedagogy and Responsibilities (PPR) exam and TExES content exams prior to clinical teaching [1.1.3; 1.1. 5; 1.1.6; 1.1.8; and 1.1.9]. Candidates are required to make a “C” or higher in all coursework and maintain a 2.75 GPA (higher than the state’s requirement of 2.50 GPA to continue in the program.
The EPP provides preparation courses for candidates in Early Childhood-Grade 6 (EC-6), Grades 4-8, 7-12, 8-12, Reading, Special Education EC-12, Alternate Certification, and Professional Development [1.1.10]. Secondary candidates receive content instruction in their specific disciplines in colleges throughout the University. During development, the unit builds pedagogical knowledge and skill in all candidates through Methods courses. Candidates demonstrate confidence, knowledge, and skill with the application of both content and pedagogical knowledge in their clinical teaching [1.2.1; 1.3.1; 1.4.1; 1.5.1]. Upon the successful completion of their clinical teaching, candidates apply for certification prior to graduation.
To complete a degree, initial candidates must move through a set of Decision Points designed to determine whether each candidate is progressing satisfactorily [1.1.16]. Each Decision Point has multiple criteria, key assessments, and includes an assessment of candidate dispositions [1.1.16]. Candidates are allowed to progress to the next phase of the program when they have demonstrated proficiency on all assessments. Assessment rubrics and criteria for success are the same for all candidates at each Decision Point to ensure fairness, accuracy, consistency, and elimination of bias [1.1.16]. The Office of the Director of Clinical Preparation admits candidates to the Teacher Education Program for initial certification and monitors their GPA, test requirements, and field placements to ensure candidates are meeting the requirements of the program. Key assessments are aligned with the Shared Vision/Conceptual Framework and national/state standards and are completed in the junior and senior years.
Candidates demonstrate an understanding of the InTASC standards beginning at admission, during development, and at completion progression levels of the program in the categories of the learner and learning; content knowledge; instructional practice; and professional responsibility [1.1.3]. As evidence of candidate content, pedagogical, and dispositional knowledge throughout the progression of the program, an interpretation of trend data indicates at admission that from 2012 to 2015, the overall GPA mean for all certification fields exceeded the 3.0 GPA requirement of the unit, the state’s, and CAEP requirements [1.1.1; 1.1.5; and 1.1.6]. During development, candidates have an overall mean of pass rates for TExES content exams of 90% for 2012 to 2015, surpassing the state’s performance requirement of 80%, with a significant increase from 85.09% in 2012 to 100% in 2015 pass rate of all test takers and all tests [1.1.7]. In 2015, a PPR Exam pass rate of 100% with 185 out of 185 Traditional test takers and 99.3% of 152 out of 153 ACP test takers [1.1.7].
Two courses (EDPD 3340 and EPSY 3341) serve as gateways to the EPP program with possibly only one course for transfer students (EPSY 3341) who take EDPD 3340 at other universities prior to being admitted to WTAMU. Candidates in all programs take EPSY 3341. Upon the successful completion of passing the course with a minimum of C and 80% on the practice PPR Exam as a final exam, candidates are required to pass the TExES PPR certification exam and their TExES content exam during their Methods courses before being approved for clinical teaching [1.1.7]. Mentoring, tutoring, intervention, remediation, and a variety of online resources are provided to candidates who need additional support in passing these exams [3.4.1].
Additionally, during development, representative course syllabi, Knowledge Effectiveness Indicator (KEI) assignments, candidate reflections for 40 hours of required observations in classrooms during Methods courses, lesson plan evaluations, and course grade distributions demonstrate candidates’ understanding of the concepts and principles of their specific disciplines [1.1.8; 1.1.9; 1.1.10; and 1.1.13]. Candidates are regularly and consistently assessed in PEOs and Ethical and Professional Dispositions at admission as a benchmark, during development for mid-point evaluation, and upon completion of clinical teaching at the end of the program [1.1.11; 1.1.12; 1.1.13; and 1.1.14]. The progression of the candidates’ deep understanding of InTASC Standards is exhibited by the evidence of course syllabi, KEI assignments, maintenance of GPAs, and course grade distributions of C or higher [1.1.3; 1.1.5; 1.1.6; 1.1.7; and 1.1.14].
By completion, the grade distribution summary of clinical teachers trend data from 2012 to 2015 has a mean of 99% pass rate as evidence that completers of the EPP Program have successfully passed their Clinical Teaching Experience and are qualified to teach [1.1.10]. This trend data of an increase for all test takers and 100% pass rate in 2015 on state content exams and PPR exams demonstrate the EPP’s raised expectations that candidates understand and apply the concepts and principles of their disciplines.
In the data collection and analyses, the unit notes with pride that our graduates rank at the top of all Texas A&M University System Educator Preparation Programs on virtually all accountability measures [1.1.15]. The performance of our candidates is a direct result of the EPP’s expertise, teaching effectiveness, and dedication to excellence. Due to ongoing efforts for continuous improvement in preparing educators who are confident, skilled, and reflective professionals, our EPP has become stronger and graduates are better prepared to meet the challenges of the increasingly complex classrooms for the 21st century and beyond.
Candidates demonstrate the application of content-specific practices flexibly through the use of research and evidence in their development of unit and lesson plans in their courses and through their reflection writing, field experiences, observations, and course projects [1.1; 1.2]. Candidates develop an understanding of the teaching profession, how to measure their P-12 students’ progress, and their own professional practice [1.2]. A consistency of language, program learning outcomes, and content, pedagogical, dispositional, and digital knowledge provided to all candidates in all programs as outlined on a new syllabi template informs our candidates, our instructional practice, and our stakeholders. A wide array of research-based assignments and experiences throughout their preparation gives candidates opportunities to practice what they have learned in order to advance the learning of their P-12 students. These opportunities continually create unique avenues for candidate preparation and development as educators.
The standards-based application of content and pedagogical knowledge as reflected in outcome assessments allows candidates to demonstrate skills and commitment that give all P-12 students access to rigorous college- and career-ready standards where candidates can model and apply technology standards to design, implement, and assess learning experiences to engage students, improve learning, and enrich professional practice [1.3; 1.4.; and 1.5].
Evidence for CAEP Standard 1 are located in the Table of Evidence.