Standard 2: Clinical Partnerships and Practice
Within our EPP, effective partnerships are central to field experiences and clinical practice for the preparation of all candidates. These partnerships recognize the mutuality of benefit and the shared accountability of both partners for the success of our candidates. Aligned with our Shared Vision or Conceptual Framework, clinical and field experiences are designed to promote candidate knowledge, skills, and ethical and professional dispositions to ensure that candidates have a positive impact on student learning. The Office of Teacher Preparation and Advising within our unit manages and monitors all field placements of candidates [2.2.2]. Teacher production trends from 2004 to 2015 show that West Texas A&M University placed over 4,316 teacher candidates in Texas Public Schools [2.2.3c].
Our EPP has developed and maintains strategic partnerships with Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to support effective teacher preparation. By engaging with partners that include Region 16 Education Service Center (ESC), annual LEA Superintendent Meetings with our Dean, and bi-annual meetings of all stakeholders in the Teacher Educator Unit (TEU) Meetings and the EPP Advisory Council Meetings, the EPP ensures strategic, effective, and quality partnerships [2.1.1; 2.1.2; and 2.1.3]. These collaborative and interactive meetings are held to discuss strengths, areas for improvement, policy and/or curricular changes, partnership opportunities, and employment needs.
In collaboration with our partners, the EPP delineates multiple expectations for all stakeholders on the executed Participation Agreements [2.1.1a]. These co-constructed agreements establish, maintain, and refine criteria for selection, professional development, performance evaluation, continuous improvement, and retention of clinical faculty in all field experiences and clinical placement settings [2.2.3]. Additionally, the EPP and our partners have mutually co-established agreeable expectations for candidate entry, preparation, and exit; ensure that theory and practice are linked; maintain coherence across clinical and academic components of preparation; and share accountability for candidate outcomes [2.1.2; and 2.2.2].
In the state of Texas, all clinical faculty with whom our candidates interact are required to have current certification(s) in the content areas they teach [TAC §129]. Once the EPP and the LEA have co-selected and co-confirmed the certified P-12 clinical faculty who will facilitate field experiences and/or clinical practice for our candidates, the partners prepare, evaluate, support, and retain high-quality clinical faculty who demonstrate quality teaching that has a positive impact on P-12 student learning and development. Clinical faculty receives preparatory training in their support of our candidates throughout the field experiences and clinical practice. Facilitated at the unit level, this technology-based training includes a review of policies and procedures, an overview of instructional coaching of best practices, support for the Professional Development Appraisal System (PDAS), and tools for evaluation [2.2.4]. Beyond this training, support for P-12 clinical faculty is provided by the EPP’s university field supervisors whose primary role is to assist the P-12 clinical faculty in mentoring the teacher candidates in their clinical practice while supporting and advocating for those same candidates [2.2.4c; and 2.2.4d].
All eligible and approved candidates are collaboratively placed in our partnering schools (with which our EPP has an LEA Partnership Agreement) during preparation with a requirement of forty- (40) hours of field experience during candidate development and 480-hours or twelve weeks of clinical practice at completion [2.2.1]. These clinical placements include a wide variety of urban, suburban, and rural schools with P-12 student populations that include diverse socio-economic and ethno-racial indicators, students who are receiving special education and/or gifted and talented services, who have limited English proficiency, and who receive English as a Second Language services [2.2.2].
Working with our partners, the EPP provides clinical practice of sufficient depth, breadth, diversity, coherence, and duration to ensure that candidates demonstrate developing effectiveness and positive impact on all P-12 student learning and development. Tools used to ensure that theory and practice are linked and coherence across clinical and academic components of candidates is maintained by the EPP include the Methods Field Observation form, Observation Log Sheet, and Professional Development Appraisal System (PDAS) form [2.2.3a; 2.2.3b; and 1.1.11]. Through the use of these assessment tools, shared accountability for candidate outcomes for both the EPP and LEAs is not only achieved, but also continually monitored to sustain this collaborative effort.
The EPP and our partners have designed field experiences to enable our candidates to acquire the knowledge, skills, and ethical and professional dispositions to teach a diverse population of students in today’s schools [2.2.1]. Ever-increasing diversity among Texas public school populations; persistent gaps in standardized test scores, especially with low socio-economic and limited English proficiency students; a staggering increase of immigrant and refugee populations in our area in the midst of declining enrollment of “traditional” students; evidence of the technology divide between affluent and impoverished communities; and other societal issues impacting our schools suggest to the EPP that intensive effort is imperative to prepare teacher educators to succeed in diverse intellectual, cultural, linguistic, academic, and social contexts. As a result, our EPP requires field experiences and clinical practice to prompt authentic candidate interactions with schools of various types, sizes, structures, demographic composition, and academic foci; in urban, suburban, and rural contexts; from both exemplary and academically struggling schools with traditional and non-traditional calendars; and in schools with ethnically and culturally diverse student and faculty populations [2.2.2].
During field experiences, candidates apply the use of technology for both instructional and non-instructional purposes to promote student learning [3.4]. The early field experiences and clinical practice are designed to connect theory introduced in core courses with practical classroom-based experiences with P-12 students throughout the EPP [2.2.1]. These experiences are intentionally recursive so that each prior experience enhances and builds upon previous work. Clinical practice and field-based experiences are sufficiently extensive and intensive so that candidates can demonstrate competence in their professional roles; thus, the design of these experiences is based upon mutual benefit and shared accountability with our partners [2.1.1]. The EPP along with our partner clinical faculty assess candidates at admission, during development, and at completion to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and dispositional behaviors [2.3.1]. This partnership allows our candidates to progress through the developmental phase of their preparation (i.e., course(s) field experiences, Methods courses, and clinical practice) and to grow in confidence, skill, and reflection. With these experiences, candidates have opportunity to evaluate clinical faculty through reflection writings, and during the completion phase (i.e., Clinical Teaching), candidates also evaluate clinical faculty, university field supervisors, and their own performance [2.2.5]. To further enhance our continuous improvement, the EPP has designed a Completer Follow-Up Survey for our in-service graduates to provide additional data for program improvements [2.2.6].
Clinical practice, infused with technology-enhanced learning opportunities, is structured to have multiple performance-based assessments at key points within the program. To demonstrate the development of the knowledge, skills, and ethical and professional dispositions of our candidates [1.1.16], these assessments show that candidates have a direct impact on the learning and development of all P-12 students in school settings. EPP policy requires candidates from traditional and alternative certification routes to pass both their TExES Content Exam and the Professional Pedagogy and Responsibilities (PPR) Exam prior to clinical teaching. Our EPP ensures that all candidates have the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary to have a positive impact on all P-12 students and are qualified to teach in twenty-first century classrooms [2.2.1; 2.3.1; 1.1.2; 1.1.4; and 1.1.11]. Therefore, the West Texas A&M University EPP is confident that effective, collaborative partnerships and high-quality clinical practice are central to preparing confident, skilled, and reflective professionals [2.3.1].
Evidence for CAEP Standard 2 are located in the Table of Evidence.