Standard 4. The unit designs, implements, and evaluates curriculum and provides experiences for candidates to acquire and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary to help all students learn. Assessments indicate that candidates can demonstrate and apply proficiencies related to diversity. Experiences provided for candidates include working with diverse populations, including higher education and P–12 school faculty, candidates, and students in P–12 schools.
4.1 How does the unit prepare candidates to work effectively with all students, including individuals of different ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender, exceptionalities, language, religion, sexual orientation, and/or geographical area?
As articulated in our Conceptual Framework, the goals of JMU Professional Education Unit are to prepare educated and enlightened individuals who contribute to the common good through teaching, educational leadership, civic responsibility, and local, national and international service. Our increasingly diverse, technological, and global society demands continual examination, adjustment, and renewal of practices, programs, and outcomes for student achievement, societal development, and democracy. Through well defined, measurable, and meaningful professional dispositions, practices, and performances, candidates demonstrate proficiencies necessary for commitment to the critical intersection of content, creativity, and community in learning environments that cultivate change. Specific proficiencies related to diversity are identified and assessed in our candidates throughout their programs.
Valuing global competence and better understanding of diversity is emphasized throughout the curriculum, not only in our teacher education unit, but also across the university community. The foundations of ensuring that our candidates reflect the ideals of our Conceptual Framework are established in the General Education curriculum,The Human Community, required of all JMU students. This core academic program of the university provides a foundation for understanding diversity.
In compliance with our program approval process through the Virginia Department of Education, all licensing programs were required to document how candidates are prepared to work with diverse students. Each program requires specific coursework in diversity and/or has woven diversity into the curriculum and performance standards for each program. Working with diverse populations is addressed across all programs. Coursework has emphasized the importance of inclusionary teaching practices and differentiated instruction to address each student’s special needs.
Professional education coursework has been designed to infuse diversity and multiculturalism more extensively through the participation of guest speakers who represent diverse groups, community-learning service projects, and a variety of field experiences and clinical practice opportunities. Coursework has emphasized the importance of inclusionary teaching practices and differentiated instruction to address each student’s special needs. Candidates learn about and have experiences with exceptionalities, gender differences, and multiple intelligences, as well as the impact of socioeconomic status on learning.
Candidates for initial teacher licensure are evaluated by university faculty, supervisors, and cooperating teachers on their ability to design and implement modifications to standards-based instruction for individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, abilities, values, and perspectives. Key assessments developed by the individual programs have been developed to measure the candidates’ competencies in field-based settings.
Candidates in advanced programs and for other school professionals must demonstrate their ability to use their knowledge, skills, and dispositions to create supportive learning environments for all P-12 students. Required coursework varies, yet diversity is embedded throughout the advanced programs.
A common point of evaluation for all candidates in initial programs on proficiencies related to diversity is evident in the student teaching evaluation (ST-9). It is used across the unit as a common measure of candidate proficiencies in demonstrating an understanding and appreciation for how to address diversity in clinical settings. It includes specific items related to candidate diversity proficiencies.
Programs for educating teachers and other school professionals are designed to provide extensive field-based opportunities for our candidates. Throughout the professional programs, candidates are placed in settings within and outside of our community that reflect a wide range of diverse populations.
JMU’s immediate area has been considered rural, although recent population trends have resulted in significant changes. The unit tracks diversity of the schools and school divisions where candidates are placed. As candidates progress through their programs, field placements are monitored and every attempt is made to ensure that all candidates have experiences in a variety of placements. In addition, opportunities exist for candidates to have field-based experiences at international locations. Candidates are offered the opportunity to experience teaching in international schools through a wide range of international short-term programs. Over the past four years, faculty has accompanied over 50 candidates to Korea, Australia, Kenya, Italy, and Mexico. In addition, through the JMU Office of International programs, semester-long programs are available for our candidates. Student teaching opportunities are available through a formal agreement established in 2009 with the Educators Abroad.
It is important to note that the unit faculty experiences in diverse educational settings enhance the experiences of our candidates. Faculty across the unit have been engaged in traveling internationally with candidates to support international practicum experiences. Faculty have provided professional development to teachers and professors in countries such as Cyprus, Iraq, Italy, and Australia. Faculty have traveled and taught in programs in Guam, Florence, Italy, London, and Belgium. Through the Professor-in-Residence program, we have faculty assigned to schools in Richmond, Harrisonburg, and Roanoke, working with diverse faculty and students, helping them realize that post-secondary education is a possibility for them. In addition, faculty members' school-based teaching experiences help them bring the world of inner city, international, rural, tribal schools, and private school settings into their university-based teaching.
James Madison University is dedicated to providing opportunities for our candidates to have experiences with a broad range of experience, cultures and backgrounds. As President Rose has stated, “Diversity is not just a buzz word at JMU, it is a way of life. At JMU, we embrace the uniqueness in the individual and provide the resources and support to celebrate the distinctiveness of all people.” To that end, resources, programs, support and advocacy are provided to faculty, staff and students to enhance the diversity of our campus. JMU has over 327 faculty members, of whom 84% identify themselves as white. The Professional Education unit reflects a similar ethnicity distribution. James Madison University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Concerted efforts are undertaken to recruit and retain diverse faculty. When advertising for new positions, the net is cast widely to recruit from under-represented groups. James Madison University has a high quality program for orientation of new faculty prior to the start of each new academic year. A modest increase in the diversity of our faculty at the university and unit level can be observed over the past five years.
Ongoing efforts are made at the university and the unit level to recruit and retain diverse candidates. James Madison University’s Office of Admissions conducts a series of “open houses” and special events aimed at supporting the admission of students from under represented populations. Specifically, Take a Look Day is an event in which special orientation sessions are offered to students who may be interested in attending JMU. Student Ambassadors from the teacher education unit play a major role in conducting sessions and sharing their JMU experiences with prospective students. The results of this focused recruitment may be measured in part by the increase in the diversity of our student body, both at the university and unit level.
4.2.b Continuous Improvement
A focus on promoting the cultural competence of our faculty and candidates is evident in our work since the last NCATE accreditation visit. To make public our commitment, Dean Wishon issued a proclamation: Affirmation of a Cause, a public statement of our unit's commitment to cultural and global competency. In 2005-2006, the unit redefined our definition of diversity in our conceptual framework to be more inclusive. The educational professional understands that diversity means individual and group differences that are characteristic of all human beings and which included, but are not limited to, culture, language, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, ability, religion, age/developmental stage, and learning styles.
In 2006-07, the unit initiated a series of VOICES panels for faculty to build their cultural and global competency and skill in integrating cultural and global competency into the curriculum. By raising competency of faculty and candidates we hope to build a community in which people from diverse backgrounds (cultures) will feel welcome, valued, and represented. Over the past five years, the "Voices" symposia series has expanded; events have included, but are not limited to, sponsored campus-wide presentations by representatives of Richmond City Schools, international teaching fellows sponsored through a USDE grant, and stories of candidates and faculty serving in the military.
As a unit, we have participated in university-wide efforts to recruit and retain diverse candidates and faculty. Data suggest that we have been modestly successful in our efforts. Recognizing that we need to be more proactive in our efforts to recruit diverse faculty, we have been engaged in conversations to develop a closer relationship with Morgan State University, a HBC in Baltimore, Maryland. Facilitated through the efforts of Dr. David Owusu-Ansah, JMU Office of Diversity, faculty and administrators from the unit have made to visits to the Morgan State campus. At those meetings, conversations have focused on opportunities that exist for collaboration between the two campuses. During the most recent visits, plans were made for formalizing the development of faculty research projects and candidate exchanges. In addition, plans are being developed for the College of Education to host a doctoral candidate from Morgan State on our campus for one academic year to provide teaching opportunities and dissertation support.
As reported in our Part C reports, several unit faculty have been engaged in activities to recruit diverse candidates that extend beyond the university efforts. For example, three faculty are engaged in social networking, reading, and college preparation activities with teachers and students in high schools in Roanoke, Harrisonburg and Richmond. Leadership academies designed to provide under-represented high school students with enrichment experiences focusing on career and pre-college readiness experiences, including self-discovery opportunities, are offered by the Dupont-funded Middle School Summer Leadership Academy and facilitated by unit faculty. And in another example, Dr. Dave Herr brought a group of 9th graders from William Fleming High School in Roanoke where he is the Professor-in-Residence (PIR) to campus with the hope of attracting first-generation college students. Dr. Herr’s role as PIR at William Fleming High School in Roanoke has resulted in the chartering of two student service organizations this year – a Friends of Rachel chapter and more recently, a new organization called Students of Service.
Assessments show that, in general, our candidates’ performance on diversity proficiencies meets or exceeds expectations, especially at the point of student teaching. However, reviewing these data, the PECC decided that we needed to more systematically track the development of the diversity competencies of our candidates. During the 2010-11 academic year, representatives from the unit identified candidate proficiencies that will be measured at predetermined points in their program. This new documentation of the proficiencies in diversity, which will be piloted during the 2011-12 academic year, will complement the unit data already being gathered during student teaching and internships.
Our 2004-05 data on candidate performance indicated that candidates have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn. To better highlight where candidates acquire this knowledge, each program developed a course that focuses on diversity/differentiation; a number of these also include a field component. We recognize that a critical way to develop the cultural competence of our faculty and candidates is through rich service and practicum opportunities with children and families in and outside of the school environment.
The Education Support Center staff continues to seek opportunities to provide candidates greater diversity in field experiences. For example, the director and the coordinator of field placement developed an memorandum of understanding with Richmond and Williamsburg City Schools. So far, nine candidates have been placed in 16 placements with these systems. Through externally-funded 21st Century Community Learning Center grants with the Harrisonburg City Public Schools, faculty have provided candidates experiences with at-risk, ESL, and ethnically diverse students. Educational Technology and Media Center personnel use two-way videoconferencing equipment to arrange opportunities for faculty and candidates to observe and interact in P-12 exceptional education classroom settings. ETMC personnel also assist faculty in developing interactive web sites utilizing WIKI technologies to report cross-cultural and service-learning events in real-time.
Reflections on our curriculum, an understanding of best practices, and the desire to continue to meet the changing needs of students and families has resulted in several curriculum changes in our programs. In addition to ensuring that all candidates have a foundation of culture understanding through their Cluster 3 General Education program and developing required courses that specifically address diversity and cultural competence, the concepts are woven throughout the curriculum at initial and advanced levels. Response to the needs of our constituents in the schools resulted in major revisions in three of our licensing programs – K-12 special education, early childhood special education/early childhood education, and teaching English as a second language.
In addition to specific curriculum changes, the unit is organizing itself around structures that will enhance the opportunities for faculty and candidates to engage in experiences with cultures other than their own while providing a service to the university and larger community. The Career Development Academy is developed to support the education and workforce needs of hundreds or young adolescent and adult learners. The Academy serves over 300 adult learners annually.
Over the past two years, a move has been made to create an entity that will support the work undertaken by the unit to prepare professionals who will serve individuals whose language and culture are other than ours. It was recognized that, across the unit, multiple efforts are undertaken not only to deliver pre-service and in-service programs intended to enhance cultural competence and understanding, but also to provide direct services to families and communities, research projects, and service-related activities. In 2009, under the leadership of Dr. Laura Desportes, Department Head of Exceptional Education, and Dr. Diane Foucar-Szocki, Department Head of Learning, Technology and Leadership, the English Language Learning Academy (ELLA) was conceived. It is envisioned as a centralized location to provide language learning opportunities and support through licensure, minor, clinical, and direct service programs. ELLA will serve as a vehicle to provide opportunities for our candidates to learn from and interact with children, families, and adults from other cultures, informing and enhancing their teacher preparation. Governance by an advisory board with representation from across the unit and the community will ensure the diverse needs of the constituents are met.