Standard 6. The unit has the leadership, authority, budget, personnel, facilities, and resources, including information technology resources, for the preparation of candidates to meet professional, state, and institutional standards.
6.1 How do the unit’s governance system and resources contribute to adequately preparing candidates to meet professional, state, and institutional standards?
The unit has the leadership and the authority to plan, deliver and operate coherent programs of study. The dean of the College of Education is designated the head of the professional education unit, represents the unit in all administrative matters, and has responsibility for all programs leading to Commonwealth of Virginia licensure or advanced educator preparation. Initial and advanced programs in professional education and allied content disciplines are administratively housed in the Colleges of Education, Arts and Letters, Visual and Performing Arts, University Studies, Science and Mathematics, and Integrated Science and Technology
Program coordinators and/or department heads direct the program-level work of the unit. The work is guided by the Professional Education Coordinating Council (PECC), its standing committees and task forces. The PECC is made up of representatives of each of the professional education programs, the College of Education dean, associate dean, and assistant dean; the directors of the Education Support Center, the Educational Technology and Media Center, and Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies; and the chairs of all unit committees. It meets monthly and serves as one of the primary governing bodies for the unit.
The unit governance structure is linked to university governance by the unit head’s representation on the Academic Council. Chaired by the provost, the Academic Council is composed of upper level administration, including all deans and vice provosts. It meets weekly to discuss institutional-wide issues, set institutional priorities, plan strategies for meeting university-wide goals, and share information related to academic affairs.
The unit head meets twice each academic year with administrators from the allied colleges to which unit programs are administratively tied. These meetings with unit head administrators provide a forum for discussing issues related to preparing educators and other school personnel across the university. In addition, for the past four years, the dean has met on a regular basis with division administrators from our partnering school divisions to share concerns related to education of all students, the preparation of future teachers, and professional development needs of in-service teachers
Advising is central to the university and a web site dedicated to providing information and support for faculty, staff and students describes the expectations of good advising and processes to ensure that each student receives accurate information in planning his/her academic program. Student support and advising is also the focus of the Office of Career and Academic Planning. All freshmen are assigned a freshmen advisor as they matriculate into the university before transitioning to their major and education program advisors. Each education program has specific advising policies and processes. Transfer students are assigned both a major and an education advisor upon entering the university. Some transfer students enter under the Regional Teacher Education Agreement (RTEA), a reciprocal agreement between the professional education unit and three local community colleges to support the transfer of community college students into initial licensure programs. Transfer students who enter under the RTEA are considered to have met all teacher education admission requirements as well as JMU admission and general education requirements.
The Education Support Center (ESC) is the key conduit for information related to admission into the Professional Education Unit for all students, including students entering under the RTEA. The unit’s admissions policies are clearly and consistently described in publications and catalogs. The university catalogs are revised on an annual basis. Admission requirements for the education programs are outlined in the JMU undergraduate and graduate catalogs and on college and program web pages. Revisions in programs and polices not mandated by federal or state bodies, must be approved by the University Curriculum Committee before publication in the catalog.
The development of the budget is a collaborative process with the deans and provost working together to ensure that cross-college and cross-division activities receive appropriate attention. Budget allocations go to the various colleges; however, many aspects of the unit functioning are funded under the CoE budget (e.g., the ESC, the ETMC, and travel for student teaching supervision). Not unlike most institutions of higher education, recent economic events times impacted JMU and as a result, the professional education programs. Prior to 2007, the university had experienced growth and budgets realized modest but steady increases. However, with the economic downturn, the university began to take measures to ensure that the academic programs would be impacted as minimally as possible. Faculty salaries have been frozen since 2007. In 2008-09, each academic unit was required to return 10-20% of its budget across two areas – travel and professional development, which translated to a $15,494 rescission for the CoE. Through planning and the use of foundation and indirect funds from grants, the college was able to continue to provide support for student scholarships, faculty travel, research and partnership activities. To address the NCATE standards, increased Title II reporting requirements, and the need to better track candidate performance, the provost has invested the necessary resources to support the procurement of Tk20, a data management system. Even given the budgetary problems, the unit has been fortunate to witness an increase in the numbers of faculty lines assigned to our licensing programs. While there is a continued need for additional faculty, the unit has experienced an increase in the numbers of faculty assigned to the unit over the past seven years.
Workload policies and practices are consistent with our unit conceptual framework and guidelines for merit, promotion and tenure. They encourage faculty engagement in teaching, scholarship, and service, and collaborations with P-12 schools. The typical semester workload for tenured, tenure-track, and RTA faculty is 12 workload unit-hours for teaching, scholarship, and service. Supervision of student teaching is figured at one credit hour per student teacher; therefore the full-time load equivalent is 12 candidates. Program coordinators, special project directors, and others have reassigned time for administration.
The unit employs high quality support staff and adjunct faculty to ensure program coherence and integrity. Many of our staff have a long tenure in working with the programs. JMU provides extensive opportunities for staff development. All full-time staff are required to have annual evaluations that include a professional development component. All adjunct part-time faculty are oriented and mentored by the program coordinator or designee and are evaluated annually using the same process as that for full-time faculty. Graduate assistants provide faculty and program support but are not used for teaching in professional education programs.
The unit and university also support the operation of JMU’s Young Children’s Program (YCP), located in Anthony Seeger Hall. The YCP is a laboratory school operated by the early childhood education program. It serves two groups of children Monday through Friday – a morning session for three-year-olds and an afternoon session for four-year-olds. The YCP is an exemplary early childhood program, accredited by the National Association of Early Childhood Programs and licensed by the Virginia Department of Social Services.
The centers that provide faculty development for technology for the larger university community include the Computing Support Center (CSC) and the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT). The CSC provides training for general productivity tools. CIT provides more advanced training for faculty. Candidates can access technology support services and resources through the JMU libraries and the CSC. Candidates may take individual courses that are offered online, and support is provided through library support services and through Blackboard. The Educational Technology and Media Center (ETMC) provides additional technology resources for candidates and faculty members in the unit. The primary goal of the ETMC is to support candidates, faculty, and staff in their efficient use of technologies to support learning. This goal is achieved through access, instruction, and promotion of educational technologies available within the center.
JMU Libraries, consisting of Carrier Library, East Campus Library, and the Music Library, support research, study, and instruction in the use of information resources at JMU. The library liaison for education, Jonathan Paulo, has a master’s degree in library and information science and has a strong background in creative writing and secondary education.
6.2.b Continuous Improvement
During the academic year of 2004-05, Dean Wishon charged a committee to propose an organizational structure that would bring greater coherency and shared sense of purpose to the various academic entities, provide greater administrative and operational focus, and support the work of the college and the unit more expediently and effectively. As an outgrowth of the Strategic Planning Process, a newly conceived organizational structure was implemented in fall 2005. The basic structure focused on transitioning from a programs-based organizational operation to a departments-based structure, resulting in the formation of five departments: Early, Elementary and Reading; Exceptional Education; Learning, Technology and Leadership; Middle, Secondary and Mathematics; and Military Science. With the exception of the Commander of Military Science, Dean Wishon appointed department heads for a three-year term.
The Professional Education Unit was impacted by this reorganization because of the change in representation to the Professional Education Coordinating Council (PECC) committee. In 2007-08, the Professional Education Coordinating Council (PECC) was expanded to include representation from the Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies major (IDLS) and the newly approved licensure area in Dance. After reorganization of committee structure, committee chairs representing standing unit committees were added to the PECC. In the last several years, a new governance structure for IDLS has been created, and significant curricular revisions were undertaken that resulted in changes in the Math/Science/Technology concentration and a new track for Special Education candidates in the Humanities/Social Sciences concentrations.
A focus of the PECC is unit –wide assessment efforts including program key assessments and the acquisition and implementation of an electronic data management. After a year of research the Tk 20 electronic data management system was procured in the summer of 2008. A new director of assessment and evaluation, Dr. Amy Thelk, was hired in April 2009 and charged with providing leadership and assisting with the development and implementation of our Unit Assessment System. . Dr. Thelk's duties include working with each of the programs and the PECC to clarify key assessments, continuing to develop and refine assessment instruments as needed, and to ensure that programs have multiple years of continuous data.
Responding to a need to coordinate and share information and advances related to the use of technology in teaching and learning, a newly organized Technology Committee was established within the college during the 2009-10 academic year. With representative from all departments and the ETMC, the goal of this committee is to support college and unit faculty in the implementation and modeling of educational technologies, recommend appropriate technology for faculty use, and offer professional development to faculty and staff. Over the last several years, significant purchases have been made to populate the Emerging Technologies Lab, serving the Educational Technology Media Minor. The COE 3245 instructional lab negotiations led to it becoming a university lab, with new MACs being installed in summer 2009.
Technology continues to expand the ways in which we learn and in which we teach our candidates. In order to sustain and enhance our programs through the understanding and application of technology, we will explore opportunities to exploit the possibilities of applying technology in new environments. For example, two possibilities are the potential use of iPads in our clinical supervision processes and imagining enhanced applications of Tk20 across our unit.
In terms of programming and curriculum, the unit continues to explore and develop new initiatives to meet the needs of our partner school divisions. For example, at the advanced level, our partners reported a critical need for additional licensed, well prepared school administrators. The Educational Leadership program was revitalized and has now expanded to include cohorts in 12 localities. For 2012, there are possibilities of starting cohorts in three additional localities.
Typically, the candidates in the programs are teachers employed by the division who are being prepared for leadership in their schools. A critical component of the program is the development of school improvement plans that can readily be applied and have an impact on the home schools and or divisions of the candidates. This direct link between the advanced program and the schools is impacting the environments in which the students are learning and ultimately their academic success.
Similarly, the Reading Specialist program was redesigned, serving four cohorts across three districts. In May of 2011, the first cohort of graduates in the Reading Specialists program graduated with 25 candidates receiving their degree. Their classroom-based research will have a profound impact on the children they teach and provide a vehicle for sustaining the work of the program.
To support and strengthen the development of partnerships throughout the community, region and Commonwealth, in 2006 a new administrative position was established in the college: Director of External Relations. In fall 2007, a School Partnership Advisory Committee was formed with representatives from our local partnership schools to serve as advisory to the dean. The group addresses issues related to field placement of our candidates, professional development needs of the faculty in the schools, and ways in which we can continue to enrich and expand our relationships. The group meets at least once a semester. As a result of the discussion by this group, a TESL program targeted at a local school division needs was started and an outreach effort focused on providing the professional studies courses needed by secondary teachers teaching with provisional licenses was developed.
The unit will continue to examine its present organizational structure to ensure that we have the most efficient mechanisms in place to develop and deliver high quality programs. At the present time, our partnership activities are reflective of conversations and goal setting among a wide range of parties. While the autonomy of the partnerships is valued and clearly supports the unique needs of the interested schools, faculty, and unit, we will examine how we develop partners and determine if a more deliberate, strategic planning process should be considered as we expand our partners and engage in conversations about preparing teachers.
A significant change in facilities occurred when the College of Education was relocated to Memorial Hall (MH) in 2006. The relocation of many of the unit’s entities into Memorial Hall provided opportunities for the unit to review and enhance operations. For example, with guidance from the college Advisory Council, additional technology enhancements, such as the purchase of mobile computer labs and “smart board” technology were incorporated into the rooms in Memorial Hall. Summer 2010 marked the opening of the newly constructed Forbes Center for the Performing Arts. With a 175,000 sq. ft. footprint, the Forbes Center includes classroom, rehearsal, and office facilities.
As part of a reorganization of college and unit committee structure, a Student Support and Advisement Committee (SSAC), made up of candidate and faculty representatives, was formed and charged with reviewing and developing resources to enhance the advising process among Professional Education Unit faculty and candidates. The committee solicits input from candidates and reports the results of their findings to the dean and the PECC.
Based on the results of the survey, a full time advisor was hired for the IDLS program. The SSAC developed a Student Advisement Website, and an Education Student Ambassadors group (TEACH) was organized. While housed in the college, candidates from across the unit may be selected to serve on TEACH. In addition to instituting these changes to support candidates, the unit has recently reviewed and expanded support for candidates’ Praxis 1 efforts. These include posting key information on the ESC website, peer tutoring provided by TEACH ambassadors, and working with JMU Student Support Services to identify support for test-taking strategies and specific math and/or writing assistance.
The Regional Teacher Education Agreement (RTEA), a collaborative agreement between JMU and three area community colleges (Blue Ridge, Lord Fairfax, and Piedmont Virginia) provides graduates from those institutions with a seamless transition into the unit’s teacher education programs. Education, arts and sciences, admissions, and community college representatives meet annually to review and revise the agreement and accompanying curriculum guides. This fall the unit is piloting a new web-based orientation for interested community college students.