Standard 3 Addendum:

Field Experiences & Clinical Practice

 

Evidence for the OnSite BOE Team to validate during the onsite visit:

1.  Collaboration between unit and school partners: Involvement of professional education faculty, including the clinical faculty, in the design, implementation, and evaluation of field experiences and clinical practice for initial and advanced programs?

Professional Education Faculty, including clinical faculty are involved in the design, implementation, and evaluation of field experiences and clinical practice in a number of different ways.  Professional education faculty are members of the MidValley Consortium and the Community Professional Growth and Development Committee.

Other avenues for participation and involvement are provided through district level meetings, partnerships, and programs. The Augusta County partnership group periodically reviews all field experiences and clinical practices and gathers information through surveys and school –based meetings.  Staunton City School administrators and teachers met with university faculty to develop an elementary education practicum, designed to support a recent professional development mathematics initiative. Waynesboro City schools teachers and principals provided feedback on the development of extended practicum/student teaching placements, and a curriculum revision advisory committee comprised of school personnel from various levels as well as clinical supervisors were involved in the redesign of the special education K-12: RISE curriculum. 

Orientation to the Profession (MSSE 101) is a semester-long, service-learning elective recommended for freshmen and sophomores considering a Middle Education or Secondary Education pre-professional program.  For this course, JMU students (approximately 50 each semester) are placed as after-school homework tutors in Harrisonburg City’s two middle schools.  Normally 10-12 weekly tutoring sessions are scheduled at each school in both the fall and spring semesters. The COE faculty (course instructors) and city school personnel (site coordinators) collaborate closely in planning and supervising these off-campus service-learning experiences.  Key tasks they share include:

  • Scheduling orientation and tutoring sessions
  • Developing key topics/materials for both on-campus and on-site orientations
  • Identifying effective homework support strategies for use by tutors
  • Sharing responsibility for monitoring and assessing tutor performance and overall professionalism
  • Participating in debriefing/reflection sessions on-campus at the end of each semester

Clinical faculty (cooperating teachers and university supervisors) are provided opportunities to give feedback on the placement. In the School Psychology Program, the faculty meet with practicum supervisors each semester at their school site to review student progress and to get feedback on curriculum and expectations. A few years ago the curriculum sequence had behavioral interventions required before the consultation course.   Field practitioner supervisors found that candidates were not well prepared for working with teachers to gain acceptance for behavioral interventions. The program changed the course sequence to have consultation come first, and intervention work goes more smoothly and successfully.

The most consistent form of written feedback is the use of the placement evaluation forms, (see Standard 3 Addendum Exhibit 1: Placement Evaluation) submitted at the end of each initial licensure clinical practice placement. Feedback is gathered through TK 20 and any concerns are shared with the department head or program coordinator either directly from the supervisor or from the ESC.

 

2. Design, implementation and evaluation of field experiences and clinical practice: Cooperating teachers’ assessment of the status of readiness of teacher candidates:

As stated in the Student Teaching Performance Guide (Standard 3 Addendum Exhibit 2: Student Teaching Performance Guide):

The process for observing and assessing the progress of a student teacher has been cross-referenced with the eleven core competencies that are part of James Madison University’s         conceptual framework. The assessment process is performance-based and encourages the student teacher to set goals, to reflect on his/her teaching progress, and to revise instruction accordingly. This process is continuous and multi-faceted, beginning when the student      teacher first arrives in the classroom and continuing throughout the placement. It is designed to assess the student teacher as a beginning teacher, not as a seasoned professional.

Cooperating teachers provide both formal and informal feedback of candidates’ readiness. Formal feedback includes a mid point and a final evaluation of student teachers, using the Assessment of Student Teaching Form (ST-9) and Observations of Classroom Teaching (see Standard 3 Addendum Exhibit 3: CT Feedback Forms). In addition, cooperating teachers review and respond to weekly reflection logs completed by candidates in the TK 20 field experience binder.

 

3. Candidates’ development/demonstration of knowledge, skills, and dispositions to help all students learn: Teacher candidates’ assessment of their preparation for classroom

Each program monitors candidate performance as they prepare for clinical practice. Each semester, program faculty review candidate performance and dispositions.  In each program, field experiences and clinical practice are co-joined with coursework and/or seminars, providing both candidates and program faculty opportunities to reflect on the candidates’ preparation. Responses on the alumni surveys indicate that the majority of candidates agreed or strongly agreed that they were well prepared in all areas. In addition, to formal means such as alumni surveys, programs often receive informal communication from alumni and employers regarding how well prepared JMU education graduates are.

4. Candidates’ development/demonstration of knowledge, skills, and dispositions to help all students learn: Readiness of teacher candidates to work with diverse learners

On the May 2011 alumni survey, candidates’ open ended responses to the question

Can you provide more information about how JMU's professional education program prepared you to use diversity, equity and social justice research to create supportive learning opportunities? For example, can you recall certain courses, individuals or experiences that aided your preparation in this area?

noted some specific  ways that their programs had prepared them to create supportive learning environments.

Student responses referenced coursework :

  • The diversity class most specifically prepared me to use research to create supportive learning opportunities. It was a good base that other courses built upon with references here and there to the topic.
  •  I completed a course during my first semester of education courses that was focused on diversity. The information that I learned and was forced to think about will help me use diversity in the classroom.
  • The diversity class that was taken my junior year (ELED310) provided the opportunity for me to experience diversity hands-on in the Harrisonburg community. In that class we discussed many diversity and equity issues and how to deal with similar situations that could possibly arise in the classroom.

And field experiences:

  • My placement in MSSE 571 in the Career Development Academy with Michelle Cude and Lisa Schick helped prepare me for interaction with diversity situations and ELLs.
  • Diversity class was helpful in this aspect, as well as my practicum experiences. I also completed a Spanish minor and my Practical Spanish class helped in this regard.

 However, about 25% of the respondents on alumni surveys (see IR Exhibit Standard 1.3.i Alumni Surveys) indicated that they either disagreed or were neutral in feeling prepared to teach students with disabilities and/or to teach and assess students with limited English proficiency. While candidates’ report they want more preparation, ratings by clinical faculty on the Assessment of Student Teaching (St-9) have not indicated this as an area of weakness. As seen in IR Standard 3, Exhibit 3.3.g, Clinical Experience Performance Data, cooperating teachers and university supervisors’ ratings of candidates’ competencies fall well within the acceptable- exemplary range (2.85-2.89 means/semester on a 3 point scale) on items aligned with Diversity competencies (B-2, B-3, C-1, C-2, C7- C-9).

In examining this mismatch between candidate perceptions and clinical faculty ratings, program faculty felt that candidates would benefit from having more field experiences in placements that have a large majority of students who are English Language learners. As a result of these responses, the unit has and is increasing its efforts to provide candidates with one or more field experiences in Harrisonburg City Schools, which has a large student population for whom English is not the primary language. Programs continue to work on infusing competencies related to working with students with disabilities and students for whom English is not their primary language into their curriculum.

In addition, program faculty have reached out to our school partners to provide candidates with additional experiences. For example, Item # 2 of the Augusta County School Partnership Minutes for May, 2011 (IR Exhibit 3.3a Partnerships: Augusta; 2010-2011 minutes) highlights the presentation by Augusta County teachers on strategies and accommodations for teaching ESL students and the role of the general education teacher in working with students with disabilities.

 

5. Collaboration between unit and school partners: Partner Schools participation in delivery, design and implementation and evaluation of clinical practice?

Delivery, design, implementation, and evaluation of clinical practice continues to be a discussion item with our partners in many different forums.

For example, discussions with division administrators from our seven local partners are reflected in the minutes of the May 2011 meeting of the School Partners Advisory Council: 

There was further discussion regarding the number of candidates that each school division or school could accommodate. Could the school request that number of candidates, and then JMU schedule those candidates? This would lead to better predictability, as the school would know that it would have X number of candidates each year or semester. If candidates were placed at the same school for all field experiences, then peer mentoring could be accomplished with those more experienced candidates mentoring the first year candidates. (IR Exhibit 3.3.a Partnerships: School Partners Advisory Council 2010-2011).

As noted in Question # 1 above, the Augusta County partnership group periodically reviews all field experiences and clinical practices and gathers information through surveys and school–based meetings.  The Augusta County Teacher in Residence coordinates this process with the Coordinator of Field Experiences for the JMU Education Support Center. As shown in the September 7, 2010 minutes, placements are reviewed at the Augusta County Partnership Meetings (IR Exhibit 3.3a Partnerships: Augusta; 2010-2011 minutes).

Although presently there is no Teacher in Residence from Waynesboro City Schools, a partnership group still meets regularly and again, reviews all field experiences and clinical practice placements, as evidenced in the June 15, 2011 JMU/Waynesboro Partnership minutes:  Sharon and Renae reported that practicum and student teaching placements went smoothly at BGES and WHES this past year. Sharon noted that teachers at BGES were positive about the placements and seemed more receptive to having candidates work in their classrooms, most likely because they felt they could count on the candidates being there throughout the year and developing strong relationships with students. (IR Exhibit 3.3 a Partnerships: Waynesboro; Agenda and Minutes: 2010-2011).

 

6. Design, implementation and evaluation of field experiences and clinical practice: Teacher candidate appeals process

Programs monitor candidates’ admission and retention status. Admissions criteria for both initial and advanced programs is provided to candidates at the program level and on the Education Support Center website (http://www.jmu.edu/coe/esc/admissions/criteria.shtml). There is a unit-wide appeal process that includes appeals for admission and retention into the professional education unit programs. This appeal process is outlined on the JMU Education Support Center Website (http://www.jmu.edu/coe/esc/admissions/appeals.shtml).

The Education Support Center monitors the admission status of all initial licensure candidates. Individual programs monitor student status and if program faculty determine that a student’s performance may keep him/her from being admitted to the program or progressing to the next transition point, the student is contacted, individually advised and guided to sources of remediation such as TEACH ambassadors Praxis 1 peer tutoring, and provided information regarding the appeals process. Candidates who do not agree with the program decision regarding admission or retention can appeal the decision and a unit wide, Admission, Retention and Exit  (A.R. & E) Committee reviews the decision to insure that the candidates’ due process has been upheld. As with other student appeals at the university, candidates may appeal the A.R. & E committee’s decision to the Dean of the College of Education.  Candidates in advanced programs appeal through the graduate school according to the processes and procedures outlined in the Graduate Catalog.

 

7. Collaboration between unit and school partners: Selection process of matching teacher candidates to schools

The selection process of matching teacher candidates to schools happens on several different levels. The Education Support Center (ESC) Coordinator of Field Experiences plays an integral role in this process. She meets regularly with program faculty to review requests, and then communicates with principals or central office staff to determine placements. Working with each school/division on their preferences for how they will handle making placements, central office contacts and/or principals/Aps, as designated by divisions, are contacted to request/coordinate field experiences.  A practicum request form and/or spreadsheet with candidate requests and Student Teaching Placement Guidelines (and supplemental applications as requested by certain divisions) are sent to school personnel along with email requests. Working with the school division designee the best fit is determined for each student request. 

In cases where a candidate has specific developmental needs (identified by the program) we will meet with the school division designee to “hand-pick” a known cooperating teacher (often a trained Consortium Clinical Faculty) that would be best for the candidate’s development. Candidates’ field experiences are tracked to ensure that candidates are provided with a variety of placements both in terms of diversity of school environments, as well as grade levels and driving distance from campus. 

Specific to matching candidates in clinical practice settings, ESC staff attend MidValley Consortium meetings and help determine requests for clinical faculty among the four participating higher education institutions. During the past four years, several programs have initiated blended practicum/student teaching placements, so candidates have a long term practicum and an eight week student teaching experience placement in the same setting. This has been very successful both in terms of positive clinical faculty and candidate feedback.  Placement of candidates in the practicum setting must be very carefully coordinated since one of their two student teaching experiences will also occur in that placement. Again, the ESC Coordinator of Field Experiences determines available placements from the schools, meets with program faculty, and jointly communicates with all parties to place the candidate.

 

8. Design, implementation and evaluation of field experiences and clinical practice: Entry and exit criteria for field and clinical placements

As seen in IR Exhibit 2.3.a Transition Point Templates, each program has different requirements that must be met for a candidate to successfully progress to the next transition point.

All initial licensure programs have the following criteria for admission to clinical experience, though some programs, such as PHETE and Music Education have additional criteria such as completion of First Aid or submission of a portfolio.

 

Initial Admission to Clinical Experiences

Full admission in Teacher Education

Satisfactory completion of all prerequisite coursework and field experiences

Submit resume

Submit cover letter

Submit results of TB screening indicating freedom from TB risk factors

Program approval

 

Again, for completion of Clinical Experiences, all initial licensure programs have the same criteria, though some programs have additional requirements.

 

Initial Completion of Clinical Experiences

Satisfactory evaluation of performance by university supervisor

Satisfactory evaluation of performance by cooperating teacher

Passing grade(s) in student teaching coursework

 

Advanced Programs transition points include continuation and completion of the program. As can be seen from the examples below, entry and exit criteria for clinical practice are contained in these transition points

 

Advanced Continuation in Program

 

 

SCHOOL PSYC

Successful completion of Level 1 School Psychology Educational Specialist Degree Requirements

Graduate GPA of 3.5 or better

Passing score on comprehensive exam

 

READING

Successful completion of READ 658: Practicum in Literacy Assessment and Intervention I

Graduate GPA of 3.0 or better

Successful completion of READ 665: Organization and Supervision of Reading Programs

K-8

MATH SPECIALIST

Successful completion of core coursework : MATH 502, MAED 626, MAED 627, Math 503

Graduate GPA of 3.0 or better

 

Ed Leadership

Successful completion of Professional Core

Successful completion of Leadership Concentration

Graduate GPA of 3.0 or better

 

Advanced Completion of Program

 

School Psych

Successful completion of Level II School Psychology Educational Specialist Degree Coursework

Successful completion of PSYC 790: Internship in School Psychology

Recommendation for Licensure

 

 

Reading

 

Passing score on VRA

Graduation

Recommendation for Licensure

 

K-8 Math Specialist

Passing score on comprehensive examination:

Successful completion of externship (masters level project)

Recommendation for Licensure

 

Ed Leadership

Passing score on comprehensive examination

Complete the ADSU 668 Internship including log of hours in acceptable adminstrative tasks and accompanying journal of activities, learnings and reflections

Passing score on SLLA – School Leader’s Licensure Assessment (if applicable)

Recommendation for Licensure

 

 

9. Design, implementation and evaluation of field experiences and clinical practice: “Red flag” or concern point for teacher candidate progress.

As discussed in earlier sections, university and clinical faculty as well as personnel in the Education Support Center closely monitor candidate performance in field experiences and clinical practices.  If there is a concern regarding candidate performance (knowledge, skills or dispositions) or a possible mismatch between the candidate and the placement expectations, direct communication with program faculty involve, at a minimum, the department head or program coordinator, in addition to the education support center staff, the cooperating teaching, the university supervisor and the candidate.

Because candidates move through programs in cohorts, program faculty are able to individually monitor candidate performance, including dispositions, in field experiences prior to clinical practice. This enables program to design individualized intervention plans. There are cases where candidate performance during clinical practice is problematic. As shown in the three examples, below, program faculty are in close communication with clinical faculty, cooperating teachers and the candidates to address concerns. Program faculty can provide additional examples to the team during the on-site visit. 

1.  In the spring semester of 2011 there was an instance of a student teacher who required many hours of continual support from both his cooperating teacher and university supervisor.  In the second half of the experience a contract was created, reviewed and signed by the student teacher; in the event that he did not meet the contract he was aware that his placement would be terminated and a grade of no credit would be given.  Unfortunately, in his final 2 weeks he did not meet the terms of the contract and the placement was terminated.  Both the cooperating teacher and supervisor were in agreement with this decision.  He was subsequently removed from the program and was unable to graduate. 

2.  As in the example above, program faculty worked closely with the school clinical faculty to support a candidate who fell far behind in daily lesson planning responsibilities during student teaching and often arrived late at her school.  After several warnings with no appreciable change in behavior, the candidate was removed from student teaching.  The program developed an intervention plan in which the candidate was placed in an extended practicum at another school that was designed specifically to help refine and hone lesson planning and instructional delivery skills (the program “hand picked” the classroom teacher).  After six weeks in the extended practicum, the student was removed at the request of the host school due to ongoing concerns about failing, once again, to meet the daily lesson planning and implementation responsibilities.  Consequently, the candidate received a grade of “F” for her extended practicum, a graduate-level course.  Per Graduate School policy, the candidate was automatically dismissed from further continuance in graduate program but could re-apply after one year.  To date, the candidate has not re-applied to the program. 

3.  Program faculty, the university supervisor and the cooperating teacher became concerned about a candidate’s ability to effectively plan and assess instruction during his Spring 2011 clinical practice. The candidate was provided with additional support, throughout his placement, however, it was determined that he had not yet sufficiently demonstrated the needed competencies for successful completion of student teaching. Accordingly, he was required to repeat student teaching and was placed with an experienced, cooperating teacher who is also trained as a Clinical Faculty Teacher through the Mid -Valley Consortium Clinical Faculty training, for an entire semester. Program faculty provided supervision and frequent communication with both the candidate and the cooperating teacher. The candidate successfully completed his student teaching in December of 2011, graduated, and was recommended for licensure.

 

10. Design, implementation and evaluation of field experiences and clinical practice: Review of full semester placement-

The pilot program for placing secondary candidates with instructional teams for one full semester had mixed results. Overall the faculty and candidates found the experience to be beneficial but found that cooperating teachers were hesitant to have a student teacher for an entire semester, noting concerns with standards and/or AP testing. However, as described in the above paragraph, the pilot did provide a model that was used in the Fall of 2011 to remediate a candidate who had not been successful in two different placements the prior semester. At this point, there are no plans to move forward with the pilot except in circumstances like the one described above.

However, the “clustering” model (several candidates placed at one or two schools), pilot for placements in Fairfax County (FCPS) and Waynesboro City Schools was very successful. This was a change from standard arrangements where JMU candidates are placed in separate high schools or middle schools. Both schools wished to continue the relationship with JMU for 2011-2012. Dr. Kristy Dunlap, reported:

As University Supervisor with student teachers grouped at two schools, I could focus on establishing professional relationships with faculty and administrators who now see me as a familiar face and understand JMUʼs expectations. Collaborative gatherings included a welcome orientation for JMU candidates, initial group meetings with cooperating teachers, several meetings with administrators, and a job application session with Fairfax County Schools Human Resources. Student teachers appreciated having each other as a support group, and we met periodically after school.”

The result was two successful semesters of student teaching experiences for eight JMU candidates at two FCPS schools, Centreville High and Liberty Middle Schools. Administrators at both schools actively supported these candidates as they interviewed and applied for teaching positions in FCPS. All eight candidates went through the official FCPS process to substitute; many have subbed frequently at these schools. One candidate was hired mid-year (contract, not long-term sub) for a math position at Liberty. Two were identified for "early hire," for Fairfax County and one was hired at Centreville High School. Of the 16 cooperating teachers that these candidates were placed with (each had a different placement each block), the candidates recommended 15 as good placements for future JMU candidates.

 

11. Design, implementation and evaluation of field experiences and clinical practice: Clarify how diversity of placements are ensured and tracked for initial and advanced candidates. 

All initial placements are coordinated through the Education Support Center (ESC). The Coordinator of Field Experiences tracks each candidate and matches his/her placements with information on school and division diversity, using data from the VDOE Fall Membership Report and the School Nutrition Program Statistics & Reports. Standard 4 Addendum Exhibit 7: School Summaries provides an example of the information used for this process. Schools are ranked high, medium or low in terms of student diversity (percentage of non-white students) and socio-economic status (percentage of students on free and reduced lunch), using the following scale:

0-20%= Low (L)

21-49%= Middle (M)

50-100%= High

Each student placement is determined based on the candidates’ request at time of application, consideration of prior field experiences in terms of both school/division and grade/content area, and the school division’s input and needs. Every attempt is made to place candidates in with different divisions and grade-level experiences in order to provide a broad and diverse range of placements for each candidate.  Information on prior field placements is kept in a database, and a working spreadsheet document is used to manage placements each semester (see Standard 3 Addendum Exhibit 4: Student Placements). 

The majority of our advanced programs are delivered to professionals who are already in the field. The diversity of the classrooms and divisions in which they teach reflects the diversity of the communities in which they are housed. A concerted effort is made to ensure that all candidates have the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and disposition necessary for working with diverse students.  The competencies adopted by the unit are being incorporated into the experiences and projects, as seen in Standard 4 Addendum Exhibit 8: Advanced Programs Diversity Experiences.

 

12. Design, implementation and evaluation of field experiences and clinical practice: Clarify how programs that offer distance and off-campus programs manage clinical and field placements.

Currently we have two advanced programs (Ed Leadership and Reading) that are off campus. Both programs operate on a cohort model and are developed in partnership with school divisions. Candidates in the cohorts are practicing school-based professionals, and the program coordinators track candidates’ experiences. The Educational Technology program is our only distance program. Again, the coordinator of that program manages each cohort’s experiences.

 

13. Design, implementation and evaluation of field experiences and clinical practice: Clarify performance evaluation process for clinical faculty and supervisors. How are they assessed, and what do data on effectiveness of clinical faculty show in terms of supporting and mentoring candidates?

Program coordinators and/or department heads have the responsibility for evaluations of clinical faculty and supervisors. Feedback is received via student evaluations of courses and candidates provide feedback on both cooperating teachers and university supervisors at the end of each student teaching experience (see Standard 3 Addendum Exhibit 5: Student Teaching Feedback).  This data confirms consistently positive, anecdotal reports from candidates on the support provided by clinical faculty and supervisors.  As reported in question 1, evaluations are also gathered from both the cooperating teachers and the university supervisors (see Standard 3 Addendum Exhibit 1). Program coordinators and/or department heads review data at the end of each semester. Supervisors are not re-hired if evaluations are not favorable. If concerns are expressed about the placement, program coordinators work with Education Support Center staff to review all information and contact school partners.  Program coordinators and department heads also use the feedback data to match university supervisors with student teachers based on needs of the candidates and the supervisors’ areas of expertise and experiences. As referenced in question 7 it is also used to determine placements for candidates who may have specific needs.

Some programs, such as School Psychology use clinical faculty who work in other roles at JMU: Our program uses clinical faculty who are full time at the Child Development Center housed at JMU for supervision of practicum casework and for student observations of professional assessments. The program director completes an evaluation form on the staff psychologist annually.

Other programs use a pool of experienced PK-12 master teachers and administrators who are interested in continuing their involvement in education by supervising and mentoring the next generation of teachers.  Many of them have been working with the programs for several years.  The process starts by applicants submitting a resume and then interviewing with the department head and/or program coordinator. Many programs are routinely in very close communication with clinical faculty through email and telephone and meet face-to-face at least once per semester with university supervisors. Course/supervision evaluation data is provided to the instructor/department head at the end of each semester and if there are ever concerns identified by either the instructor or department head, this is discussed with the supervisor.  In addition, sometimes questions or concerns are raised during the semester and these are addressed immediately.

The observations of the Special Education Programs is typical:

Our university supervisors have all been proven through several semesters of service and have each repeatedly received excellent student evaluations. Because of these experiences, we have been able to strategically place candidates with university supervisors who are good fits for the particular experiences or skills that the candidate needs. For example, in the last 4 years, the Special Education K-12 program has twice had to extend the fifth year practicum for two candidates whose skills were not yet at an “independent practice” level and have strategically placed them with a supervisor who can provide intensive support and hold them to rigorous standards.  In both cases the candidates moved into successful student teaching placements and successfully completed the program.  Both are currently employed as K12 Special Educators.


14. Candidates development/demonstration of knowledge, skills, and dispositions to help all students learn: Clarify how the unit ensures that candidates, initial and advanced, use instructional technologies during clinical and field experiences.

University faculty teaching the associated methods courses and practicum supervisors monitor candidates’ use of instructional technologies. During clinical practice, candidates’ use of instructional technologies is assessed on the Assessment of Student Teaching (ST-9) form (specifically by items B4 and C5). Advanced candidates’ use of instructional technology is reflected in program-specific projects and assignments designed to assess their abilities to use instructional technologies to analyze student data and to prepare and present their findings to a variety of audiences. For example, as part of the rubric for the Principalship Project, Educational Leadership candidates are assessed “on their efforts to design, implement, and evaluate instructional change based in best practice and recognizes human development, diversity, sound use of technology, effective research based instructional techniques.” School Psychology practicum rubric and instructions includes Section XI: Information Technology. Candidates in the Mathematics M.Ed. program complete a Teacher Work Sample project as a key assessment for Professional and Pedagogical Content knowledge that includes Use of Technology as an element in the Design for Instruction portion of the rubric.