3a.1. Who are the unit's partners in the design, delivery, and evaluation of the unit's field and clinical experiences?
The unit’s partners who collaborate on matters related to field experiences include the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (EED), Alaska school districts, community campuses, unit advisory groups, the Alaska Educational Innovations Network (AEIN), and the Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN). Standard 3A Exhibit 1 Memoranda of understanding, minutes from meetings, etc. to document partnerships with schools provide evidence of these collaborations.
- Alaska Department of Education and Early Development: EED is a key partner in all state licensure matters.
- Alaska School Districts: A UAA core theme is the Public Square, the cornerstone of which is community engagement. The school partnerships established by COE are one of the most significant contributions to the public square. Primary school district partners for the past three years, where 90% of the unit’s interns were placed, include Anchorage, Mat-Su, Fairbanks, and Kenai. The other 10% of the interns were placed in school districts that are remote, often not on the road system. These sites included districts as far north as Barrow, as far south as Unalaska, and as far west as Nome. In addition, primary school district partners for the initial program rural experience include Kodiak, Pribilof Island, Lake and Peninsula, Lower Kuskokwin, Yupiit, and Kashunamiut, all of which hosted four or more initial candidates over the past three years. The unit is prepared to work with any of the 54 school districts in Alaska. A new videoconferencing facility for distance supervision will enhance this capability.
- The Educational Leadership Department uses a principal cohort model in conjunction with district sponsorship. Fairbanks, Mat-Su, Juneau, and Anchorage school districts have sponsored cohort groups.
- Community Campuses: The unit collaborates with four community campus sites in the delivery of courses and/or programs: Mat-Su, Kenai, Kodiak, and Prince William Sound.
- Advisory Groups: The unit receives guidance and advice from various advisory groups including a) the COE Advisory Board, which is composed of representatives from unit faculty and administration, Arts and Sciences faculty, alumni, local school districts, Alaska Native organizations, and the Anchorage mayor’s office; b) the Teacher Education Council, which consists of representatives from the unit faculty and administration, Arts and Sciences, the Community and Technical College, candidates, and school districts; c) mentor teachers for initial programs; d) and educational leadership cohort district participants.
- AEIN and ASDN: The unit collaborates with two major networks in Alaska that facilitate site-based professional development and support.
3a.2. In what ways have the unit's partners contributed to the design, delivery, and evaluation of the unit's field and clinical experiences?
The Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development establishes regulations that influence the design, delivery, and evaluation of the unit’s clinical experiences. Specifically, state regulation requires that: clinical placements be in public schools; candidates pass a criminal history background check and hold a Student Teacher Certificate prior to participating in an internship; candidates be evaluated using the Alaska Beginning Teacher Standards to receive initial certification; and the unit only recommend candidates who have completed an EED-approved program.
In 2008, community campus partnership guidelines were established formalizing procedures related to field experiences for initial early childhood and elementary education programs. Education faculty from these sites attend program meetings where field experience issues are discussed. They communicate their perspectives and those of school-based mentors from their areas to the discussions, ensuring the needs of their local communities are considered.
Alaska school districts provide the sites and school-based faculty for all of the unit’s field and clinical experiences. Programs use various partnership agreements. School principals are involved in the selection and placement of initial and advanced teacher candidates and most other school professionals. Superintendents are involved in the placement of superintendent candidates. Program handbooks delineate the partners’ responsibilities, and are modified and updated based on input from partner schools, clinical faculty, and other faculty involved in field experiences. The school-based faculty provide day-to-day support and mentoring for interns and provide input necessary to complete the evaluation process conducted by the University supervisor.
The Educational Leadership principal cohort model requires that the sponsoring school district work closely with the department. The school district, in collaboration with department faculty, determines the placements and any district-specific activities for the cohort.
The unit’s advisory groups provide guidance on matters related to field and clinical experiences. The decision to implement a more strict background check policy for the unit was jointly made with the advisory groups, and the new policy was vetted through them before implementation.
AEIN partner school principals, mentor teachers, and cultural guides provide ongoing feedback and reflections used to prepare the initial program interns for a two-week rural field experience.
The Educational Leadership Department is a partner with ASDN in the Rural Alaska Principal Preparation and Support (RAPPS) grant. A design team, including unit faculty, outside consultants, Alaska superintendents and principals, and the director of the Alaska Administrator Coaching Program, examined the internship courses and provided rural-specific suggestions as part of the grant activities.
3a.3. What are the roles of the unit and its school partners in determining how and where candidates are placed for field experiences, student teaching, and internships?
Candidate placement in field experiences and internships is collaborative. Factors that contribute to placement decisions include diversity of school population, grade level requirements for licensure, prior field placement recommendations, content requirements, district-approved sites, prior school site and mentor teacher evaluations, and candidates’ geographic location needs.
The Director of Clinical Services and Certification manages the Anchorage School District (ASD) field experience placements for early childhood and elementary programs. Clinical Services provides the school district with a description of the practicum expectations; principals recommend teachers. Candidates sign up for the school and class of their choosing. Community campus education faculty follow similar procedures to collaborate with the local district. For rural placements, the candidate must seek approval from Clinical Services and the district.
Internship placement is handled separately from other field experiences. Early childhood, elementary, and MAT candidates must first be admitted to the internship through a process including an application, interview, and criminal history background check. ASD identifies schools comprising diverse settings that will give candidates experience with different educational philosophies and with students who are English Language Learners, ethnically diverse, have special needs, and come from different socioeconomic groups. The Director of Clinical Services meets with principals to begin the placement process after they have met with their teachers and reviewed the information provided in the candidate’s internship application. The interns and mentor teachers then meet for an interview. Similar procedures are used at the community campus sites, with the education faculty on site serving as the contact. For rural placements, the candidate is typically limited to one school site and must seek approval from Clinical Services and the district.
Placement of candidates in advanced programs for teachers and other school professionals is program-specific. Clinical Services supports placements for school counseling candidates; the procedures are similar to the initial programs. For special education candidates, the geographic location and employment status influences procedure. Employed candidates generally complete their internships at their school sites. The principal must approve the placement, and the mentor teacher must meet criteria established by the program. For candidates who are not employed, the department chair or assigned faculty contacts the district’s central office staff and obtains site recommendations. Placement is confirmed through Clinical Services for ASD and through assigned faculty for other districts. Placement of educational leadership interns is determined in collaboration with the program faculty and the site or central administration of the partnering district.
3a.4. How do the unit and its school partners share expertise and resources to support candidates' learning in field experiences and clinical practice?
Partner school districts positively engage in the shared responsibility to prepare future educators, and participate by making significant contributions to support candidates’ learning in field experiences. The unit depends upon these partners to provide both appropriate placement sites and outstanding educators to serve as school-based faculty who help prepare teachers and other school professionals. These faculty provide substantial guidance and direction to each intern during the variety of field placements that occur, and provide invaluable input into the intern evaluation process conducted by University supervisors during informal and formal observations. In addition to the direct guidance provided to interns, partner input is collected routinely through advisory boards, mentor workdays (initial programs), one-on-one contact (advanced and other school professionals), and formal and informal surveys to help the unit improve field experiences.
Unit faculty serve as professional development providers and have professional interactions in their areas of expertise. The mentor coordinator offers training and problem-solving opportunities to mentor teachers for initial programs. The coordinator serves on the Mentoring Advisory Board for ASD and participates in joint mentoring training. Mentor teachers also participate in orientation sessions with their interns.
AEIN school partners host initial program interns for a two-week rural experience. They provide placements, cultural guides, and mentor teachers. Site teams share their local knowledge and expertise with the interns. AEIN also sponsors a faculty exchange, and many COE faculty have participated in professional development opportunities in rural Alaska to enhance their knowledge and increase their ability to use culturally responsive teaching practices.