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3b. Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Field Experiences and Clinical Practice

3b.1. What are the entry and exit requirements for clinical practice?

The entry and exit requirements for clinical practice are detailed in Table 6 Unit Assessment System: Transition Point Assessments. In general, for initial programs, entry requirements include completion of content and foundation coursework with a minimum GPA of either 2.75 or 3.0, minimum of C grades in certification coursework, passing scores on the Praxis II, criminal history background clearance (Student Teacher Certificate), good physical health, positive experiences with children, and positive professional recommendations. In addition, all candidates must have accident insurance. Exit requirements include completion of the internship hours and demonstration of meeting both content-specific professional standards and all 8 Alaska Beginning Teacher Standards through portfolio and internship evaluations.

For advanced programs and those for other school professionals, in general, entry requirements include completion of specific courses with a minimum GPA of 3.0, no grades lower than a C, and current certification or criminal history background clearance. In addition, Counselor Education requires professional liability insurance exceeding that provided by the University and Early Childhood Special Education requires a professional dispositions survey. Exit requirements include successful completion of specific internship assignments, completion of internship hours, and portfolio and internship evaluations indicating that program, state, and professional standards have been met.

3b.2. What field experiences are required for each program or categories of programs (e.g., secondary) at both the initial teacher preparation and advanced preparation levels, including graduate programs for licensed teachers and other school professionals? What clinical practice is required for each program or categories of programs in initial teacher preparation programs and programs for the preparation of other school professionals?

Table 7
Field Experiences and Clinical Practice by Program

3b.3. How does the unit systematically ensure that candidates develop proficiencies outlined in the unit's conceptual framework, state standards, and professional standards through field and clinical experiences in initial and advanced preparation programs?

The unit requires that all course syllabi and portfolio and internship assessments align with the unit’s conceptual framework and appropriate state and professional standards. The syllabi are a constant reminder to candidates and faculty of what unit values and standards must be achieved. Programs have aligned state and professional standards with the unit’s core values as illustrated in Overview Exhibit 8 Standards Alignment Table. The portfolio and internship assessments demonstrate to candidates and school-based faculty how the values and standards are operationalized and assessed in the field.

Internship handbooks (Std3b.Exh6) must also include the appropriate standards. For initial programs, the handbooks are reviewed with mentor teachers, clinical faculty, and interns as part of the fall orientation. During mentor workdays, the conceptual framework is revisited with the mentor teachers in order to emphasize the core values that the unit expects their candidates to exhibit. For advanced programs, the University supervisors review the handbooks with both interns and school-based faculty.

The unit’s exit, alumni, and employer surveys provide additional evidence that the candidates have developed proficiencies outlined in the conceptual framework and professional standards through course and field experiences.

3b.4. How does the unit systematically ensure that candidates use technology as an instructional tool during field experiences and clinical practice?

The unit requires that all syllabi include a “commitment to technology” statement, which illustrates the unit’s strong focus on the use of technology and the modeling of effective practice by professional education faculty.

Initial Early Childhood and Elementary program candidates take a course on how to integrate technology in teaching and learning, and are expected to demonstrate proficiency in this area. All initial program candidates routinely receive instruction on and view models of technology use in foundation and methods classes, preparing them to deliver lessons using technology. Candidates must indicate in their lesson plans how they will integrate technology into their lessons. One of the 8 Alaska Beginning Teacher Standards explicitly includes instructional applications of technology as a performance indicator, requiring clinical faculty to observe the candidates’ use of technology during clinical practice. Candidates have experience with distance delivery technologies and classroom assessment and record keeping tools in addition to instructional tools. Candidates must use TaskStream to archive artifacts demonstrating their progress toward meeting standards, and must use technology, such as PowerPoint, in the presentation of their capstone project at the end of their internship.

Candidates in advanced programs, those for other school professionals, and most initial programs rely heavily on distance technology to participate in classes, many of which are offered only by distance delivery methods. Candidates are experienced in using BlackBoard, Elluminate, and other technologies that support their learning efforts. Special Education candidates participate in an eLive internship seminar at least once a month, which requires them to utilize a variety of formats, including streaming video, PowerPoint presentations, document sharing, and blogging. Candidates demonstrate the use of technology in their internships through lesson plans and portfolio artifacts, and are exposed to a variety of assistive technology devices for special needs students. Candidates in Educational Leadership programs also use a variety of distance technologies and are exposed to the technology used for administrative purposes by the districts in which they complete their internships.

Counselor Education candidates are evaluated on their knowledge and use of technology during their internships. Additionally, a COE faculty member is piloting a novel use of technology: she has established a curriculum for one of the classes based on Second Life. She is interested in the potential to set up counseling scenarios for candidates in a simulated situation that avoids the confidentiality issues involved in the direct supervision of candidates as they work with troubled students.

3b.5. What criteria are used in the selection of school-based clinical faculty? How are the criteria implemented? What evidence suggests that school-based clinical faculty members are accomplished school professionals?

The College has established criteria for the selection of school-based clinical faculty (Std3b.Exh2). Mentor teachers for initial programs must hold an Alaska Professional Teacher Certificate at the appropriate developmental level and in the appropriate content area, have 4 years’ successful teaching experience, and be recommended by the principal. Mentors must also attend mentoring classes if available in their area. The selection is a collaborative effort between the Director of Clinical Services and school administrators. Mentors have highly-qualified status in accordance with EED standards. Intern and clinical faculty evaluations of the mentors provide additional information about the quality of the school-based faculty.

In some rural Alaskan districts, there may be only one mentor teacher available, and s/he may not meet all requirements. These teachers may still become mentors, but may require more support from the Director of Clinical Services and the University supervisor.

For advanced programs and those for other school professionals, mentors must be employed in a public school, approved by the site supervisor, and hold appropriate certifications and endorsements including the Alaska Professional Teacher Certificate endorsed in special education or early childhood special education, Alaska Type B Administrative Certificate, and the Alaska Type C Special Services Certification endorsed in school counseling.

Special Education candidates may select their mentor teachers with their principals’ assistance. Mentor qualifications must be reviewed and approved by the University supervisor.

Principal and Superintendent candidates are generally working professionals and request placements in the schools or districts in which they are employed. The supervising administrator must hold a master’s degree and be approved by the University supervisor. Sponsoring districts involved in principal cohort groups may provide both release time and other locations than the home school to broaden candidates’ experiences.

3b.6. What preparation do school-based faculty members receive for their roles as clinical supervisors?

Generally, school-based faculty receive program handbooks that include policies, procedures, and expectations associated with field-based experiences, and attend orientation sessions prior to beginning supervisory work (Std3b.Exh3). Orientations are delivered in a variety of formats including distance, on-campus group sessions, or on-site one-on-one.

School-based faculty for initial programs receive instruction that includes mentoring skills and advanced communication skills. In addition, they attend an orientation in the fall of each year and participate in the mentor workdays offered throughout the year. Each spring, the school-based faculty participate in a review of the handbook guidelines and make recommendations based on the previous year’s experiences.

For all advanced programs and those for other school professionals, the University supervisors provide the necessary instruction and ongoing support for the school-based faculty. University supervisors in Educational Leadership consult with field mentors through audioconferencing, eLive sessions, and/or site visits. In all cases, mentor preparation is accomplished through one-on-one or small-group instruction. The instruction’s purpose is to ensure that the University is considerate of the school’s unique needs and circumstances and that the intern and mentor are aware of and compliant with University procedures and protocols. The process is similar for the Special Education programs. Special Education also has monthly seminars that school-based faculty are invited to attend. Counselor education holds an orientation meeting with the school-based faculty, candidate, and University supervisor at the beginning of the year. In addition, a new course in counseling supervision will be made available to school-based faculty.

3b.7. What evidence demonstrates that clinical faculty members provide regular and continuous support for student teachers, licensed teachers completing graduate programs, and other school professionals?

Clinical faculty for initial programs must submit a weekly report that summarizes their visits to the interns and the progress each is making. In addition, four times a year, clinical faculty submit formal evaluations of interns’ progress in meeting standards. During the first semester the interns complete a mini-residency that allows the clinical faculty to determine each intern’s strengths and areas needing support. Using this assessment, the clinical faculty and mentor teacher can implement supports to better prepare the intern for the second semester’s 30-day residency. Clinical faculty attend a monthly meeting with the Director of Clinical Services to review upcoming events and deadlines, raise concerns, and provide field experience status reports.

For all advanced programs and those for other school professionals, unit faculty serving as university supervisors fulfill the clinical faculty role. Special Education candidates receive 3 observations from the University supervisor for each 3 credits of internship. The supervisor also participates in the midterm evaluation and the final evaluation with the mentor teacher. Candidates receive a disposition form as feedback during the midterm evaluation and a final disposition evaluation. For Educational Leadership programs, the primary vehicle for supporting candidates is the use of distance technologies. Regular Elluminate sessions are held as part of the internship seminar. Face-to-face meetings are held when possible, and communication occurs by phone and e-mail. Superintendent candidates and school-based mentors participate in a listserv. For Counselor Education, the University supervisor meets with the mentor to review the contract and expectations at the beginning of the year, observes the candidate at least once during the internship experience, and meets with the mentor for purposes of completing the internship evaluations.

3b.8. What structured activities involving the analysis of data and current research are required in programs for other school professionals?

Candidates completing master’s degrees for other school professionals are required to complete 6 credits of research coursework:  a research foundations course, and two additional courses from a menu of research offerings such as action research, qualitative research, literature reviews, program evaluation, and data-informed instruction. As part of the research classes, candidates actively participate in data analysis and engage in the exploration of current research.

In addition, the RAPPS grant provides support to prepare Alaska Natives as principals in high poverty areas. As part of the grant, data will be gathered and Educational Leadership candidates will learn how to analyze the information, apply the findings, and measure the improvement in student learning. The grant also focuses on preventing the occurrence of student drop-out. Candidates and faculty will study the drop-out problem in rural Alaska in an effort to improve high school graduation rates.