Standard Two

Narrative for Standard Two in the CAEP self-study report

The EPP establishes and maintains mutually beneficial partnerships with diverse P-12 schools for high-quality clinical preparation of candidates. These partnerships rely on effective communication to construct experiences with shared expectations for candidate outcomes. Partnerships with school districts are a shared responsibility for candidate preparation. Programs' (Student teaching handbooks) share these expectations. Given the large numbers of candidates being placed and the varied nature of potential placements, each EPP program provides dedicated resources to support and foster relationships with the districts for clinical placements. For some programs this is a program coordinator or field experiences coordinator, for other programs, The Curriculum and Instruction Field Experiences office,, serves in this role. Regardless of the coordination model employed, across all programs, we are responsive to our partner school districts as we strategically place candidates in classrooms with experienced and dedicated mentor teachers.

While some partnerships are long established, relationships with districts evolve and the EPP actively seeks partnerships with districts that may provide candidates opportunities for additional experiences with diverse students or opportunities for candidates to explore innovative practices and technologies. For example, recent discussion with some partner districts has explored possibilities for new mentorship models that include an increased role in supervision by district personnel in partnership with the EPP programs.

Maintaining partnerships for the benefit of candidates and all stakeholders is ongoing. Programs meet with stakeholders throughout the semester for all levels of field experience. For example, the CIFE office meets with districts to consider current placement opportunities and to envision new models for placements and revised mentorship models and partnerships. HPE faculty coordinators send out specific guidelines to partnership districts containing what the student's placement will need to consist of, and communication between the two entities continues as mentors are selected and students are placed in the schools. As another example, the SPLED coordinator meets regularly with SPLED directors in Altoona and State College to discuss assignments and field experience expectations and placements. Some candidates participate in an award winning Professional Development School (PDS) (NAPDS), which demonstrates a particularly unique partnership. Our PDS hosts monthly meetings with administrators and PSU representatives to discuss needs, new ideas, and potential changes (Slice and Principal Agendas) and to address any concerns. Slice agendas provide some insight into the coordination and collaboration of this mutually beneficial partnership between the EPP and the district. In other partnerships, clinical experiences are coordinated to provide two-semester field experiences during which candidates are with the same mentor teacher in the same classroom and linked for fall-spring or spring-fall.

While programs effectively communicate with partner districts and there is expected variance in the communication models with districts. In preparing the self-study report we noted that programs may learn effective strategies from one another regarding consistent communication and mechanisms to include stakeholders in program development. This topic has been added to the agenda of an upcoming PCCC meeting for Fall 2018. One result of such discussion might be a strategy to include district partners and stakeholders to develop a master course structure for student teaching field experiences that all mentors and supervisors could use. This would add additional consistency to the field experiences, could assure technology competencies are addressed in similar ways, and could increase clarity and expectations about field placements during student teaching. Memoranda of understanding (MOUs) provide support that candidates, P-12 schools, and the EPP benefit from these varied partnerships. These MOUs are regularly reviewed and revised to assure that they represent the current status of partnerships and that they evolve to meet the needs of stakeholders (SCASD-PSU MOU).

Numerous mechanisms provide ongoing opportunity for partners to share insights into programs and candidate preparation. For example, EPP coordinators, faculty, and staff conduct site visits and meetings among partner district and EPP personnel are regularly scheduled. Program faculty are engaged in a continuous evidence-based program revision process to enhance the preparation of candidates (i.e., well-started beginning teachers). We hold monthly meetings of the faculty during the academic year and two full-day retreats annually. During our time together, we discuss program innovations and pilot studies, analyze alignment of program vision and goals with current practices, identify problems of practice and possible solutions, and address themes and practices intended to improve coherence across the program, including field experiences.

Continuous improvement efforts are supported by annual surveys of stakeholders in clinical partnerships, including mentors, supervisors, and school districts, as well as candidates. The EPP programs examine and evaluate survey results to inform program and process modifications (PDS history marking changes made from year to year based upon survey results, Candidate Survey Results; Mentor Teacher Survey Results). At the end of each academic year, the PDS surveys the three primary partners in the community—interns, mentor teachers, and parents of the students in mentor teacher classrooms. The results of these surveys inform planning decisions for the following year. For example, although the intern responses overall are very positive, there may be concerns shared by interns about the spring seminar. This might include things such as the length of the seminar, the day of the week on which it was scheduled, or the required assignments. These are the types of suggestions that the planning team for the following year will take into account when organizing seminars in the future. Mentors’ survey responses often confirm the importance of supporting their candidates’ required teacher inquiry projects. These data assist in determining a focus for future inquiry workshops. Mentors also share their interest in professional development opportunities, such as attending a mentoring class, participating in teacher research, or completing university coursework. This feedback is used to determine future offerings the PDS can provide for mentors. Mentor teachers share the parent survey with the parents in their classrooms. Over the years, there has been a consistent pattern of positive feedback obtained from the parent survey. Comments include descriptions of positive relationships their children have developed with their classroom intern and the benefits parents observe through their participation in parent conferences, weekly newsletters, and classroom visits. These data are shared annually with the school district board of directors and are used to help candidates realize the importance of a strong parent-teacher-student relationship.

All teacher preparation programs at Penn State share a common set of commitments communicated in "Penn State's Conceptual Framework for the Preparation of School Personnel.” Our academic programs are founded on the belief that education can positively affect the life experience of individuals and the nature of the world at large. We regularly share the pillars of our conceptual framework with our school-based partners and ask for their expertise in helping our students achieve success as they enact the pillars in their field sites. The EPP ensures that candidates have active clinical experiences. Program coordinators work collaboratively with district partners, supervisors, and mentor teachers to clearly outline expectations and plan opportunities for candidate's placements (MOA, Student teaching handbooks).

Candidates are provided a series of field experiences during their programs. These experiences vary by program and by candidate. Some candidates, for example, engage in additional experiences, such as technology-supported tutoring of students from schools that enroll high numbers of underrepresented/underserved students. Recently launched programs, such as study away in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, will provide candidates opportunities to engage in full semester internships in diverse schools. In response to candidates' feedback and in accord with best practices in teacher education (e.g., Freeman, 2010), the EPP is working to provide more experiences, more diverse experiences, and earlier experiences to candidates in our programs.

The (Field Experiences table) illustrates the depth and breadth of the required field experiences in the college. Our teacher preparation programs provide an intentionally designed, sequenced set of clinical field experiences that link with content and method courses to gradually increase the role of teacher candidates in the classroom across field experiences. All programs have pre-student teaching with active teacher candidate involvement in teaching. All have a full-time, full-semester student teaching experience that provides enough time for candidates to intervene and have an impact on classroom learners. The (field experience hours) table provides an example of how expectations of candidates' and their experiences evolve as they gain more knowledge, skills, and experience. Clinical experiences are designed to help candidates develop effectiveness as a teacher and have a positive impact on all students’ learning and development. A variety of course assignments are designed to help candidates reflect on their experiences, all of which are part of a university designed electronic portfolio where they demonstrate how they have met a series of performance indicators in the areas of planning, teaching, assessing their teaching and student learning, and professionalism. Evidence compiled over the last year of teacher education include journal entries, video analysis, unit development, and assessment of whole class and individual learners.

Penn State teacher preparation programs work in collaboration with clinical partners to provide candidates rich and diverse clinical field experiences to support the development of their knowledge, skills, and dispositions to assure they are classroom ready upon completion of their field experience. All programs observe and provide feedback to teacher candidates, who are observed on a regular basis. All programs evaluate teacher candidate progress through direct observations and assignments that align with the program standards. Candidates are evaluated through numerous assessments throughout their field experience and in particular at two benchmark periods, midterm and end of semester. During midterm conferences and end-of-semester conferences, candidate, mentor, and supervisor discuss the candidate's progress, goals, and challenges. All programs use the Pennsylvania Department of Education evaluation (PDE 430) that assesses teacher candidates, preparation, delivery, communication, and professionalism. Each program also enhances the performance evaluation with a discipline-specific evaluation form that aligns more closely with the respective professional standards. Evaluation forms completed, reviewed, and discussed during these times provide feedback and evidence of candidate development (ST-1 forms, PDE 430 forms) and impact on P-12 student learning and candidates' progress and growth.

Each field experience in the undergraduate and graduate programs assess teacher candidate professionalism with the same form that highlights professional behavior. The field experience mentor, candidate, and University supervisor complete the form for the midterm conference in each experience as a goal setting opportunity for improvement. At the end of each experience, the mentor and University supervisor complete the same form as part of the field experience evaluation. In student teaching the Penn State teacher evaluation used for Standard four of our assessment includes many of the same behaviors in the professionalism and communication sections of the student teaching evaluation. The student teaching evaluation also directly assesses candidate pedagogical knowledge. The program uses the same procedure in student teaching with the midterm as a goal setting opportunity using the student teaching evaluation as a guide. The Penn State teacher evaluation form uses domains in line with the CEC initial teaching preparation standards. The Penn State Special Education faculty have included instruction about disposition for teaching in coursework. Teacher candidates complete a self-evaluation of dispositions for teaching each semester for their reflection and goal setting as they move toward their teaching career. We share the self-evaluation form with candidates each semester in the field experience seminar. We do not collect or review candidate responses as it is their self-evaluation of their growth. While candidates are continually assessing their performance, they are formally assessed at the middle and end of the program to demonstrate development of knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions.

Of critical importance in candidate preparation is that partnerships ensure that theory and practice are linked by maintaining coherence across clinical and academic components of preparation. Clinical preparation for many of our candidates include a pre-student teaching field experience. To maintain coherence across clinical and academic components of preparation, P-4 candidates take CI 495A simultaneously with their math, science, and social studies methods courses. Candidates link theory and practice as they plan lessons in their methods classes with instructors knowledgeable in their content areas, then teach the lessons to students in their school classrooms with mentors knowledgeable in pedagogy. (Syllabi for DI block classes, DI block/CI 495A meeting notes). Assuring similar coherence across programs was a focus for the EPP this past academic year with the result of increased clarity and structures to support stakeholders as they engage candidates in courses and mid-level field experiences. In addition to partnerships with districts and assuring our field placements support development of candidates' knowledge, skills, and dispositions, relationships with varied stakeholders extend from the pre-professional programs through student teaching and beyond. One such partnership is with the Alumni Student Teaching Network (ASTN meeting agendas), which provides support for our candidates during their field experiences and into the profession. Other community-based partners also serve in important collaborations with our programs.), which provides support for our candidates during their field experiences and into the profession. Other community-based partners also serve in important collaborations with our programs.

We also recognize that candidates' development is impacted by their consistent use of notebook computers and digital tools across the program. For programs participating in the EDUCATE initiative, candidates are required to bring laptops/tablets to all class sessions. In methods courses and field experiences, candidates use digital tools (e.g., blogs, video analysis, podcasts, e-portfolios) to support their development as teachers. The contribution of EDUCATE to methods instruction and teacher development is evaluated regularly, and faculty use results to identify new tools and practices to support candidates' learning. In addition, in the mid-level field experience, each candidate starts a digital portfolio that addresses the candidate's ability to meet the standards of the Penn State Teacher Education Performance Framework. The framework addresses four domains of teaching and learning: Planning and Preparing for Student Learning, Teaching, Inquiry, Analysis of Teaching and Learning, and Fulfilling Professional Responsibilities

The use of videotaping lessons for teacher candidate self-reflection is used by all programs as technology-enhanced learning opportunities for instruction at early stages of preparation and for self-reflection as teacher candidates move toward being teachers. As an example, our Special Education and Kinesiology programs use a mobile app to code and analyze videotape. In Special Education, across field experiences observation forms guide candidates to look at teaching behavior aligned with explicit instruction. For example, teacher candidates view and mark the form when verbal praise is observed during their lesson. At the end of the analysis, the teacher candidate reviews the data and reflections on the frequency, type, and timing of the noted praise. The specific observations and reflections build across semesters so the teacher candidate can identify and discuss teaching behaviors in the context of growth. The ability to identify and address teaching behaviors prepares candidates to demonstrate candidates’ development, as delineated in Standard 1, throughout their careers.

Mentor teachers are critical partners in the preparation of teacher candidates. Effective mentor teachers provide positive impact on candidates’ development, which, in turn, increases P-12 student learning and development. EPP programs work collaboratively with district stakeholders to place candidates with effective mentor teachers. To prepare and support high-quality mentors, the EPP offers a Course, C&S 470: Mentor as Teacher Educator (syllabus for CS 470). In this course, teachers explore and reflect upon the developmental nature of learning to teach, classroom-based observation, and conferencing. Various models of co-teaching are explored to maximize opportunities for learning in the classroom. In any clinical placement setting, a teacher who is interested in hosting and mentoring a teacher candidate must be approved by the building principal and district superintendent or designated administrator.

Candidate placements are decided upon by the university and school district partners. Districts who host candidates hold agreements with the EPP (MOA agreements). These agreements are collaboratively developed and vary in order to accommodate unique needs of districts. Through these agreements, stakeholders collaborate and discuss the criteria for hosting student teachers, agree upon stipends, candidate requirements for student teaching, reciprocal responsibilities, and timelines for communication and placement.

The process for identifying and matching mentor teachers and candidates varies by district partnership and program context. In some programs, program coordinators work directly with principals or other school personnel. For some programs, supervisors coordinate placements with districts. For example, an administrator provides the supervisor a list of teachers available to mentor and then the supervisor uses a variety of processes to pair a candidate with a mentor. Some have interviews with both parties (interview question and protocol document), and others interview the student teachers and use historic knowledge about the mentors to pair them (student teacher application form). Regardless of the individual district model used, the selection of mentor teachers is a collaboration between the EPP and districts.

Mentor teachers work closely with supervisors or coordinators and establish partnerships to support candidates during their field experiences. Mentor teachers are supported by the EPP through supervisors and the coordinators or CIFE office. As part of the partnership to prepare classroom ready candidates, mentor teachers are provided information about expectations, assignments, and requirements each semester (mentor info sheet). Student teachers also are provided materials to assure clarity in expectations within the field experience. For example, they receive orientation materials, assignment handbooks, student teaching handbooks, and assignment calendars (assignment handbook document). At the beginning of the semester, EPP faculty and staff hold meetings with mentors and student teachers to assure shared understanding of expectations, requirements, and assignments.

Knowledge about district partners, potential mentor teachers, and candidates—accumulated via monitoring during candidates' programs—are weighed as placements are considered and made. Unique needs of partner districts are considered as well. For example, some school districts request student teachers either only the fall or spring semester, and capacity to support candidates within clinical sites may vary year to year. We accommodate such districts’ requests by strategically sorting our teacher candidates based upon semester and available placements.

Programs work in partnership with school districts and strive to involve districts in recruitment of supervisors and mentor teachers, and expectations for placements as well as responsibilities of mentors, supervisors, and candidates. To provide the student with the best possible 15-week experience, criteria for a successful placement include: academic strength of the student and their accompanying resume, prior relationship with the district and personalities, school environment, school culture, mentors, and current programming in the school.

While in their placements, candidates are expected to focus on their impact on student learning. Candidates work closely with their mentors as they transition over the field experience to effectively leverage foundational content knowledge and employ varied pedagogies in order to impact student learning. Candidates, for example, complete a student impact project in student teaching in all areas of certification. The project assesses candidates' use of sources of student data to inform decision making regarding intervention in order to address individual learner's needs. The plans vary in length, but all provide a coherent set of lessons to intervene with a student in a culturally sensitive manner to teach and gather evidence of the outcome. Candidates employ effective uses of technology to support student learning. They assess student learning through multiple methods to inform instructional decisions. They modify instruction and differentiate instruction as necessary based upon effective student assessment. In addition to collective performance on ST-1 (ST-1) and PDE-430, survey results support candidates report ability to differentiate instruction for individual learners (Candidate Survey Results).

Candidates in any PSU Special Education Programs have three opportunities to have a direct impact on PK-12 learners. In the pre-student teaching practicum, teacher candidates at all levels are in special education settings planning and implementing scripted lessons appropriate for students in the setting. University supervisors observe the lessons and provide feedback to the candidate. Classroom students benefit from the additional and systematic instruction. In another pre-student teaching practicum, SPLED 495G, teacher candidates work in general education classrooms. Over a 10-week period (12 hours per week) they work with at-risk students and serve as a classroom resource for the general education teacher. Teacher candidates, in consultation with the general education teacher, identify an at-risk student for an academic intervention. The teacher candidate then develops a curriculum-based measurement in that area, implements instruction, collects data, and modifies instruction as necessary. The impact of the intervention is reported at a team meeting with teachers. Information provided by the teacher candidate serves to assist team members in the core and related services in making plans for future interventions or referrals. The candidate also formally observes the meeting and reports back on collaboration and communication skills used by team members at the meeting. In the semester of student teaching, candidates at all levels implement the data-driven instruction process in a special education setting with a group of diverse learners. The candidate assesses and monitors the impact on learning over a 10- to 12-week period. The information is then used in updates for the classroom student's IEP. In two different semesters, candidates apply the knowledge and skills of curriculum-based assessment, progress monitoring, and data-driven decision-making in classroom settings. These opportunities provide impact on learning for P-12 students as the teacher candidates monitor progress, graph performance, and develop interventions.

Programs in AEE and EECE and SECED English PDS include assignments that use practitioner inquiry and reflection as a vehicle for assessing candidate impact on student learning. In AEE, candidates are asked to create a digital blog in which they post weekly reflections, tag specific words, and provide evidence of their classroom experience. When candidates participate in the PDS program they are asked to complete an inquiry investigation by the end of the spring semester. Candidates develop their own question to investigate, decide upon strategies to use to investigate the question, implement the strategies and lessons, collect data from their school students, analyze the data and then reflect upon their findings. Candidates often ask more questions as the inquiry proceeds and re-collect data after revising their original plans. Candidates share their inquiry projects with the partnership at the annual Inquiry Conference (Inquiry Conference program).

The Penn State College of Education teacher preparation programs strive to prepare teacher candidates to teach all children anywhere in Pennsylvania and beyond. All candidates have several experiences working with students from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds built into each major as well as additional opportunities for diversity experiences in the classroom through Maymester courses (courses offered between the spring and summer sessions). For example, CI 295D Urban Experience is a course that provides candidates with opportunities to observe and participate in ethnically diverse urban settings. CI 280 provides immersion experiences for candidates in Hazleton, PA working with Latino ELL students.

Approximately 10% of our AY 2015-16 completing candidates took advantage of the study abroad experiences that Penn State offers in 16 different countries during one semester of their student career. Also, each year approximately 10 to 12 candidates pursue coursework toward satisfying requirements for ESL certification by attending a month-long summer immersion experience in Ecuador. Five programs, representing the largest numbers of candidates in the EPP, provide student teaching opportunities in diverse settings that have large numbers of students from underrepresented populations. Candidates in the PK-4, 4-8, and 7-12 programs may choose a student teaching placement at the Pierre Indian Learning Center in Pierre, SD, or may choose to student teach abroad; in inner city schools in the Greater Pittsburgh, Altoona, and Philadelphia areas; or in Sweden—all in an effort to increase candidates' opportunities to work with educators and students from ethnically diverse backgrounds. The Mathematics program has an established partnership with urban schools in Pittsburgh focusing on preparing math teachers in technology-enhanced classrooms. The PK-4 program has a partnership with elementary schools in Philadelphia Area School District that provides a diverse student teaching experiences for PK-4 teacher candidates and also is the setting for an early-stage virtual tutoring experience. Special Education candidates' first field experience is in a rural setting, the mid-level experience is in an inclusive setting in a suburban environment, and the student teaching center is in an urban setting. The AAG program provides geographically dispersed field and student teaching experiences to prepare graduates for settings across Pennsylvania. Agriculture Education schedules annual national and international trips touring agricultural education programs to provide candidates with additional interaction with ethnically diverse faculty. The (partner districts) chart demonstrates some of the diversity of placements available to our candidates during their program required clinical experiences. This chart excludes our WF ED candidates' placements as WF ED candidates complete their field experiences as employees of individual school districts.

The EPP strives to work collaboratively with partner schools throughout all of the students' field experiences. Compiling this report helped the EPP review our programs and structures and encouraged us to revise and reflect upon our assessments, communication strategies, and tracking to data in order to provide enhanced opportunities for our students.

The Evidence Table for Standard Two complete with components and documents referenced in parentheses above can be found at

  Freeman, G. G. (2010). Strategies for Successful Early Field Experiences in a Teacher Education Program. Srate Journal, 19(1), 15-21.