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UW Education Programs Receive Highest Possible Ratings

August 27, 2015
young girl working at table
Sabriyah Seegmiller and other students in Joan James’ fourth-grade class at the University of Wyoming Lab School participate in a "We Are Wyoming" event, in which the students made a map of the state featuring famous landmarks and state symbols. Each student created an individual square piece, and then all parts were glued together to create a map of the state. (UW Photo)

Two University of Wyoming College of Education academic programs received the highest possible rating during a comprehensive set of reviews conducted in preparation for its 2016 reaccreditation process.

Both the undergraduate English education program and the Master of Arts in special education degree received “National Recognition” designations from their respective Specialized Professional Associations (SPA) reviews.

“Right out of the gate, the evidence showed that the faculty in those programs are collecting and analyzing assessment data related to the standards, to show that they are producing high-quality teachers for the state of Wyoming and the region,” Leslie Rush, associate dean for undergraduate education, says of the two programs receiving the highest marks.

Fifteen UW education academic programs leading to licensure or endorsement participated in the review process. Each program submitted a comprehensive report, written by faculty and administrators, describing and documenting student accomplishments related to curriculum standards. 

Other programs received “National Recognition with Conditions” designations from SPA reviewers, “which means there are a few other things that you need to revise, and then resubmit your report,” Rush says. These are solid programs that require minor adjustments or different data formats, and updated reporting to review teams.

Programs receiving this designation were elementary education; secondary mathematics education; secondary modern languages education; secondary social studies education; English as a second language endorsement; and K-12 physical education.

Each SPA body defines review criteria based on standards set by their respective governing organizations (for example, the National Council of Teachers of English and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics). The Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board examines programs without a relevant SPA body.

While different SPAs require different specific elements, they generally have three basic components: a description providing context for the programs and their graduates (such as program aims, state culture/needs and hiring environments for graduates); six to eight specific assessments documenting standards-based student achievement; and a description of how the program uses assessment data to improve student performance and program quality.

Assessment evidence required in the reviews generally fall into four categories: content, planning, teaching and impact on student learning. Examples of the types of assessment that evidence programs may be required to provide include: results of the PRAXIS II (content knowledge) test; GPA data in required courses, aligned to standards; assessment data from a course assignment; student teaching rubric; and edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment) data.

Outcomes from the reviews feed portions of the college’s reaccreditation through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The NCATE accreditation process, which includes a site visit in March 2016, evaluates the College of Education as a broader academic unit.

“All the programs that lead to educator licensure fall under the umbrella of NCATE accreditation,” Rush says.

UW is an NCATE “legacy” program, which means that college programs and processes will be assessed using standards set up or endorsed by that agency. Once the UW College of Education receives reaccreditation, it will begin working toward adopting the standards established by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which recently succeeded NCATE as the official accrediting body of teacher education programs. 

“CAEP standards use different ways to measure candidate learning,” Rush says. “We will be working, in the future, on revising our assessments and developing new ones to measure candidate learning, according to these new standards.”


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Chad Baldwin

Institutional Communications

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Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

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