How our program evaluates teacher candidates on IECE standards

After posting my last blog entry, Ken O’Connor asked me a great question. He wondered why I was giving scores on assignments instead of individual standards. So, although I’m sure there is still plenty of room for improvement, here is the context. Maybe there are some applications preK-12.

I teach in the interdisciplinary early childhood education program (IECE) at University of Kentucky. We prepare teachers for early childhood teaching of children with and without disabilities. Our state’s professional standards board requires that every teacher candidate demonstrate mastery of nine IECE standards. These standards are addressed in the courses students take during their junior and senior years.

The grading system/scale I showed in the last blog entry is used in a working with families course and addresses one of the eight IECE standards: “IECE Standard 8: The IECE educator supports families through family-centered services that promote independence and self-determination.“ Each of the assignments in the class (routines-based interview of a family, eco-map with a family, and case stories reflections) addresses this standard. Students complete multiple tasks to show they have mastered IECE Standard 8. For the behaviorists out there--they show they can generalize the skills included in the “supporting families standard” to multiple contexts.

There are subparts to each standard, and perhaps I should revise my scoring system to provide a score for each subpart on each assignment. But I’m not really sure that’s needed. For now, I score based on a rubric for each assignment relative to Standard 8 and provide specific feedback on how to improve each project. The feedback addresses the subparts.

Now what we do with this is where it gets exciting! Three times during students’ junior and senior years, they turn in portfolios for review by the full program faculty. Portfolios include the major projects from each of their IECE courses, organized around standards. As a program faculty, we meet to review and discuss each student’s progress toward the 9 IECE standards. We review the evidence, discuss our experiences with each student relative to the standards, and we come to consensus on a score (from 1-4) on each standard for each candidate. This takes us a full day twice per year.

In order for us to recommend a student for teacher certification, the candidate must demonstrate mastery on all eight standards. If the evidence has been inconsistent, we provide feedback and require revisions to the portfolio to ensure there are no gaps. The student usually works with one faculty member to make the revisions, based on which revisions are needed. Once we agree that a candidate has demonstrated mastery on all 8 standards, we recommend certification.

There are many positives that come from the dialogue of this process. Mostly, we feel that it helps us to see a comprehensive picture of each candidate so we can guide their growth to a solid mastery. But when we see difficulty with the same standard or task (like IEP writing or lesson planning, for example) across many students, it informs changes in our program. In this way, we are engaging in continuous improvement of our curriculum.

I’d love to hear your feedback and ideas of how this might apply to preK-12!

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