Four Education Professors to Present at AACTE Conference

News Story: February 12, 2011

Four Sacred Heart professors from the Isabelle Farrington School of Education will be presenters on February 25-26 in San Diego at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

A Collaborative Plan between a University and School District
Professor Michael Giarratano, Dr. Lois Libby and Dr. Ann Clark will present “A Collaborative Plan between a University and a School District to Meet the Goals and Standards of a State Framework to Improve Teacher Quality.” Their premise is that colleges and universities can better prepare candidates to be teachers when they work collaboratively with towns and cities. Specifically, they will discuss the relationship between Sacred Heart University and the Town of Fairfield as they prepare future teachers to meet the standards set forth in “The Common Core of Teaching: Foundation Skills – A Vision for Teaching and Learning in Connecticut Public Schools.” This Common Core of Teaching (CCT) sets forth the knowledge, skills and qualities that Connecticut teachers need to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The 2010 CCT was significantly different from the previous one released in 1999, says Giarratano. “It is much more comprehensive and encompasses a deeper, richer approach to instruction,” he says. As a result, Sacred Heart had to respond quickly and make changes to its curriculum to ensure that students receive the appropriate training to give them the skills and competencies they will need to meet the new standards. Local school districts also needed to react by revising their evaluation process and professional development for new teachers. “The CCT mandate encompasses students’ activities from the day they begin their college education, through student teaching and their first two years of teaching. That’s because after two years of teaching, new teachers in Connecticut must pass the five modules of the Teacher Educator & Mentoring Program,” Giarratano points out.

The trio’s presentation details how Sacred Heart’s teacher preparation program and the Fairfield school district worked collaboratively to realign curriculum to meet these standards and to prepare candidates for the next tier of certification. At Sacred Heart, that meant changing curriculum – especially that of its culminating course, which prepares students for the TEAM evaluation. The project also involves surveying first-year teachers in Fairfield to find out how prepared they were for the TEAM modules. That survey will allow both Sacred Heart and Fairfield to make changes to their programs to better prepare students for CCT certification.

Making NCATE Matter: Teacher Educators’ Compliance with Mandated Standards
In his presentation, “Making NCATE Matter,” Dr. Edward Hendricks explains how the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) can make its accreditation program more meaningful. He reports the results of a study he conducted focusing on the perceptions of teacher educators charged with implementing the NCATE standards within their teacher preparation programs. These standards have been mandated within teacher preparation programs in Connecticut, which means that teachers, school and district administrators and literacy specialists completing Sacred Heart’s educator preparation programs not only have to meet the CCT requirements, but the national NCATE standards as well.

Hendricks suggests that NCATE launch a campaign geared toward school superintendents and principals – and even parents – to foster an understanding of the importance of hiring teachers from NCATE-accredited teacher preparation programs.

“There is no incentive for schools of education to voluntarily seek NCATE accreditation, because school districts and parents aren’t demanding teachers from accredited schools. NCATE could change that with an educational campaign about the value of the standards and measures used to achieve accreditation,” Hendricks says.

He notes that SHU’s Isabelle Farrington School of Education is in the process of seeking accreditation and recently hosted NCATE for an on-site evaluation. While the final report will not be available until April, indications are that the school will receive a favorable report and will be accredited.