E. 2. Growth. Standard 4: Diversity

E.2.a. Target Level

The Unit is moving to Target level on Standard 4.

Continuous Improvement Initiative: Moving to Target Level on Standard Four - Diversity

The Unit and Diversity Committee began a review of diversity in the curriculum and experiences at the suggestion of the 2008 state on-site review team following the reauthorization of all the education licensure programs. There are no standards related to diversity at the state level.  The word “diversity” is not used in the Performance-Based Standards for Colorado Teachers or the Statutory Performance Measures used to evaluate teacher preparation programs in the Colorado.  However, we used the suggestion as an opportunity to study our curriculum.  Faculty and the Diversity and Equity Committee discussions guided two actions: 1) developing a curriculum map for diversity concepts integrated into coursework and 2) developing course matrices to detail where, when, and who was responsible for teaching required diversity concepts. When the Unit decided to accept NCATE’S invitation to become a Pilot Institution in the new continuous improvement process, we decided to use our work in diversity to develop a Continuous Improvement Initiative to continue our efforts in moving to the “target” level on Standard Four: Diversity.

The Unit has a very strong existing organizational and leadership structure to support the Initiative.  The College of Education and Behavioral Sciences established a Diversity and Equity Committee in 2005, with faculty and student representation from across the college. The Diversity Committee promotes a broad definition of diversity, equity, and social justice. The committee meets monthly to support our university campus and the communities we serve. The committee has arranged for various presentations, colloquia, and panel discussions that have addressed English language learners, Native American learners, Hispanic learners, learners identified with disabilities/exceptionalities, and learners reflecting economic disadvantage.

Demonstrating the President’s commitment to diversity, a new position for Special Assistant to the President for Diversity was implemented in January 2008. A Diversity Advisory Council comprised of regional and national experts was formed to advise the campus community on issues related to diversity; two members of the unit Diversity Committee serve on the Council. During the last year, the Council developed a strategic university-wide diversity plan and provided monthly professional development webinars, seminars, lectures and celebrations open to the entire university and surrounding communities. We believe the endeavors of both these groups working together will provide a more campus-wide focus to issues of diversity and equity.

The Continuous Improvement Initiative will be guided by the following seven goals:

  1. Develop and implement a comprehensive unit-wide Diversity and Equity Framework that provides a well-developed knowledge base and, skills, and dispositions for diversity.
  2. Design and implement fair, accurate, and unbiased assessments to evaluate faculty, candidates, staff, and administrators’ ability to understand and implement the Diversity and Equity Framework and to monitor continuous program quality.
  3. Create and maintain a Diversity and Equity website with current research and pedagogical resources for faculty.
  4. Develop and implement a faculty professional development plan that will ensure that all faculty members understand the concepts addressed in the framework, and can incorporate the principles of the framework in their pedagogy and curriculum.
  5. Review and revise unit-wide curriculum and experiences so candidates develop complex understandings and skills for improving their practice.
  6. Continue work to increase the recruitment and retention of diverse teacher candidates and faculty.
  7. Develop and implement volunteer and service learning opportunities that engage faculty and candidates in advocacy projects for social change.

Goal 1: Develop and implement a comprehensive unit-wide Diversity and Equity Framework

The Diversity Committee developed the unit-wide Diversity and Equity Framework during the 2008-2009 academic year. This framework is designed to increase diversity awareness and help us work towards greater equity and social justice in our university campus and the communities we serve. The framework is designed for faculty, staff, students, and administrators and includes five broad goals: Recognition of Human Diversity, Vigilance about Personal Biases, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Curriculum, Inclusiveness, and Advocacy. Each goal is defined by clear behavioral actions to be taken to accomplish the intended goals. The Framework was reviewed by faculty during fall 2009 and was adopted by the CEBS Leadership Council in spring 2010. The Framework was also introduced to the NCATE Leadership Team and the Professional Education Council (PEC) in spring 2010. During fall 2010 faculty across the unit will be engaged in the Framework adoption and implementation. This process will be facilitated by the PEC, the governing body of the Teacher Education Faculty. After all constituents have participated in the adoption process, the NCATE Leadership Team will revise the Conceptual Framework as appropriate to reflect the goals of the new Framework.

GOAL 2: Design and implement fair, accurate, and unbiased assessments to evaluate faculty, candidates, staff, and administrators

The Diversity and Equity Committee recognizes that ongoing assessment and evaluation of the Continuous Improvement Initiative is essential. In preparation for initially sharing the Framework, the Committee prepared a faculty survey to accompany the Framework in hopes of ascertaining faculty members’ perceptions of how knowledgeable they were on the five diversity goals. Because of objections raised by a few college faculty outside of the education preparation programs that the survey could be interpreted as too evaluative, the faculty survey was not adopted. The committee has decided to restructure the process, conducting an intake survey of existing practices in the College that reflect the Diversity and Equity Framework, then conducting focus group interviews, and based on the results of the interviews, will develop a new faculty and candidate survey.

A Diversity and Equity Framework and Curriculum Scan Survey was conducted during spring 2010 to determine forty-five initial and advanced program coordinators’ determination of how well four of the main goals of the new Framework were addressed in their programs through specific coursework and field experience. An analysis of the average means from the scan showed that the faculty indicated their programs “adequately” addressed four of the Framework goals. “Inclusiveness” (4.47) and “Culturally responsive pedagogy and curriculum” (4.38) were rated slightly higher than “vigilance about personal biases” (4.07) and “advocacy” (4.20). The Diversity & Equity Committee intends to develop and conduct more in-depth faculty and student surveys based on the Framework over the next year that will be used to determine more specific areas of need for professional and curricular development.

The Diversity & Equity Committee also reviewed the Faculty Course Evaluation Form and made recommendation for adding questions that would allow candidates to directly evaluate how well the faculty member addressed diversity in the course. In addition to the existing question “The instructor demonstrated respect for multiple points of view,” the Leadership Council approved adding the following question to the new survey to be implemented spring 2010, “The instructor created a classroom environment that was inclusive and respectful of diversity.” Course evaluations are conducted every semester in all on-campus, off-campus, and distance learning courses and results are returned to faculty members and their directors.

GOAL 3: Create and maintain a Diversity and Equity website with current research and pedagogical resources for faculty and candidates

The Committee has started collecting and organizing an annotated bibliography of current research articles and recommended readings, a university/community-wide panel of diversity experts’ list, and faculty teaching resources based on the Framework goals. The Committee has undertaken two initial resource development activities in order to provide faculty with model lessons and strategies based on research-informed practices. First, the faculty in the early childhood education program created the Miguel Project curriculum last year in their endeavors to create a program-wide curriculum map. The Miguel Project is based on the pedagogy of case study methodology and presents profiles of six children to help candidates learn to problem solve and to develop differentiated instruction for the individual children based on their academic and social-emotional strengths, needs, and backgrounds. Secondly, the Diversity and Equity Committee is in the process of posting on the College Diversity & Equity webpage a collection of instructional strategies for faculty that are aligned with the five Framework goals. A template for the presentation of strategies has been developed and the Committee intends to have the resource available for faculty development by summer 2010.

GOAL 4: Develop and implement a faculty professional development plan that will assure all faculty and candidates provide culturally responsive pedagogy

The assessments of faculty and students will inform the development of a comprehensive professional development plan for the faculty and candidates. The Unit head and Provost have dedicated $25,000.00 over the next five years to assist with creating and implementing a professional learning community (PLC) format. This inquiry-based approach will be led by the Diversity and Equity Committee during regularly scheduled faculty meetings in order to increase overall faculty participation. Leaders will assist faculty in developing understandings and strategies for meeting the goals of the Diversity and Equity Framework, and will conduct follow-up peer-observation/coaching of actual practice in university classrooms. The committee intends to build on the work of Dr. Vivian Elliot from the National Coalition for Equity and Education who was contracted to engage selected faculty leaders in a two year project in 2006-2008 of in-depth professional development to enhance culturally responsive education systems and operationalize college-wide goals for diversity.

GOAL 5: Review and revise unit-wide curriculum and experiences so candidates develop complex understandings and skills for improving their practice

An integral part of the professional development plan will involve faculty in the review of curriculum and experiences and the development of a carefully sequenced diversity curriculum map based on the Diversity and Equity Framework for appropriate courses in each program. The curriculum maps will assure all concepts are taught and redundancy will be avoided. It is intended the individual program diversity maps will be shared with candidates so they will develop an understanding of the Framework and will be able to monitor their own learning in diversity as they progress through their program. The Diversity Curriculum Matrices already developed will provide a springboard for this review and revision process. In addition, candidate assessment will be a focal point in the evaluation of curriculum and experiences. Faculty will study current assessments and candidate assessment data in order to make informed decisions about possible changes and additions to the assessment system.

GOAL 6:  Continue work to increase the recruitment and retention of diverse teacher candidates and faculty.

The Unit has been successful in recruiting and retaining diverse undergraduate candidates through the Cumbres Program and the Center for Urban Education in metro-Denver.  In fact candidate demographic data document an increase in the number of Hispanic teacher graduates over the last four years.  An increase in the Native American graduate candidates was accomplished by the Native American Innovative Leadership (NAIL) project supported with a grant from the Office of Indian Education and is increasing the percentage of Native American teacher graduates.  The co-director of Cumbres and the director of NAIL are members of the Committee.  The Committee and Unit will join with the Office of Enrollment Management and Student Access to recruit potential teachers when all local middle school students are brought to campus for a one-day visit.  The number of local middle school students spending a day on campus increased from 350 to 1500 students in the last year.  In addition, the university has a Preview Day for local high school students and for students in the Denver Public Schools; this provides the unit with several opportunities to recruit these students who are from highly diverse school settings into teacher preparation.

The efforts to increase and maintain faculty diversity will be continued by adhering to hiring policy requirements that include: position descriptions should be written so as to attract a large and diverse applicant pool; vacancies will be advertised widely—minimally The Chronicle of Higher Education and at least one minority publication; units will be encouraged to actively recruit minority applicants by directly contacting other universities; and potential finalists will be forwarded to Directors and Deans unranked with a list of strengths and weaknesses.

GOAL 7: Develop and implement volunteer and service learning opportunities that engage faculty and candidates in advocacy projects for social change

The Diversity and Equity Committee will provide leadership in developing more opportunities in the Unit for faculty and candidates to be involved in advocacy activities to promote social change. Learning about and implementing more service learning opportunities in our coursework is a realistic way to provide candidates with more opportunities for advocacy. In addition, the School of Teacher Education (STE) has solid beginnings in this area with the 2008 implementation of the Bear Hug Project. Faculty in the School of Teacher Education initiated the Bear Hug Project which organizes volunteer opportunities for teacher candidates and assigns a faculty supporter to help lead each activity. The purpose of the volunteer projects is to provide opportunities for candidates to grow professionally as teachers and as community change agents. Some of the current projects involve intensive reading tutoring, working in a women’s shelter, collecting food for the local district’s homeless project, and mentoring in local youth organizations. Student and faculty leaders of the Bear Hug Project are currently forming a university charter in order to provide organizational structure as it continues to grow.

Recently faculty leaders of the Bear Hug Project have started focusing on the broad area of poverty in our community and on childhood hunger in particular. According to Kids Count 2008, Colorado has the fastest growing rate of childhood poverty with an increase of 84%. During the 2009 winter holiday season candidates joined faculty in collecting food and over 1,000 gifts that were provided for 200 homeless children and their families in the local school district. Currently faculty are developing an initiative that partners the university, local school district, and community to end child hunger. Surplus food from local school cafeterias will be packaged and transported to distribution sites around the area and packaged for students to take home in the evening. Not only will this project help alleviate some hunger in our community, but it will provide faculty and candidates with rich opportunities to work with diverse students in the community and P-12 school settings.

Successful grant writing and fund raising will be critical to the endeavors to create additional advocacy projects for the Unit. The Diversity and Equity Committee is already involved in developing a grant proposal with the faculty members in the Center for Civic Engagement housed in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The proposal will be submitted to the Corporation for Service Learning in spring 2011.

Faculty in the School of Teacher Education and the NCATE Leadership Team will join the Diversity and Equity Committee in developing strategies for grant writing and fund raising to facilitate service learning and volunteer advocacy actions. The university-wide Diversity Council will also be called on to assist with this initiative so that the project can be accomplished on a scale that offers as much systematic and efficient change as possible. The Continuous Improvement Initiative outlined above will allow the Unit to advance its work in diversity in our classrooms, campus, and community.

Initiative Timeline

Year One – Developing Framework and assessing

  • Adopt Framework – Diversity Committee, CEBS, PEC, TEF
  • Revise Conceptual Framework to align with the Diversity and Equity Framework
  • Implement and analyze a Diversity Scan Survey

Year Two – Planning

  • Assessment of Faculty Knowledge of Framework by intake survey of existing practices and focus group interviews – conduct pre-post student survey of knowledge of Framework
  • Determine Professional Development Needs – Plan for professional development that includes opportunities for faculty to apply new learning in university classrooms and be involved in peer-coaching and includes:
    • Curriculum Review based on Framework
    • Review of Quality of Field Experience based on Framework
  • Plan for continued Recruitment of Diverse candidates and faculty
  • Plan for increased Grant Writing to support special advocacy projects as determined by committee
  • Integrate plans with University-wide Diversity Committee

Years Three to Five – Implementation and Evaluation

  • Revise curriculum
  • Develop Quality Field Experiences for initial and advanced programs
  • Continued Faculty Professional Development
  • Continue Recruitment plans and goals
  • Evaluation of Projects and Goals