Executive Summary

Programs across the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences (CEBS), along with units in other colleges across the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), devote significant resources and effort to monitoring the performance and quality of students and graduates. The programs use multiple methods, including surveys of students, graduates, and employers, external reviews, focus groups and the examination of data, such as pass rates on tests, college GPA, and evaluation on various performance rubrics. Data collected are used to inform program quality.

This section of the CEBS website, titled “University of Northern Colorado Teacher Quality” (UNCTQ), details the processes and outcomes of our focus on teacher quality. Here you will find information about the data we collect on our teacher candidates and graduates. Education programs at UNC monitor student performance throughout the program of study.

For example, as we monitor the academic progress of students in teacher preparation programs we find that their average GPA is higher than that of non-teacher candidates in the same content classes. Teacher candidates’ overall GPA averages in the “B” range, primarily because they must maintain minimum grades in content classes. And all teacher candidates must pass the content-focused licensure test prior to student teaching.

Surveys of our graduates generally indicate our students believe they are well prepared to begin work as teachers. For example, in a recent state-wide survey conducted by researchers at the University of Denver, UNC students agreed that their program had prepared them well for most aspects of their job as teachers. On a four-point scale they rated at three or higher many aspects of their program preparation including a range of aspects of classroom management; language, literacy, and reading instruction (including teaching phonics); ability to teach mathematics; ability to use a range of assessments to improve their teaching and learning; and knowledge of content. No item was rated below a two. In their comments they endorsed the student teaching experience and made recommendations to lengthen and strengthen that experience.

Importantly, we follow up with those who work with and employ our students and graduates, including for example teachers, principals and human resource personnel, to gain an external perspective about quality. Every year we survey human resource personnel from school districts at the UNC Teacher Employment Days. This permits us to gather real time information about the knowledge and potential of our teacher candidates from personnel professionals who have just interviewed applicants from across the region. Interviewers rated applicants from UNC as “Meets Expectations” or higher on all survey questions over a multi-year period. Indeed, applicants from UNC were rated as “Above Expectations” by school personnel professionals on the majority of the survey questions.

These surveys, along with other survey data, lead us to believe that our programs do a good job of preparing beginning teachers. The survey data can be found off of the Data link on the Teacher Quality pages.

External agencies provide information on the quality of our programs and graduates. All teacher preparation programs at the University of Northern Colorado are fully accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. After a review of program materials (syllabi, handbooks, rubrics, and assessments) and a multiday visit to campus during which a team of external examiners interviewed faculty, students, and school personnel, NCATE found no areas of weakness and recommend approval of education programs.

The Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Higher Education also review and authorize the educator preparation programs. As with NCATE these state agencies have also endorsed UNC’s educator programs.

Other national bodies accredit educator programs in CEBS. For example, the American Psychological Association has accredited School Psychology programs and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs accredited Counselor Education and Supervision programs.

U.S. News and World Report rated UNC’s online education programs as ninth best in the country in 2012/2013. This rating is available online. UNC programs were also ranked number one by U.S. News and World Report for Student Engagement and Accreditation.

The National Council on Teacher Quality regularly comments on teacher preparation programs. Their most recent report is titled State Teacher Policy. Various blogs have been written about the reviews emanating from this group, including the CEBS education dean.

Faculty members incorporate their research into their instruction. In 2012 faculty affiliated with the teacher preparation programs published 58 research papers, 12 book chapters, and 7 books. The topics ranged widely and included: the home-school relationship, the provision of special education services, student motivation, principal preparedness, the use of e-text books, and childhood counseling and trauma.

Annually, faculty members across the teacher preparation programs receive external funding to support their programs and their scholarship. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2013 faculty in CEBS received six awards totaling $1,142,114, with the majority of these awards focusing on the preparation of educators. Other grants make funds available for the provision of professional development to teachers in the schools. For example, faculty in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences received funds to train enhance the teaching of mathematics and sciences to English Language Learners.

While less scientific, we also receive unsolicited feedback from students and teachers and the value of our work in teacher preparation is highlighted in the media. A facebook posting in December 2012 by one of our graduates typifies the reflections of our candidates:

My last day is tomorrow with the kids and I've already shed a few bittersweet tears with a couple students. Yet, I had two moms end my day on a sweet note. ♥ One mom came in right after school to talk and told me that her daughter is extremely upset that my last day is tomorrow and she was wondering if I was going to come back to see the kids again. So sweet. :) Then, two hours later at Texas Roadhouse, I had another mom come to my table and tell me that her son is going to miss me and was at home upset. She went on to tell me that I've been an inspiration to her son and that she hopes I come back to see the students because I've definitely made an impression on him. ♥ *I love my job and what I do - I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm so happy that I've picked such a rewarding career and I'm more thrilled than ever to be a part of such a great community who has embraced me with open arms.

The UNC Center for Urban Education was highlighted in the NBC Education Nation series. This UNCTQ website contains a sampling of these testimonials and media citations.

The pages on this UNCTQ website provide a range of data sources that we use to monitor and enhance program and graduate quality. The data about our programs, in conjunction with information from organizations such as the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education ensures our programs are current with changes and recommendations in the field. Faculty members and administrators regularly review these data in order to make informed changes to programs. We use course evaluation feedback to improve teaching and the surveys to direct larger changes. For example, a group of faculty from across the campus is developing significant recommendations to enhance the secondary teacher preparation programs. These recommendations include changes to the Liberal Arts Core for secondary teachers, placement in the school sooner and for a longer period of time, and updates to education coursework that incorporate the new teacher evaluation standards and that prepare teachers to work with the increasingly diverse student population.
The evidence on these pages demonstrates our commitment to the preparation of top-quality educators. We welcome feedback. Please email me at Eugene.sheehan@unco.edu if you would like to comments about our data or our programs.