6a. Unit leadership and authority
1. How does the unit manage or coordinate the planning, delivery, and operation of all programs at the institution for the preparation of educators?
Following a university-wide restructuring in 2006, the Millikin University academic administration framework structure consists of four colleges led by deans, all reporting to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. At that time, the School of Education (SoE) was folded into the College of Professional Studies (CPS) along with the department of Exercise Science and Sport, the department of Professional Comprehensive Adult Education (PACE), and the School of Nursing. Within the CPS, these four chairs/directors report to the Dean of the college.
Together with the Dean and other CPS chairs/directors, the director of the SoE sets annual goals, reviews the university bulletin for changes, and ensures that SoE policies and student guidelines are kept up to date. CPS chairs/directors also coordinate schedules of classes to assure availability across schools, and look at accreditation processes. Within the CPS, the chairs/directors coordinate on-campus criminal background checks, maintain and coordinate certification processes, clinical site contracts and professional standards.
The SoE is led by a director who chairs and coordinates the activities of the Committee on Teacher Education Programs (CTEP), serves as Millikin’s certification officer, and as the Unit head. The Director of the School of Education has authority regarding the elements of each of the six NCATE standards, provides leadership to all teacher education programs, and upholds educational standards across multiple divisions related to certification preparation.
2. What are the unit’s recruiting and admissions policies? How does the unit ensure that they are clearly and consistently described in publications and catalogues?
The SOE admissions policies are reviewed annually and publicized in the Millikin University bulletin. Changes, such as those involving fee structures, must be approved by the dean and advanced to the president’s cabinet in early fall to ensure inclusion in the bulletin for the next academic year. Changes in admission policies or curricula must also be approved by CTEP, the CPS, and the University Council on Curriculum prior to implementation of changes. When approvals are obtained, the Director of the SoE ensures that all publications, including the website, recruitment materials, and the university bulletin, are updated to reflect the approved changes.
3. How does the unit ensure that its academic calendars, catalogues, publications, grading policies, and advertising are accurate and current?
Marketing for School of Education programs is coordinated and funded through two departments; The Marketing and Media Relations central office promotes all university undergraduate and graduate programs, while the PACE coordinator of Marketing and Recruitment promotes all PACE programs. The director of the SOE consults with both marketing offices to ensure that academic catalogs, publications, and advertising efforts are consistent for all SoE programs. The SoE provides input to the Marketing departments when printed recruitment materials are reviewed and revised. The SoE also continually revises its website with the director regularly reviewing the site to ensure accuracy and coherence with other printed materials associated with the SoE.
4. How does the unit ensure that candidates have access to student services such as advising and counseling?
The unit ensures that candidates have access to a faculty advisor within their chosen education program. The administrative assistant in the SOE assigns each candidate a faculty advisor as soon as the candidate declares the education major. Candidates meet with their faculty advisor in person at least once per semester.
Candidates also have access to student services through campus-wide offices such as the Office of Student Success, the Office of Student Development, the Writing Center, and the Health and Counseling Services. New for the 09-10 school year, is the Math Center, which provides tutoring in a comfortable, low-stress environment. Faculty advisors communicate with these offices and their candidates to make sure that services are being delivered satisfactorily. Faculty advisors may also promote a particular student service such as the Writing Center, if an academic alert or academic deficiency has been noted by a professor who may be working with a teacher candidate.
5. What members of the professional community participate in program design, implementation, and evaluation? In what ways do they participate?
The Millikin University SOE faculty have a strong tradition of collaboration with cooperating K-12 schools regionally and in the Chicago area, as well as collaboration with international universities. Through a grant from the Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI), Millikin University SOE faculty developed curricular revisions that provide sophomore and junior block coursework to integrate classroom activities with faculty- supervised immersion classroom experiences in the Decatur Public Schools, District 61. Millikin University also maintains placement contracts for student teachers in 18 districts, including Decatur. Since the establishment of the Champaign and Springfield remote site elementary and early childhood education programs delivered in the PACE format (courses in an accelerated 5 week format), expansion to districts within a 50 mile radius of Decatur has taken place. Millikin University also provides student teaching opportunities in the Chicago area through collaboration with the Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture and has affiliation agreements for student teaching opportunities in the Dominican Republic, Taichung, Taiwan and Changchun, China. These global experiences are coordinated by the SOE Director, who ensures that students at these sites receive appropriate educational oversight for the completion of the student teaching experience.
The SOE Field Placement Coordinator solicits student teacher placements and secures school factulty. The coordination of all teacher candidate activities during the student teaching semester is managed by the Field Placement Coordinator. Extensive feedback from school faculty and clinical faculty is gathered during and at the conclusion of student teaching experiences by the Field Placement Coordinator. Annually, a dinner meeting is hosted for the supervising teachers during which feedback on student teaching experiences, effective processes, and processes needing revision is obtained. For example, during the May 2008 meeting, concerns regarding management of difficult classroom experiences involving threats by students were voiced by two supervising teachers. Examination of best practices with possible revision of policies is underway to resolve any discrepancies that may exist.
The Community Advisory Committee meets annually to provide feedback and direction to the SOE leadership. The Community Advisory Committee is made up of principals and placement coordinators of school districts heavily used by Millikin’s SOE teacher candidates, community college representatives, and other social agencies involved in our programs. Since the development of the early childhood major, early childhood care providers and directors involved in provision of ECE experiences have been added to the community advisory group. In addition, the SOE has offered teacher development programs and works collaboratively throughout the region to provide leadership and solicit feedback on programs that enhance the experiences of students.
6. How does the unit facilitate collaboration with other academic units involved in the preparation of professional educators?
The Committee on Teacher Education Programs (CTEP) is a strong governing committee with representatives from each of the eleven teacher education programs, crossing three of the university’s colleges. Since CTEP serves students across the university, membership on this committee is evaluated annually to assure representation across all programs. The dean of the CPS is also a member of CTEP. CTEP approves all procedures associated with the teacher education programs offered at Millikin University. Planning, operational issues, and curricular revisions affecting teacher education are vetted through CTEP. Changes in program design, implementation, and evaluation must also be approved by CTEP. In matters of curriculum, approvals must then proceed through the CPS and the full university curriculum committee prior to implementation. Changes affecting university publications (such as grade point average requirements) are also implemented in CTEP. CTEP provides oversight for (a) analysis of assessment data including those required for checkpoints within the candidates’ progression; (b) standards and policies regarding candidate application and performance while enrolled in the major; and (c) advising issues related to curricula and dispositions.
The Committee on Teacher Education Programs (CTEP) manages most program operations. Checkpoint decisions for progression of teacher candidates across all programs, including those outside the CPS, are reviewed and decided by the CTEP. Changes in teacher candidate handbook guidelines are also vetted through this committee. The CTEP meets monthly to deliberate over accreditation processes, specifically the program reports and the unit’s assessment data. They work with the university’s registrar to assure that degree audits are accurate and that all students, regardless of campus location, are being treated equally.
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