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The Education Innovator #44
Volume II
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The Education Innovator
 November 22, 2004 • Number 44
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Feature
Northeastern California Partnership for Special Education Alternative Certification Program
What's New
Secretary Paige announces his resignation; President Bush nominates Margaret Spellings to be new U.S. Secretary of Education; the final special education reform bill that reauthorizes IDEA is passed; Deputy Secretary Hickok releases Evaluation of the Public Charter Schools Program; Secretary Paige addresses the National Alliance of Black School Educators; OII releases Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification; Family Policy Compliance Office publishes response to a letter about the release of anonymous student level records to researchers; Advanced Placement Test Fee and Incentive grant competitions are open; Seeds of Change examines charter schooling in New York City; Fast Break in Indianapolis looks at the successes and challenges of charter schools; America's Choice School Reform Design becomes a for-profit subsidiary of the National Center on Education and the Economy; and National Endowment for the Humanities offers professional development for K-12 teachers.
Innovations in the News
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Eugene Hickok and officials from The Reinvestment Fund, Inc. toured the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences charter school in Philadelphia, plus information on education reform, teacher quality, and technology.

Northeastern California Partnership for Special Education Accelerates Training for Quality Teachers
The special education teachers of California's Chico School District have a first-person understanding of what it means to be a hardworking student - particularly those who have gone through the alternative route to certification offered by the Northeastern California Partnership for Special Education. This program requires aspiring special education teachers to complete a rigorous application to be accepted into the program, and then to participate in a challenging, multi-faceted regimen in order to become certified.

The California State University at Chico (CSUC) launched this program in 1989, in partnership with 57 local education agencies, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and the federal government. The program was created in order to bring qualified teachers to the understaffed special education programs of school districts in Northern California's rural Chico area.

The program has attracted teachers who bring multiple perspectives to their schools. Many candidates are career-changers, and some are parents of students who receive special education. The program targets African American and Hispanic candidates, who are underrepresented nationally among special education teachers.

The program's leaders emphasize its rigor. To apply, candidates must come into the program with a bachelor's degree and a GPA of at least 2.67, demonstration of subject-matter competency, and successful completion of the California Basic Education Skills test.

Candidates then pass through an extensive interview process guided by the "Star" teacher selection system—developed by the Haberman Educational Foundation (see Innovator # 7), which has a 95 percent predictive rate over its 35-year history. This serves to inform both the instructors about the abilities of their candidates and also the candidates about the rigor of the program.

Once candidates are selected, they begin to fulfill the requirements of their "Individualized Induction Program" (IIP), which is crafted to chart their progress and is anchored in standards: the California standards for the teaching profession, the education specialist standards for earning the credential, and the academic content standards for students. A candidate must meet all of these standards by the end of training.

The program's final evaluation of a candidate's readiness to teach special education rests on the following accomplishments:

  • 3.0 or higher GPA in all program courses;
  • Artifacts, including a journal demonstrating classroom experience;
  • Observation feedback from mentors, documenting growth and skills in teaching;
  • Results from twice-yearly individual progress conferences between the candidate and a university faculty member; and
  • Successful evaluation of competencies determined by the supervisor, the employer, and related faculty
At the end of the program, each candidate submits a portfolio and gives an oral presentation at a peer-reviewed session.

Of course, the program's administrators and the school district both have a vested interest in ensuring the success of their candidates. For this reason, they provide an individualized support network that includes supervision and mentoring. Program participants begin teaching full time while undertaking the highly structured, organized, sequential learning experience. It takes approximately two years to complete the program, including either summer school on the CSUC campus or on-line courses taken through real-time broadcasting on the Internet.

The curriculum is ultimately geared to pupil outcomes, and under the Pupil Assessment Project, for example, candidates focus on the learning of four or five of their most challenging students and how to further their achievement. The emphasis is on using ongoing assessment to support pupil growth.

Teaching strategies form the core of the program. "We are a fifth-year program, meaning that candidates come in with subject matter content, so the focus is on pedagogy," says the program director. "However, it's very content rich. And the fact is, both content and pedagogy are special education specific."

The program has helped to eliminate the emergency credentialing of special education teachers. Since 1990, the program has graduated 331 fully credentialed teachers, 91 percent of whom teach in the region's schools. As a result, 206,875 special education pupils have gained credentialed teachers.

These new teachers also bring their learning experience to the larger environment of the schools in which they teach. They introduce new educational practices to veteran general education teachers through the university link to cutting edge research, and candidates are often asked to model practice, consult with other teachers, or present at board meetings.

The success of the program depends on the large scale cooperation of all stakeholders: the state, the school district, the university system, school faculty, and the candidates who take part in it. The alternative route program has required extensive infrastructure building and commitment. It received the 2004 American Council on Rural Special Education (ACRES) award for "Exemplary Preservice and Inservice Teacher Preparation." This program is featured in the latest OII Innovations in Education book, Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification.

Resources: Note: The featured program is an example of one alternative route to teacher certification. The program is innovative, but does not necessarily have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. The success of the program may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.

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What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige has announced his resignation after successfully launching No Child Left Behind and helping to deepen a culture of accountability in American education. President Bush declared that the Secretary "...inspired his department and implemented the most significant federal education reform in a generation." (Nov. 15)

President George W. Bush has nominated Margaret Spellings as the new U.S. Secretary of Education. She has served as Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy throughout the President's first term. (Nov. 17)

The final special education reform bill that reauthorizes the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been passed by both the House and the Senate. This bill is aligned with No Child Left Behind and creates more opportunities for parental involvement and parental choice in special education. Secretary Paige issued a statement after the House-Senate Conference Agreement on IDEA reauthorization. (Nov. 17 and 19)

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Eugene Hickok released the Evaluation of the Public Charter Schools Program (PCSP), a report from the Department's Policy and Program Studies Service. Data for the report is based on school years 1999-00, 2000-01, and 2001-02. Some highlights from the evaluation include: PCSP money is the most prevalent source of start-up funding for charter schools, and charter schools are more likely to serve minority and low-income students than traditional public schools. The Department's Institute of Education Sciences has also launched a rigorous examination of the effect of charter schools on student learning. (Nov. 22)

Secretary Paige addressed the Annual Conference of the National Alliance of Black School Educators saying, "Historians and other scholars will look back on the No Child Left Behind Act as a necessary, evolutionary step to secure and sustain the rights of all Americans." At the conference, OII's Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary Michael Petrilli conducted workshops on alternative routes to teacher certification and public school choice, and OII Policy Analyst, Stacy Kreppel, held a workshop on implementing supplemental educational services. (Nov. 18)

From OII

Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification, the latest book in the Innovations in Education book series, has been released. The book features guidelines from promising alternative route programs: recruit widely and select carefully; design a coherent, flexible program; provide support; and continuously reflect and improve. The book is available free as a single copy or in bulk from ED Pubs (order number EU 115P) (Nov. 19)

Reminders

The grant competitions for Advanced Placement Test Fee and Incentive Programs are now open. (Nov.11)

Charter Schools

Seeds of Change, download files PDF, (591K), a report from the Progressive Policy Institute, examines charter schooling in New York City and the future of charter initiatives there and in the state. (Sept. 2004)

Fast Break in Indianapolis, download files PDF (324K), by Bryan C. Hassel, looks at the successes and challenges of charter schools in Indianapolis, where the mayor has the authority to issue charters for new public schools. (Sept. 2004)

Education Reform

The America's Choice School Reform Design (see Innovator # 40) has become a for-profit subsidiary of the National Center on Education and the Economy with the goal of serving more schools and students. (Nov. 16)

Teacher Professional Development

The National Endowment for the Humanities offers approximately thirty seminars and institutes for the intensive study of important texts and topics in the humanities. Stipends to K-12 teachers, ranging from $1,800 to $4,200, are available to help defray expenses for the 2- to 6-week sessions. The deadline to apply is March 1. (Nov. 15)

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Innovations in the News

Charter Schools
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Eugene Hickok and officials from The Reinvestment Fund, Inc. toured the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences charter school in Philadelphia. In 2002 the Fund established a Charter School Capital Access Program, which helps charters buy property and renovate or construct buildings. The NCB Development Corporation, a consortium that includes The Reinvestment Fund, received an OII Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities grant to attract private sector resources for the benefit of charter schools. [More-Philadelphia Inquirer] (Nov. 20)

Education Reform
One Community, One Voice is a new initiative in Lexington (KY) to infuse resources and support from the University of Kentucky into two elementary schools with the goal of closing the achievement gap. Organizers will look at magnet schools for ideas to develop approaches that could be transportable to other schools. [More-Herald-Leader] (Nov. 2)

Two high schools in Ohio offer the Play It Smart program. The year-round program sponsored by the National Football Foundation, and supported through an OII grant, helps athletes improve their academic standing through tutoring and homework assistance. Athletes are also required to perform community service. [More-Cincinnati Enquirer] (Nov. 11)

Teacher Quality
In the past six years more than 1,400 people have embarked on one of Kentucky's six alternative paths to teaching. Nearly half earned their alternative certification last year, according to the latest state data available. [More-Louisville Courier-Journal] (Nov. 15)

Rockford College (IL) is starting an alternative teacher certification program. The first phase is class work with clinical study. The second phase is serving as the teacher of record for the entire school year, which includes working with a mentor every week for two hours a week, plus classroom sessions. [More-WTVO] (Nov. 15)

The New Mexico Public Education Department has received a five-year grant from OII to create an alternative licensure program aimed at recruiting more qualified people into the classroom. Officials hope to attract 700 mid-level professionals and military retirees into the field of teaching, especially in rural school districts. [More-ABQ Journal] (Nov. 12)

Technology
One girl, Hannah Bernhardt, 8, says that Maya and Miguel, the new Ready to Learn TV program produced by Scholastic and funded by a grant from OII, is "good because children who only speak Spanish understand what's happening and those who only speak English can learn a few Spanish words." [More-Washington Post] (Nov. 10)

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Last Modified: 10/31/2007