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Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment of State-Mandated Program Change In Special Education Teacher Preparation
Unformatted Document Text:  PROPOSAL Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment of State-Mandated Program Change In Special Education Teacher Preparation Section I: A. Statement of the issue: For more than a year, special education programs in NJ have been forced to grapple with revisions to licensure code; revisions that effectively downgrade special education at undergraduate and post-baccalaureate levels from a major field of study to an endorsement to elementary or secondary education certification. These changes are responsive to federal demands that NJ (1) increase the number of students with special needs exposed to the general education curriculum in inclusive settings; (2) decrease the number of students with special needs educated in self-contained classes or special schools; and (3) respond to “highly qualified teacher” mandates associated with No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Considering the impact such draconian measures would have on the integrity of our special education professional preparation program, the department sought to create functional teaching/learning communities (Johnson, 1999; Lieberman and Grolnick (1997) to make needed programmatic decisions to support students whose wish was to become special educators. At our institution, significant human and economic resources were directed to the task of developing dual-endorsement programs using elementary education as the base at both undergraduate and post-baccalaureate [alternate route] levels in less than one year. This proposal seeks to address two areas: (1) assessment of each program’s purposes, priorities, and outputs; and (2) substantive comparisons between the programs to determine whether or not qualitative differences are discernable between the two groups of teacher candidates (a) while they are engaged in teacher preparation, and (b) employers’ perspectives on qualitative factors associated with their assumption of professional roles within an educational environment. B. Pre-Literature review: Change, whether in education or in any other aspect of life, is often identified as either evolutionary or revolutionary. Mandated change is clearly an example of the latter. Despite the challenge of coping with mandated change, it does give the department an opportunity to revise, implement and assess alternatives to past practice that may yield positive results. Assessing the outcomes of state-mandated change requires engagement of a combination of qualitative (case analyses, unstructured interview, observation) and quantitative (survey, structured interview) approaches, all of which have been identified in the research literature as means to assess program change. Our methodology goes further to create a systematic lens through which to view the programs longitudinally in the interest of program improvement. With cohort 1, the groups beginning the program in September at both levels, our focus will be to assess: (1) admissions criteria and selectivity factors; (2) advisement quality, teacher candidate satisfaction and dispositions; (3) course delivery in the context of learning communities, and the consistency among course artifacts, professional standards, and expected teacher-candidate learning outcomes. A matrix of selected items cross-referenced professional standards, and indexed to program artifacts and expected student learning outcomes will be produced as the evaluation design evolves. Research literature to support the selected items will be elaborated at that point. C. Contribution: The strand under which this proposal is submitted, Discerning Quality,clearly reflects our intent to identify an array of significant items to be used to draw comparisons between teacher candidates engaged in a traditional undergraduate dual-endorsement program

Authors: Goldstein, Marjorie., Griswold, Peter. and McConnell, Jacqueline.
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PROPOSAL
Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment of State-Mandated
Program Change In Special Education Teacher Preparation
Section I:
A. Statement of the issue
: For more than a year, special education programs in NJ have been
forced to grapple with revisions to licensure code; revisions that effectively downgrade special
education at undergraduate and post-baccalaureate levels from a major field of study to an
endorsement to elementary or secondary education certification. These changes are
responsive to federal demands that NJ (1) increase the number of students with special needs
exposed to the general education curriculum in inclusive settings; (2) decrease the number of
students with special needs educated in self-contained classes or special schools; and (3)
respond to “highly qualified teacher” mandates associated with No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
Considering the impact such draconian measures would have on the integrity of our
special education professional preparation program, the department sought to create functional
teaching/learning communities (Johnson, 1999; Lieberman and Grolnick (1997) to make needed
programmatic decisions to support students whose wish was to become special educators. At
our institution, significant human and economic resources were directed to the task of
developing dual-endorsement programs using elementary education as the base at both
undergraduate and post-baccalaureate [alternate route] levels in less than one year.
This proposal seeks to address two areas: (1) assessment of each program’s purposes,
priorities, and outputs; and (2) substantive comparisons between the programs to determine
whether or not qualitative differences are discernable between the two groups of teacher
candidates (a) while they are engaged in teacher preparation, and (b) employers’ perspectives
on qualitative factors associated with their assumption of professional roles within an
educational environment.
B. Pre-Literature review: Change, whether in education or in any other aspect of life, is often
identified as either evolutionary or revolutionary. Mandated change is clearly an example of the
latter. Despite the challenge of coping with mandated change, it does give the department an
opportunity to revise, implement and assess alternatives to past practice that may yield positive
results.
Assessing the outcomes of state-mandated change requires engagement of a
combination of qualitative (case analyses, unstructured interview, observation) and quantitative
(survey, structured interview) approaches, all of which have been identified in the research
literature as means to assess program change. Our methodology goes further to create a
systematic lens through which to view the programs longitudinally in the interest of program
improvement. With cohort 1, the groups beginning the program in September at both levels,
our focus will be to assess: (1) admissions criteria and selectivity factors; (2) advisement quality,
teacher candidate satisfaction and dispositions; (3) course delivery in the context of learning
communities, and the consistency among course artifacts, professional standards, and
expected teacher-candidate learning outcomes. A matrix of selected items cross-referenced
professional standards, and indexed to program artifacts and expected student learning
outcomes will be produced as the evaluation design evolves. Research literature to support the
selected items will be elaborated at that point.
C. Contribution: The strand under which this proposal is submitted, Discerning Quality,
clearly reflects our intent to identify an array of significant items to be used to draw comparisons
between teacher candidates engaged in a traditional undergraduate dual-endorsement program


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