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CBE for Educator Prep Programs

CBE

What is Competency-Based Education (CBE)?

Competency-based education (CBE) is quickly becoming accepted as an effective way to facilitate powerful, authentic learning at all levels. Sometimes referred to as personalized learning, mastery learning, or proficiency learning, students must demonstrate what they know and are able to do, rather than just put in “seat time” and complete a prescribed set of courses. However, designing a solid CBE program is not as simple as it sounds–it requires a great deal of thought, understanding, and know-how.

There are some institutions that implement the CBE model very effectively. For instance, at the higher education level Western Governors University and Capella University use it successfully.

This model supports students’ learning in a rich way. As a result, graduates are able to reach their goals and achieve their dreams. The CBE model enabled them to demonstrate what they know at their own pace because it helps educators to personalize learning experiences.

The CBE model will be a major player in the educational arena over the next two decades at the P-12 level as well as at the collegiate level.

Essential Tenets for Educator Preparation Programs to Consider

There are some essential thoughts to consider for educator preparation programs thinking about adopting the competency-based education (CBE) model, and I shared some of those tenets in a commentary published in the Journal of Competency-Based Education entitled, Implications for Educator Preparation Programs Considering Competency-Based Education. 

The model helps students demonstrate what they know and are able to do. This is done within the context of a set of well-articulated competencies.  Moreover, teachers measure student learning through high-quality assessments. It’s a great example of academic excellence.

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

 

Top Graphic Credit: Deviantart.com

Is Being Accredited Really That Important When Selecting a College?

We all hear and read about the benefits of earning a college degree: We make more money over a lifetime; we get better jobs; we receive company-paid benefits; we tend to be happier and healthier overall. However, choosing the right college or university can be quite daunting, and yet it’s terribly important, because not all institutions are alike, and the quality can vary widely. While there are lots of things to consider such as cost, degree programs, scheduling, and the like, one thing many college students often overlook is whether or not the university is accredited.

There are many types of accreditation–you may likely hear terms such as regional accreditation, national accreditation, functional or programmatic accreditation, and sometimes even state accreditation. Each plays an important role in quality assurance for specific programs or an entire institution but here’s a strong recommendation:

Don’t ever take a single course from an institution that is not accredited. Never. Ever.

While no guarantee of perfection, accredited institutions have provided certain levels of assurance to respected bodies within academia that students will be taken care of. Non-accredited institutions have had no one looking over their shoulder, digging deep and looking in various academic or financial nooks and crannies; they can accept your money with absolutely no guarantee that the course or degree that you completed will be worth anything at all.

Plus, if you complete courses from an unaccredited institution, there is no guarantee that those courses will be accepted should you decide to transfer to another university later on. Even worse, if you go the distance and complete an entire degree from an institution that’s not accredited, you may find that many employers or graduate schools will not recognize that degree–in their eyes it will be like you don’t have a degree at all–but you’ll still have those student loans to pay back just the same.

Here is an entertaining yet informative video that clears up some of the confusion:

ASPA 2016 Explainer

You should be able to choose a college or university that fits your particular needs:

  • faith-based
  • public
  • private
  • traditional brick & mortar
  • online
  • non-profit
  • for-profit

Regardless of which you choose, make sure it’s a program that is accredited.

–rrf

 

Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher is a national leader in educator preparation, accreditation, online learning, and academic quality assurance. An accomplished presenter, writer, and educator, she currently supports higher education and P-12 schools in areas such as competency-based education, teacher preparation, distance learning, and accreditation through her company, Global Educational Consulting, LLC. She can be reached at: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com

 

Professional Dispositions: Essential Traits for Effective Teaching & School Leadership

Thanks for visiting this page.

The content of Professional Dispositions: Essential Traits for Effective Teaching & School Leadership has been incorporated into the following publication:

Key Skills and Dispositions: Essential Traits all Exceptional Teachers Must Have

 

Please click the link to learn more about this important topic. Thanks for being committed to academic excellence!

 

–rrf

 

Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher is a national leader in accreditation, quality assurance, teacher preparation, and empowerment-based learning. An accomplished presenter, she currently supports educational institutions and non-profit agencies in areas such as quality assurance, accreditation, competency-based education, and educator preparation.  Roberta also writes about academic excellence and can be contacted for consultations, webinars, and on-site workshops through her site (www.robertarossfisher.com). 

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Competency-Based Education to Support P-12 Student Success

The competency-based educational (CBE) model has been used successfully in higher education for the past two decades, and it is starting to gain national traction at the P-12 level. Several states, particularly on the east coast, have already come to appreciate its benefits. The Marzano Academy at Lomie G. Heard Elementary School, a new magnet charter school focusing on STEM will open its doors this fall under the CBE model. The state of Illinois currently has 10 school districts that will begin a pilot in academic year 2018-19 under the Illinois’ Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Pilot Program.

Within CBE, learners must demonstrate what they know and are able to do through carefully designed and calibrated assessments. Expectations are clear and well-defined, and there is thoughtful, purposeful alignment between curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

It’s All About Learning

This model is truly learner-centered: Seat time becomes less important than learning time. Students are able to drive their own learning and work at their own pace within structured guidelines. They are supported through meaningful feedback and mentoring.

Parents and caregivers feel more informed about their child’s progress under the CBE model. They know what their student is learning, their learning goals, progress, and their level of proficiency in each skill set. This helps them to partner with teachers to provide additional support at home.

Teachers recognize the positive impact the CBE model has on student learning and development. They are able to easily track the progress of each student on a daily basis, and they know exactly when a learner needs additional support.

School leaders are able to support teachers more effectively when they know exactly what their needs are. With the CBE model, they can provide strategic assistance through forming a mentoring network to support struggling students; through building school-community partnerships; through offering targeted professional development support, and the like.

Before making a decision to develop one or more programs based on the CBE model, educators must consider the following major questions:

  • Would CBE align with our school’s mission and vision?
  • What are the benefits of CBE for our students?
  • What are the challenges and caveats of CBE?
  • What are the basic steps needed to convert our current curriculum to the CBE model?
  • How can we train and support our faculty and staff so they could implement the CBE model successfully?
  • Could our school commit to a pilot lasting at least five years so we can fully measure the impact CBE has had on our learners?

The Bottom Line

Competency-based education is NOT a shortcut nor an easy fix to serious school challenges. However, if built correctly and maintained properly, the CBE model can prove to be a powerful way to increase student learning, achievement, and satisfaction.

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Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher is a national expert in quality assurance, educator preparation, and empowerment-based learning. She supports educational institutions in areas such as accreditation, institutional effectiveness, competency-based education, and virtual teaching & learning.  Roberta can be contacted for consultations, webinars, and on-site workshops through her site (www.robertarossfisher.com). 

Meeting the Needs of Learners in Today’s Universities

In a recent piece entitled Survey: American Confidence in Higher Ed is Waning, it appears that only about 25% of the sample thinks the current higher education system is fine the way it is, and among millennials, that number drops to 13%. First of all, why do 75% believe the system is NOT meeting their needs? And of the millennial group, why do they feel even more strongly about the current system? In other words, what do today’s learners need that our colleges and universities are not providing?

We need to take a deep dive into this survey data in order to learn more about exactly what questions were asked, and what the demographics of respondents were. For example, are we reading the results of a representative sample, or were most respondents within a particular age group? Were the questions focused on seeking a first college degree, or did they include advanced studies? That sort of thing…However, just speaking in general terms, I’d say we need to focus on two things:

First, we need to revisit the relevance of curriculum found in today’s college degree programs. Are they workforce-driven? Will what students are learning really help them develop better job skills? I see very little true collaboration between higher education institutions and specific industries; this is essential for modernizing the curriculum and ensuring that what graduates will know and be able to do upon graduation will prepare them to be workforce-ready.

Second, we need to provide more structured support for those who need it throughout their programs, from matriculation to graduation. Mentoring models work wonders–This is particularly true for first-generation college students but really can benefit all learners. The key is to have a formal mechanism in place for continually monitoring and evaluating the progress of each learner, and to provide a safety net for them all along the way. Regular phone calls, emails, academic outreach, and the like can work wonders to help learners stay focused, achieve manageable goals, and attain success.

–rrf

 

Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher is a national leader in educator preparation, accreditation, online learning, and academic quality assurance. An accomplished presenter, writer, and educator, she currently supports higher education and P-12 schools in areas such as competency-based education, teacher preparation, distance learning, and accreditation through her company, Global Educational Consulting, LLC. She can be reached at: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com

Alternative Educator Preparation: A Viable Option, or a Non-Starter?

There’s an interesting article about alternative teacher preparation programs entitled Analysis Finds Alternatively Credentialed Teachers Performed Equal to Peers in First Two Years–while the results are inconclusive on several fronts it does present some thoughtful information to consider, including:

  • Are traditional educator preparation programs the ONLY way to train future teachers successfully? Are they BEST way?
  • Can alternative (non-traditional) educator preparation programs support student learning in a positive way, whilst supporting supply and demand challenges faced by multiple school districts across the nation?
  • What are the long-term impacts of educator preparation on our country’s workforce? And, what are the long-term impacts of what we view as an educated society?
  • Will how teachers are prepared impact our standing in the world relative to student achievement?
  • How would we know? What research questions need to be posed?

 

An experienced consultant can help with these questions, and more. Reach out to me for program development, collaboration, accreditation, clinical partnerships, and other matters related to preparing educators with excellence.

–rrf

 

Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher is a national leader in educator preparation, accreditation, online learning, and academic quality assurance. An accomplished presenter, writer, and educator, she currently supports higher education and P-12 schools in areas such as competency-based education, teacher preparation, distance learning, and accreditation through her company, Global Educational Consulting, LLC. She can be reached at: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com

Transition Points & Gateways: Stop Gaps Universities Should Consider

Each higher education institution’s program of study, regardless of major, contains specific phases of progression that each student must successfully complete before being allowed to graduate. In other words, there is a planned, purposeful order to completing a program or earning a college degree—an individual does not just apply for admission and have complete autonomy over the courses taken, the sequence of coursework, when/where/if practica or internships are completed, and so on. The institution makes those decisions after carefully designing each given program of study. They decide things such as:

  • Admission and enrollment criteria
  • General education requirements
  • # of semester hours required for graduation
  • Minimum GPA required to pass each course
  • Clinical experiences, internships, practica
  • Exit examinations required for graduation (or state licensure, depending on the program)

Transition points are sometimes referred to as “gateways”—they are specific points at which a student passes from one stage in his or her program to the next. As long as a student meets the stated expectations, the journey continues and he or she moves ahead toward graduation. If the student fails to meet one or more expectations in a given stage, the institution implements a plan for remediation, additional support, or in some case, counseling out of the program.

I have created a Transition Points framework that may be useful to some educator preparation programs. Of course, Transition Points must be tailored to fit each unique program but could include gateways such as:

  • Transition Point I: Applicant to Pre-Candidate Status 
    • Admission to the program
  • Transition Point II: Pre-Candidate to Candidate Status
    • Completion of Block #1 Coursework & Preparation for Formative Field Experiences
  • Transition Point III: Candidate to Pre-Graduate Status
    • Completion of Block #2 Coursework & Formative Field Experiences 
  • Transition Point IV: Pre-Graduate to Graduate Status
    • Completion of Block #3 Coursework & Culminating Clinical Experiences
  • Transition Point V: Graduate to Program Completer Status
    • Pass Required Licensure/Certification Examination(s)

Do you see the progression? When detailed out, a complete Transitions Points or Gateway table should paint a portrait of a student’s journey from matriculation to program completion; the sequence should represent a logical flow with at least some detail relative to minimum expectations.

I hope this has been helpful to you. Need more ideas? Want to collaborate on a project? Feel free to reach out to me.

–rrf

 

Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher is a national leader in educator preparation, accreditation, online learning, and academic quality assurance. An accomplished presenter, writer, and educator, she currently supports higher education and P-12 schools in areas such as competency-based education, teacher preparation, distance learning, and accreditation through her company, Global Educational Consulting, LLC. She can be reached at: www.robertarossfisher.com. 

Educator Prep: There’s a Better Way.

Numerous sources can point to a teacher shortage across the United States, with some areas having a much greater need than others. With some exceptions, Elementary and Social Studies teachers tend to be in greatest supply but in least demand, while the converse is true for Special Education, English Language Learning, Mathematics, and Science teachers. School districts typically have a much harder time filling teaching positions in urban districts, in Title I schools, and in remote rural areas. In many instances, a lack of experienced, qualified teachers in those areas forces districts to fill those classrooms with individuals who may be well-intentioned but lack sufficient training and cultural competence to be successful. Moreover, those districts often fail to provide adequate mentoring and support in the first two years of employment which results in new teachers feeling isolated and without tools to succeed. Consequently, we typically see a high turnover rate in those areas which has a negative impact on students and the local community at-large over time.

Various state departments of education have taken steps to address this problem. California has recently committed $25 million for scholarship money to help alleviate the teacher shortage by using a “grow your own” model. They are distributing this money to 25 school districts and county offices of education to help 5,000 support staff members earn their teaching credentials while continuing to work at their schools. While the idea has some merit, I see big gaps in the approach. Specifically, they are granting funds only to individuals who complete their teaching license requirements at one of the California State University campuses; this severely restricts the type of training these individuals will receive and it only supports the enrollment of those campuses. Moreover, EdSource reports 1,000 eligible employees can get stipends of $4,000 per year over the course of the five-year grant, which could cover all or most of the cost to enroll in those select institutions, depending on how many courses these employees take per semester. Acknowledging it could take up to five years doesn’t make a convincing case that these programs are innovative or cutting edge—in fact they are likely just serving as a feeder into their current programs. So, for continuing business as usual, these institutions are reaping the reward of 1,000 new enrollments and $25 million. The latest initiative proposed in California is to offer teachers who have taught at least 5 years in the state freedom from state income tax. While an interesting idea, I don’t see it encouraging sufficient numbers of individuals to enter or to remain in the teaching profession. Plus, it could have a negative impact on a state already short on cash.

The state of Nevada has attempted to alleviate the teacher shortage, most severe in the Clark County School District located in Las Vegas. School officials in that district, reportedly the third largest in the nation, face the daunting task each year of hiring approximately 2500 teachers. At the time of this writing, there are currently 672 openings for licensed teachers. The Nevada Department of Education approved an Alternative Route to Licensure (ARL) program designed to alleviate shortages across the state but it seems to be only a partial solution in its present form. What’s of equal concern is that once hired, districts struggle to retain teachers for a variety of reasons.

In addition to approaches that focus on state funding and providing paths to licensure through nontraditional means, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has recently begun looking at teacher preparation itself; staff have initiated statewide conversations amongst educators regarding how new teachers should be prepared. And of course, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has established itself as a national leader on educator quality and preparation through research and rankings of educator preparation programs.

 So what’s the answer?

The solution to having an adequate supply of qualified, well-prepared teachers who will positively impact the lives, learning, and development of their students is not simplistic—it is complicated, and that’s why no one has solved it yet. However, I believe one answer lies in how teachers are prepared. While many educator prep programs do a fine job, many do not and new teachers are simply not ready to enter the classroom, hitting the ground running. They have absolutely no idea how to effectively manage a classroom, deal with an angry parent, meet the needs of EVERY learner in their class, and so on. There is an apparent disconnect between what is being taught in colleges of education and the reality of teaching in today’s classrooms. Is one reason because those responsible for preparing those future teachers have little to no current teaching experience themselves? Have they stepped foot in a P-12 classroom in the past five years? Have they cleaned up vomit all over desks and the floor? Have they done before and after school bus duty? Have they had a student arrested in their class? Have they had to bring comfort to a child who is homeless? I think that while credentialed education faculty are well-intentioned, knowledgeable, and experienced, their skills may not be what’s needed in today’s classrooms.

I have been developing some specific ideas regarding how to train new educators some of which challenge the current preparation model. I’m working on creating an educator preparation program that could work for new teachers as well as new educational leaders that has features unique to any other program I’ve reviewed. Some would call it an alternative program, but I really don’t like that word and would love to see it disassociated with education preparation. Want to know more? Interested in partnering with me on a project of immense importance that is built from the ground level up on academic excellence? Let me hear from you…

–rrf

 

Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher is a national leader in educator preparation, accreditation, online learning, and academic quality assurance. An accomplished presenter, writer, and educator, she currently supports higher education and P-12 schools in areas such as competency-based education, teacher preparation, distance learning, and accreditation through her company, Global Educational Consulting, LLC. She can be reached at www.robertarossfisher.com 

 

 

CAEP Site Visit Logistics

Preparing for an accreditation site visit is always stressful for university faculty and staff, even under the best of circumstances. Depending on whether we’re talking about a regional accrediting body, a state compliance audit, or a discipline-specific accreditor, there are certain processes and procedures that must be followed. For the sake of brevity, this piece will focus on one discipline–that of teacher preparation–using the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) as the sample accrediting body.

There are some important topics to be covered during a pre-visit conference call between the site team lead, the education preparation provider (EPP), and state representatives. By the end of this call, all parties should be “on the same page” and should be clear regarding what to expect in the upcoming site visit. Here are the topics that are essential to cover:

  • Any general questions the EPP has regarding completion of the Addendum
  • Confirm Addendum submission date
  • Review and revise draft visit schedule
  • Travel Details
    • Confirm preferred airport
    • If arrival and departure times coincide, team prefers to pick up a rental car at the airport and provide their own transportation during the site visit.
    • Otherwise, EPP will need to make ground transportation arrangements.
  • Reminder per CAEP guidelines: No receptions, banquets, poster sessions, dinners with EPP representatives, etc.
  • School Visits
    • Not required, but generally requested by the team if there are concerns regarding clinical experiences. Typically limit of 2 (from different grade levels such as 1 Elem & 1 HS)
    • Should not require significant drive time
    • EPP should provide a guide (typically faculty) to drive and serve as host/hostess
    • Usually should take no more than 1 hour on-site at school
  • Work Room at Hotel and on Campus
    • Must be secure and private; lockable.
    • Only site team members and state representatives are to enter the work rooms.
    • Conference table large enough to accommodate all team members and state representatives
    • Printer, secure wifi, LCD or HDTV projector
    • Shredder
    • Basic office supplies (i.e., stapler, paper clips, post-its, note pads, pens, highlighters, etc.)
  • Food/Snacks
    • There should be healthy snacks and beverages (i.e., bottled water, coffee, soda) in the work room at the hotel and on campus.
    • The team will eat breakfast at the hotel each morning.
    • If at all possible, the team will want to remain on campus for lunch, with the ideal arrangement to have lunch catered either in the workroom or in an adjacent room.
    • The EPP should suggest a variety of restaurants within easy driving distance of the hotel for dinner each night.
  • Interviews
    • Generate interviewee list. Examples include:
      • Dean
      • Assessment Director
      • Field Experiences Coordinator
      • Full-Time Faculty
      • Key Adjunct Faculty
      • Current candidates representing multiple programs
      • Program completers representing multiple programs
      • Cooperating teachers from field experiences
      • Clinical supervisors
      • P-12 partners (i.e., superintendents, principals, teachers, etc.)
      • Other:
    • Interview Rooms
      • Depending on final schedule, 3 rooms may be needed simultaneously.
      • Should have a door for privacy
      • EPP representatives should not attend interviews with candidates, program completers, or cooperating teachers
      • EPP should prepare sign-in sheets for each interview.
      • A staff member should be responsible for get all participants to sign in and then leave the room.
      • All sign-in sheets should be sent to the site team lead.
    • Requests for Additional Information or Data
      • All requests should flow from and back to the site team lead.

There will be additional items to discuss but these are the most essential. Remember–advanced preparation is one key to a successful site visit. Do your homework and know what is required. Get organized. Appoint someone with experience to coordinate the event. Start well in advance. And if in doubt, hire a consultant. Earning accreditation is crucial to an institution’s overall success and should never be taken lightly.

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in educator preparation, CAEP accreditation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant and adjunct professor.

 

As Your Consultant, I Need to Know Where the Snakes Are.

Consultant

Birth of a Snake Analogy

Several years ago, my husband and I bought a small farm and decided to do a complete rehab on the old house. One weekend I was by myself and noticed something on the floor as I walked from one room to the other.

Lying very still in the hallway was a small snake, roughly 10-12 inches long. I love animals but for some reason reptiles have never been at the top of my list. I am particularly not interested in having them inside my home.

My 10-second assessment convinced me it wasn’t being aggressive so I quickly ran for the broom and dustpan. Scooping that little critter up and carrying him a safe distance away from the house shot to the top of my priorities list, and I’m happy to report that the mission was successful.

Feeling proud of myself for taking care of this unexpected intruder in a relatively calm manner I went back in and tended to my tasks. However, after about an hour I walked into the bedroom and noticed something lying on the floor.  I couldn’t believe my eyes. How did it get back in? And why would it want to come back and scare me a second time?

Upon closer inspection I then learned it wasn’t the same snake. This one’s colors were a little richer, and it was a little shorter than the first. The realization that two snakes were able to get into my home (somehow, somewhere) did not bring me joy.

Having been successful in showing my first uninvited guest out, I did the same with the second. But by the time I got back in the house I found a third in the kitchen. By the time it was all said and done, I had come across at least seven snakes in my house that weekend. Thankfully, they weren’t poisonous nor were they aggressive. But they jarred me to my bones every time I came across one.

Making a very long story short, my husband and I discovered a hole just large enough for them to have squeezed through. Why those chose to make themselves at home, I’ll never know. But we packed every crack and crevice with enough steel wool and caulk to probably withstand gale force winds.

Snakes and Consultative Support

Now, you may be wondering:

What on earth does this have to do with being a consultant? 

It actually fits perfectly. Let me explain:

Before I ever agree to take on a client in need of a consultant, I always have a fairly lengthy conversation with them. We talk about all the usual particulars and I listen carefully to determine if their needs match up with my skill sets. In other words, I want to determine if I am the best person to help them achieve their goals. If I’m not, I tell them. We part ways and I wish them well.

However, if I do take on a client, I always tell them how important it is to have open, honest communication. We must be able to trust each other. For example, they need my reassurance that everything between us is confidential. It is–I never ever reveal who I work for unless I receive their express permission to share that information. But just as important, I need my clients to be honest with me and tell me exactly what they’re struggling with so ugly surprises don’t pop up later on.

In other words, I need to know where the snakes are.

Regardless of whether I’m working with a College of Education, an online learning department, or an entire institution, as a consultant I need to know what keeps my clients up at night or what makes their stomachs feel queasy. I want to know where the bodies are buried (figuratively). If we agree to work together, I’ll find them eventually, but it would save us both a lot of time if I knew up front what they wouldn’t want to showcase to accrediting bodies, state regulatory agencies, and the like.

On the Path to Continuous Program Improvement

Once we lay all those problems areas out on the table,  we can work together to address them.  We can work together to get those gaps filled and shore up areas that the institution knows deep down should have been taken care of a long time ago.  I can support them in doing what’s necessary to ensure continuous program improvement. As long staff follow the plan, they should be able to handle any unpleasant surprises that may arise — without having to resort to steel wool and caulk.

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, distance learning, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and competency-based education. 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit: pinterest.com

 

Keeping Dr. King’s Dream Alive through Education

Dr. King

As we observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, most people think of his famous I Have a Dream speech, and well they should. It was brilliant, inspiring, and timeless. But part of Dr. King’s dream also recognized the importance of education, believing that an educated society is a key not only to freedom, but to advancement–for all Americans. At the tender age of 18 he wrote about what he called a “true” education:

Dr. King's Dream

The strength of our nation depends on an educated society—a society whose citizens are intellectually curious and who possess the ability to read and think critically.  A truly educated society, however, must also exercise good character and integrity.

Dr. King: Character Matters

Dr. King recognized that simply having a strong command of subject matter doesn’t serve the common good. A mind can be filled with facts and information. However, unless knowledge is coupled with a genuine desire to help others, that knowledge does little good. In fact, it can be quite the opposite:

Dr. King's Dream

 

Keeping Dr. King’s Dream Alive through Education

Entire books could be written about how we can activate Dr. King’s instruction on education. However, here are a few things teachers, parents, students, and community members can do to keep his dream alive:

  • Let’s use our knowledge to positively impact the lives of others–to serve the greater good.
  • We must help our youth to build a solid core of ethics and integrity—an inner compass.
  • Do the right thing even when no one else is looking.

The list of things we as a society can do is endless. It may feel overwhelming, but the important thing is to start somewhere. Start small, and start today. Together, on this special day of remembrance, we can keep Dr. King’s dream alive.

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and competency-based education. 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com

 

Top Graphic Credit: WordPress

Competency-Based Education: One Key to Higher Ed’s Future

higher education

Education writer and administrator Matt Reed recently published a review of a recent book that focuses on the uncertain future of United States higher education. Published by Johns Hopkins University Press, The Great Upheaval provides a comprehensive examination of the institution of higher education. Authors Arthur Levine and Scott Van Pelt successfully mesh historical foundations with implications for the role that our colleges and universities will play over the next several decades. 

Something Reed zeroed in on caught my eye. As a consultant who supports institutions in both accreditation and competency-based education, I was intrigued that he noted the implications for both in a single observation: 

“The most intriguing prediction, to my mind, was around accreditation. They predict that the object of accreditation will shift from the institution to the student, with something like accreditors verifying that students have achieved certain defined competencies. Where they achieved them is much less important.”

This is spot on. In years past, the traditional model of post-secondary teaching and learning was established and unquestioned. Faculty taught from a lectern at the front of a classroom. We “imparted our knowledge” to students in the form of lectures. They came to class, sat passively feverishly taking notes, and regurgitated what they had heard in lectures on an exam. 

Exams comprised what were typically low-level objective items with a predominant blend of true/false, fill-in-the-bubble or short essay questions. In many cases, they were scored by machine for convenience. Student grades were based on attending class and passing exams. There was never any assurance that students were actually learning on a deep level. In other words, as long as they played by the rules, they progressed in their program and eventually graduated. 

Traditional Regulatory Oversight

Accrediting bodies have embraced that traditional educational model. Credits were assigned according to the Carnegie unit. Course content was easily understood by reviewing a course description or syllabus. Institutional quality was measured by metrics such as faculty qualifications and scholarly activity; student retention; and low student loan default rates.

While these factors are each important there is one metric that’s been mostly overlooked: To what extent are students actually learning? Enter the competency-based education (CBE) model.

Competency-Based Education (CBE)

This approach to teaching and learning has gained traction over the past decade. I’ve written on CBE several times before. As I explained in my piece The Time Has Come for Competency-Based Education

Competency-based education isn’t an easier way to learn or to earn a college degree–it’s just different.

With this model, teaching and learning are completely different from that of traditional classrooms. Students must actually demonstrate what they know and are able to do against a set of standards-based, measurable competencies. Faculty serve more as mentors and learning resources, as opposed to providing direct instruction. CBE requires everyone – students, faculty, and departmental staff to think very differently. 

In order to survive and thrive, I really do believe that we will see a greater emphasis from regulatory agencies on measurable student learning. Authors Levine and Van Pelt spoke to this in their book. This transition will require institutions to critically reexamine their long-held practices and likely make programmatic and infrastructure modifications. Some will be up to the challenge. They will gradually start building a competency-based design lean heavily toward making data-informed decisions. Sadly, other higher education institutions will not make this transition, from either a lack of desire or a lack of know-how. Those institutions that cannot adopt a more student-centric model will fail. 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and competency-based education. 

Twitter: @RRossFisher         Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

Top Graphic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

Preparing for a CAEP Site Visit

CAEP Site Visit

Preparing for an accreditation site visit is always stressful for university faculty and staff, even under the best of circumstances. Depending on whether we’re talking about a regional accrediting body, a state compliance audit, or a discipline-specific accreditor, there are certain processes and procedures that must be followed. This piece will focus helping teacher preparation programs prepare for a Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) site visit.

Essential CAEP Site Visit Preparation Items

Approximately 2-4 months prior to a site visit, the CAEP team lead will meet virtually the educator preparation program (EPP) administrator(s) and staff. Sometime representatives of that state’s department of education will participate. By the end of this meeting, all parties should be “on the same page” and should be clear regarding what to expect in the upcoming site visit. Here are the topics that are essential to cover. Keep in mind that these items are for onsite program reviews. Due to COVID, all site visits are currently being conducted virtually.

Virtual and/or Hybrid Site Reviews

Virtual or hybrid virtual site reviews require a different type of preparation than those I’m describing below. In those instances, an institution’s IT staff must take great care several months prior to the review to create a secure, user-friendly repository for internal faculty and staff drafts but also for the evidence library and final submission documents. Moreover,  those IT staff must build on that digital framework for use during the review for site visitors. There are several key considerations that are needed when building out the digital repository. Those are beyond the scope of this publication and require a separate article.

Travel Details

    • Confirm preferred airport
    • If arrival and departure times coincide, team prefers to pick up a rental car at the airport and provide their own transportation during the site visit.
    • Otherwise, EPP will need to make ground transportation arrangements

School Visits

    • Not required, but generally requested by the team if there are concerns regarding clinical experiences. Typically limit of 2 (from different grade levels such as 1 Elem & 1 HS)
    • Should not require significant drive time
    • EPP should provide a guide (typically faculty) to drive and serve as host/hostess
    • Usually should take no more than 1 hour onsite at school

Hotel and Onsite Workrooms

    • Must be secure and private; lockable.
    • Only site team members and state representatives are to enter the work rooms.
    • Conference table large enough to accommodate all team members and state representatives
    • Printer, secure wifi, LCD or HDTV projector
    • Shredder
    • Basic office supplies (i.e., stapler, paper clips, post-its, note pads, pens, highlighters, etc.)

Food/Snacks Onsite and in Hotel Workroom

    • There should be healthy snacks and beverages (i.e., bottled water, coffee, soda) in the work room at the hotel and on campus.
    • The team will eat breakfast at the hotel each morning.
    • If at all possible, the team will want to remain on campus for lunch, with the ideal arrangement to have lunch catered either in the workroom or in an adjacent room.
    • The EPP should suggest a variety of restaurants within easy driving distance of the hotel for dinner each night.

Interviews: So Important in a CAEP Site Visit

Generate a list of individuals who can respond accurately and confidently to team members’ questions. Typical examples include:

      • Dean
      • Assessment Director
      • Field Experiences Coordinator
      • Full-Time Faculty
      • Key Adjunct Faculty
      • Current candidates representing multiple programs
      • Program completers representing multiple programs
      • Cooperating teachers from field experiences
      • Clinical supervisors
      • P-12 partners (i.e., superintendents, principals, teachers, etc.)

Onsite Interview Rooms

      • Depending on final schedule, site team members may need to use 3 rooms simultaneously.
      • There must be a door for private conversations and deliberations.
      • EPP representatives should not attend interviews with candidates, program completers, or cooperating teachers
      • EPP should prepare sign-in sheets for each interview.
      • A staff member should get all participants to sign in and then leave the room.
      • All sign-in sheets should be sent to the site team lead.
      • Requests for Additional Information or Data: All requests should flow from and back to the site team lead.

Advanced Preparation is Key to a Successful CAEP Site Visit

This list may feel exhausting, but it’s not exhaustive. I have included only the most essential items here. Remember–advanced preparation is one key to a successful site visit. University staff should do their homework and know what is required. Get organized. Appoint someone with experience to coordinate the event. Start well in advance. And if in doubt, hire a consultant. Each institution’s success depends in no small part to their ability to earn accreditation. This process is quite complex and should never be taken lightly.

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit: Scott Graham on Unsplash

Consultants Aren’t Necessary. Until They Are.

Consultant
  • “We really didn’t think we needed a consultant.”
  • “We thought we could handle it in-house.”
  • “We just didn’t have the money to pay for a consultant.” 
  • “We’re a small institution. Surely ____ will take that into consideration during the site visit.” 

I’d venture a guess that very few higher education institutions build external consulting fees into their annual budgets. Administrators make sure all the essentials are covered, such as hiring faculty and staff, facility and grounds maintenance, advertising, travel, IT infrastructure, legal fees, and the like. But hardly any ever plan for needing to hire a consultant to help with compliance and accreditation matters. 

That’s because higher education administrators never think they need outside guidance. Until they realize that they do. 

And many times, they come to this realization very late in the accreditation game. I’ve received calls from frantic department chairs, deans, and presidents whose anxiety you could literally feel through the phone. 

They thought they had things under control, and then something happened that threw their plans out of orbit. Over the years, I’ve been brought in when a key faculty member, assessment coordinator, or department chair has taken a job with another university. I’ve also been called when the institution’s dean had been incompetent for many years and executive leaders allowed him to stay in that position. Those leaders thought the path of least resistance was to stay the course and it worked for a while with others providing cover, but then they discovered by accident that the institution was scheduled for a national accreditation site review in a few months. 

I’ve also been called on to help when the horse has already left the stall – when an institution actually had lost their accreditation and by default, their state program approval. They had students enrolled in multiple programs, but were unable to recommend them for state licensure because they were no longer authorized to do so. 

As one might imagine, those situations are messy. They are uncomfortable. But these are when an experienced consultant is well worth their fee. Of course, no consultant can ever guarantee a positive end result–that’s impossible–but someone with the right skill set and expertise can get an institution back on solid footing and headed back in the right direction. 

CHEA fellow Rachel Smith recently penned a thoughtful piece that presents the benefits and drawbacks of hiring independent contractors. She also offers some alternatives for higher education administrators to consider if for whatever reason a paid consultant just isn’t feasible. It’s a useful guide to keep handy. 

In this ever-changing landscape of state, regional, and national regulations, it can be a comfort to know that when the chips are down and the stakes are high, an experienced consultant’s fees can be money well spent. 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit:  Dan Dimmock on Unsplash

Gainful Employment: The Saga Continues

Gainful Employment Rule

The Gainful Employment Rule is back in the headlines, at least within the higher education sphere. According to a fact sheet provided by the Institute for College Access & Success (ICAS), the current Higher Education Act requires that all career education programs receiving federal student aid — many of which are for-profit institutions —  “prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” 

Watching all the changes connected to this Rule has been akin to watching a tennis match over the past six years, and it looks like there’s more to come. 

Obama Enacts Gainful Employment Rule

In 2015, the Obama Administration enacted the Gainful Employment Rule to protect unsuspecting students from unscrupulous for-profit predatory institutions. 

Needless to say, for-profit institutions hated the Gainful Employment Rule. Why? Because they could no longer rake in huge sums of tuition money, much of which came directly from the federal government, without accountability. 

In other words, they could no longer enroll unsuspecting students, issue a diploma that often wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, and leave bewildered graduates out in the cold and unable to find work. To make matters worse, these graduates were then saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. 

Data generated from the Education Department and crunched by the ICAS confirm that more than 350,000 students who graduated between 2010 and 2012 fell prey to predatory, low-quality for-profit institutions. These institutions could be categorized as the “bottom of the barrel” in terms of academic quality. They were dangerously close to losing their accreditation, meaning they could no longer qualify to receive federal financial aid money.  

Just how much taxpayer money did those for-profits rake in from those unsuspecting graduates who had worked so hard to make a better life for themselves and their families? Nearly $7.5 billion. The result was 350,000 men and women who found themselves strapped down in student loan debt and unable to find work. These individuals were often first-generation college students and people of color. 

Keep in mind that these figures are only for program completers (graduates). The data would be far higher if we included those who began programs and then for whatever reason had to drop out. 

New Administration, New Policy on Gainful Employment

The for-profit world was ecstatic when Donald Trump appointed Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. Because of her background in the for-profit education business, they already viewed her as a friend. It took very little lobbying to convince her that higher education institutions shouldn’t be held accountable for their graduates’ success. 

As a result, in 2019 the Trump Administration rescinded the Gainful Employment Rule and immediately allowed schools to stop complying. It’s now as if the rule had never existed. In fact, when running a search for Gainful Employment here’s a screenshot of what you will currently find on the Education Department website: 

 

Gainful E

 

As a result, predatory for-profits have been allowed to play in the sandbox unfettered for two years without any gainful employment accountability. 

To sweeten the deal even more, the Trump Administration’s Education Department also rolled back another Obama-era decision to shut down the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). This particular accrediting body caters to for-profit predators who can’t earn accreditation from other bodies. Their efforts are mostly rubber-stamped and institutions aren’t held accountable for outcomes. I’ve written previously about ACICS and the institutions it has granted accreditation in ACICS: It’s Time to Pull the Plug and The Dominoes That Didn’t Have to Fall: Vatterott College, the ECA, and Others Like Them

Rescinding the Gainful Employment Rule and ACICS went hand-in-glove. 

 

Another New Administration, Another New Policy 

According to reporting in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Biden Administration will likely take steps to reverse the damage caused by the rescission of the Gainful Employment Rule, but it won’t happen overnight. 

The process will require a lengthy rule-making process and if approved, won’t take effect until at least mid-2022. 

That gives the predatory for-profit world enough time to mount a defense through highly-paid lobbyists. Their efforts can sway public opinion and lawmakers’ minds.

If reinstating the Gainful Employment Rule was as easy as it was to rescind it, we could protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of victimized students.  We could also save billions of taxpayer dollars that continue to fatten the bank accounts of for-profit presidents. 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit: princess on Unsplash

 

Soft Skills and Dispositions: Essential Traits for Exceptional Teachers

Soft Skills and Dispositions

We often read today about soft skills but feel confused as to what this means. Soft skills are also commonly known as dispositions. Regardless of the term you use, soft skills and dispositions are connected to our attitudes, our work habits, and our interpersonal skills.

Being an effective teacher or school leader involves much more than simply possessing a solid command of subject matter or earning a certain grade point average (GPA). It also takes more than an ability to write lesson plans, or to maintain discipline in a classroom.

Soft Skills, Dispositions Defined

Accrediting bodies such as the the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) as well as the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) emphasize the role that soft skills or professional dispositions play in effective teaching and school leadership.

These bodies hold schools of education accountable for identifying, selecting, and graduating individuals who indicate a propensity for success as an educator. This includes demonstrating specific soft skills or professional dispositions.

In a white paper focusing on knowledge, skills, and dispositions sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the Innovative Lab Network (ILN) defined dispositions as: mindsets (sometimes referred to as behaviors, capacities, or habits of mind) that are closely associated with success in college and career.

Our Soft Skills Leave an Impact on Others

Our soft skills and dispositions make a statement about who we are, what we believe, and what kind of employee we will be.

For example, being an effective teacher requires numerous skills that are essential to teaching and learning success. Not all of these skills involve subject area expertise.

When students are asked to think back to their favorite teacher–the ones who made the greatest impact on their lives, they make comments like these:

  • She always made me feel as though I mattered.
  • He had a great sense of humor!
  • She could admit when she had made a mistake.
  • He was tough, but always fair. 
  • Being in Mr. ______’s class made me want to become a teacher. 
  • She was kind of like a mom to me when my life was in such chaos.
  • She always encouraged me to keep going and told me she knew I could make it. And I did. 

Comments like these are the result of teachers who made a profound impact on their students’ lives. The impact isn’t just academically, but personally.

Soft Skills & Dispositions: Our Professional “Compass”

Soft skills or dispositions stem from our beliefs, our attitudes, and our professional “compass” that steers us through life. For example:

  • Do I really care about children?
  • Am I compassionate and empathetic?
  • Am I responsible enough to arrive on time each day?
  • Do I respond promptly to phone calls or emails from parents?
  • Do I begin each day fully prepared?
  • Am I respectful of other ideas or traditions, even if they differ from my own?
  • Do I take responsibility for my own actions?
  • Do I take the high road even when no one else is looking?

 

Ten Essential Key Soft Skills for Teachers

In its research, the Innovative Lab Network was able to pinpoint 10 key soft skills or dispositions that effective teachers possess:

Correlation to Student Success

STRONG IMPACT

MODERATE IMPACT

  • Self-Efficacy
  • Initiative
  • Integrity
  • Intellectual Curiosity
  • Adaptability
  • Study Skills
  • Time & Goal Management
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Problem Solving
  • Leadership
  • Critical Thinking
  • Self-Awareness

The Role of Grit and Self-Control

Renowned psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth identified two key characteristics that closely predict achievement across multiple professions: grit and self-control.

In essence, grit is the ability to play the long game – to remain focused and committed to meeting long-term goals. In other words:

Grit means not giving up and moving on to something else when there are challenges or bumps in the road.

 

Self-control is similar to self-discipline. It refers to not allowing ourselves to act on impulses and not needing instant gratification.

In many ways, grit and self-control are related. Individuals who possess these traits can remain focused on accomplishing their long-term goals and are able to cross the finish line.

We need teachers and school leaders with grit and self-control.

 

What School Districts Look for When Hiring Teachers

Many school principals and human resource directors are looking to hire teachers who demonstrate professional traits and behaviors such as:

  • Adaptable, confident, & organized
  • Good communicators & lifelong learners
  • Team players but also leaders
  • Imaginative, creative, & innovative
  • Committed to Students & the Profession
  • Can locate engaging resources, including technology
  • Empowered and inspire students
  • Successfully manages a positive online reputation
  • Able to periodically unplug from technology & social media

It’s essential to hire teachers who will make a long-term positive impact on the achievement, success, and lives of our students. Subsequently, building principals need to provide teachers with professional development support and mentoring at all career phases to foster their soft skills.

 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit: Adam Winger on Unsplash

 

Board Chair Puts College Between a Rock and a Hard Place

rock and a hard place

Talk about putting an institution between a rock and a hard place. North Idaho College’s regional accreditation is in jeopardy as a result of its Board Chair’s alleged actions. 

According to an article in The Spokesman-Review, there are multiple complaints about his aggressive, threatening, and unprofessional behavior toward the college president, employees and trustees. In one case, the president himself reportedly saw this man physically assault a female college employee at a college-sponsored event in 2019. 

A damning article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education provided details about just how bad things are for the College. It speaks to the role that local politics are playing and apparently North Idaho College has become the pawn in a political battleground. 

Formal complaints have been filed about other Board actions that seem to be in violation of accrediting regulations. And now, the institution must somehow mount a defense and try to convince their regional accreditor why they shouldn’t lose their accreditation. If that happens, the doors to that college close. 

All because of one man and a political agenda.

The College’s Board of Trustees had better think long and hard about the consequences of continuing to support this Chair. 

If North Idaho College loses its accreditation and the institution is forced to close, the entire region will be negatively impacted. Business owners will have a harder time finding a qualified workforce pool. Restaurants, gas stations, and other retail stores will have fewer customers with cash in their pockets. Consequently, the overall quality of life will suffer.

The time is quickly approaching for the Board to make a decision regarding which is more important, advancing their political agenda or keeping the College open? They can’t have it both ways. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. 

 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit:  Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash 

 

Unforced Errors Could Derail For-Profit Deal

For-Profit

Updated May 5, 2021: The Higher Learning Commission removed Walden’s governmental investigation designation from their website. The University and Laureate are likely breathing a big sigh of relief because of this decision, but they still have a long way to go before this is put behind them.

 

A series of alleged unscrupulous practices at one institution could end up derailing three for-profit companies within the higher education sector. 

Students, faculty, and investors in Walden University, its parent company Laureate Education, and potential buyer Adtalem Global Education could all be negatively impacted as a result of ongoing governmental regulatory investigations brought about by allegations that Walden was less than honest about one of its programs. 

 

Cash-Strapped For-Profit Laureate Education

Apparently, Laureate has been bleeding cash for quite some time and has been strategically trying to quietly sell off low-hanging fruit that weren’t money makers. According to its 2020 3rd Quarter SEC report, they ceased operations in Europe, Central America, Asia, and Saudia Arabia back in 2017-2018. 

Those divestitures didn’t make a big enough impact on their debt load so they started looking around to see what else they could sell. In 2020, they found buyers for their operations in Chile, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. The company briefly considered operating in Chile as a non-profit but that idea was nixed due to a changing political and regulatory climate. 

As a result of these sell-offs, only Mexico and Peru currently serve as Laureate’s principal foreign markets. 

 

COVID-19’s Not the Cause for Laureate’s Financial Woes

In its SEC report, Laureate wrote about the global impact COVID-19 has had on higher education operations, both domestically and around the world. While that’s certainly true, Laureate’s financial woes can’t be blamed on COVID because they started long before the virus reared its ugly head. The company admitted as much, but tried to make the argument that the pandemic could potentially further impair its future financial health if its ability to enroll students, raise tuition, and collect student debt was hampered. 

Every higher education institution in the world could make that statement. 

Selling off operations in foreign countries helped Laureate’s debt load, but not significantly. The sales from Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, and others only brought in a few hundred thousand dollars apiece. Laureate’s in need of some serious cash. 

 

Walden University: A Potential Game Changer for Laureate’s Bank Account

In a purchase finalized back in 2004, Laureate Education owns Walden University, based in Minneapolis. Walden has operated within the higher education space for quite some time. The institution has about 50,000 students and has generally held a good reputation. 

A significant part of Walden’s success can be attributed to the fact that it has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1990. Many of their programs also hold highly coveted specialized accreditation: 

According to its SEC report, Laureate has a buyer for Walden. It plans to seal the deal by the end of 2021. 

 

Adtalem Global Education

The potential buyer is Adtalem Global Education, which used to be known as the DeVry Education Group until 2017. It turns out that the company’s name change came about after DeVry University agreed to pay $100 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit alleging it misled tens of thousands of students about their post-graduation job and income prospects, according to the Chicago Tribune.

According to its website, Adtalem currently owns and operates eight institutions and companies and has a presence in 209 territories and countries. 

Adtalem’s primary focus seems to be strictly on the nursing programs. According to a press release, the company’s goal after acquiring Walden is to become number one for total undergraduate and graduate nursing enrollment in the U.S. with 90,000 students. 

In order to achieve this lofty goal, Adtalem plans to lay down a hefty $1.5 billion for the University. In cash. What will happen to the rest of Walden University’s academic programs that lie outside the healthcare professions remains unknown. 

 

Giant Flies in the For-Profit Ointment

The deal between Laureate and Adtalem isn’t sealed just yet. On September 11, 2020, the two companies entered into a sale agreement. However, just three days later on September 14, 2020 the Civil Division of the US Department of Justice notified Walden the University of its investigation.

One month after that, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) notified Walden they were planning to publish a public “Governmental Investigation” designation to the University on its website due to the DOJ inquiry.  In a desperate move, Laureate filed a lawsuit against the HLC to force them to remove the public designation. The DOJ decided not to act and sent it back, according to a US District Court document released on April 23. 

In addition, Higher Ed Dive reports that there are allegations Walden made misrepresentations about its Master of Science in Nursing program to the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and that it falsely advertised aspects of the degree to students, including the availability of clinical site placements required to complete the program. 

In other words, Walden University and Laureate Education are in hot water. 

Even if all these allegations are disproved this sale may still not go through. It would then have to pass through a series of regulatory hoops. Any one of them could significantly delay or derail the transaction.

One major hurdle is getting the deal approved by the HLC. That accreditor must approve the university’s substantive change application for Adtalem to take ownership. This won’t be easy given the circumstances. 

It turns out that these alleged unforced errors could potentially derail this for-profit deal within the higher education sector. Laureate Education could see its financial position weaken even further if it’s not able to make the $1.5 billion sale. Adtalem’s strategic goal of becoming the biggest dog in the park for healthcare enrollments could go up in smoke. And perhaps worst of all, Walden University could lose something that money cannot buy: Its good name and reputation. 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit:  Vladimir Solomyani on Unsplash

 

School Choice and Vouchers: A Common-Sense Approach

School Choice and Vouchers

We hear a lot in the news about school choice and vouchers. These terms are often tied to national or state education reform. Many state legislatures have already passed bills affirming the need for school choice by approving school vouchers, while others are actively considering them.

But what do these terms mean? What is their impact on student learning? And, what’s the best way to develop common sense school choice solutions?

 

School Choice

Laws vary from state to state, but in Missouri students are allowed to enroll in school at age 5 and are required to start by age 7. They must continue to attend school until 17 or until they’ve completed 16 credits toward high school graduation. The basic concept of school choice is to let parents and guardians decide where and how they want their child educated. Under current law, they have three options:

  • Enroll their child in the local public school at no charge;
  • Pay tuition to send their child to an area private or parochial school; or
  • Take on the role of educating their child at home.

 

In most instances, these options are sufficient for meeting the needs of students across Missouri. However, some parents want additional flexibility when it comes to educating their child. Perhaps they want to send their son or daughter to a private school but can’t afford the tuition — maybe it’s not feasible to homeschool – or there’s another public school close to where they work, and it would be more convenient to enroll their child there. In Missouri most would agree that personal freedom is a vital part of who we are, including having a say in how and where our children are educated.

The challenge lies in how to best implement school enrollment options.

 

School Vouchers

Proponents often suggest vouchers as a solution to navigating the waters of school choice options. Similar to a coupon, a school voucher is a “transfer ticket” – thereby allowing a student to transfer from one school to another. A school voucher could conceivably be used across traditional public schools, public charter schools, private and parochial schools, or virtual schools.

One method for implementing school vouchers is through state and/or federal tax credits. Known as HB 349, the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts bill currently under consideration in the Show-Me State which would allow parents who live in any county with a charter form of government or in any city with a population of at least 30,000 to take advantage of state tax credits for sending their child to the school of their choice.

However, in their current form such bills remove all educational oversight from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and place this authority into the hands of the state treasurer. In other words, while their passage would certainly pave the way for greater school choice, they could also jeopardize educational quality and risk hurting the students they were trying to help.

While the state treasurer is well qualified to manage the fiscal details of tax credits and disbursements to schools, the responsibility for ensuring academic quality should be left up to those with expertise in that area—namely, DESE.

 

Important Considerations

An obvious benefit of school choice is personal freedom for parents and students. However, we must also consider potential drawbacks before legislating a voucher system. For example:

Student Learning and Achievement

Before we make any decision involving education, the most important question we must ask is, “What will be the impact on student learning and achievement?” If we’ve done our homework and can be confident that students will benefit, then by all means we should proceed. However, if we simply don’t know the impact of a decision, then we must proceed cautiously.

The fact is, more quality research studies need to be conducted to determine what long-term effect school vouchers have on student learning. However, the current results suggest in the short term, elementary and middle school student learning has actually dropped in many states. This is true particularly in mathematics.

On the other hand, high school graduation rates tend to be greater for students who participate in a voucher program. Right now, we simply don’t know enough to conclude that a voucher program is an effective way to advance student learning.

Before passing any school choice legislation, lawmakers should consider what the current body of educational research says about the impact of voucher programs on student achievement.

 

Funding Impact on Public Schools

Public schools receive state funding based on a foundation formula, and average daily student attendance plays a big role in how much school districts receive each year. Simply stated, when student enrollment drops schools receive less money to operate.

In districts where businesses and industry are plentiful, local tax revenues are typically higher and therefore schools are less dependent on state funds.  Poorer school districts are very dependent on annual state aid. Schools suffer in areas where property taxes are lower and less commercial revenue is generated.

Fewer students means there is less money to develop curriculum, to buy new textbooks, and invest in technology. Fewer students means there is less money to pay for highly-qualified, experienced teachers. And in an increasing number of rural schools, districts are being forced to cut back to a four-day school week in order to save on essentials such as bus transportation, meals, and electricity.

We want to promote personal freedom. However, we must be careful not to place additional financial strain on local public schools.  This could have a negative impact on student learning.

 

Regulatory Impact on Participating Voucher Schools

Under the proposed voucher system in Missouri, schools would receive funding for each transfer student. These funds would be disbursed by the state treasurer. Given the fiscal challenges that many private and parochial schools commonly face, the program could provide a much-needed financial boost. However, if those schools accept state funds, they risk losing considerable autonomy. Schools that receive state funding must be held accountable to the state for student achievement.

Non-public schools will need to carefully consider the impact of receiving state funds before electing to participate in a school voucher program.

 

A Common-Sense Solution

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to offer parents greater freedom when it comes to educating their child. We can all agree that our children deserve an exceptional education. However, it’s important to carefully think through the details. We must carefully consider potential benefits and pitfalls before moving forward with public policy decisions.

The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program could be viable, with some modifications:

1.)    Establish the Program as a 5-year pilot. Renew it as long as it proves to be fiscally feasible and educationally beneficial to students.

2.)    The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) should serve as the regulatory body responsible for ensuring the academic quality. The state treasurer should be responsible for fiscal oversight and management of tax credits and payments to participating schools.

3.)    DESE officials should collaborate with qualified educational researchers to design and implement a comprehensive research study. That study would determine the short-term and long-term impact of the Program.

4.)    Form a panel of stakeholders representing the state treasurer, DESE, parents, participating schools, and the general public. This group would monitor the ongoing success of the Program. Agree on a set of metrics and review data at established intervals. Make recommendations regarding continuation, modification or if needed, discontinuation of the Program.

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit: drrichswier.com

Online Class Discussions: Practical Tips

Online Class Discussions

As more and more schools move instruction online because of COVID-19 concerns, faculty are scrambling for practical information. For example, Sheri Popp offered some practical suggestions for P-12 teachers and higher education faculty who are new to the world of distance learning, including the value of online class discussions. These can be facilitated through a written discussion board format where students participate asynchronously, or faculty can provide synchronous instruction by conducting discussions in live class sessions using video conferencing tools. 

My Own Online Class Discussions

Since my online courses are set up in Blackboard, I use Zoom for my live class sessions. This tool allows me to hear and see my students, and we are able to engage in meaningful, substantive conversations each week. Zoom also lets me add files, share my desktop, and use a virtual whiteboard to interact with my students. I can also create breakout rooms where two or more students can work on a given topic. I’m also able to pop in and out of the rooms as needed.

When I grant moderator status to my students, they can share their own desktop and files. That’s important because I require them to come prepared each week to our sessions with some type of visual aid. For example, students could prepare a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation. They could submit a basic Word document, or they could even create their own video using VidGrid, Zoom, or YouTube. This makes the experience much more participatory.

What’s more is that my students gain valuable practice in making virtual presentations. I’ve even started appointing a different student each week to lead the online class discussions; this helps them to build their confidence and develop their leadership skills. 

Online Class Discussions: Offer Students a Choice

While I hold them accountable for the same level of performance, I don’t require all my students to participate in live online class discussions; I offer it as an option. Why? There are two reasons: (1) Not all students will have access to high-speed Internet connections that are necessary for video conferencing; and (2) some students may just prefer to complete their class discussion requirements in the traditional written form. I like it when I’m given choices in life, and my students like it as well. Having the choice of either synchronous or asynchronous instruction empowers them to make important decisions about their own learning.  

How to Evaluate Student Work in Online Class Discussions

Regardless of whether they complete their requirements in a written discussion board forum or through a live class session, I hold my students accountable for the same level of performance. I do this through an analytic rubric that contains criteria categories that are applicable to both. Through this approach, faculty can evaluate student work fairly and equitably. In addition to their scores on the rubric, I always provide students with substantive feedback about their work designed to point out their strengths as well as specific areas they need to focus on for improvement. 

Teaching online may feel scary at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Just as it took time to develop your skills as an effective face-to-face educator, it will also require time to hone your skills (and your confidence) as an effective online educator. But you are not alone. We’re all in this together, and there are many people who can help. Don’t be afraid to ask. 

 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

            

Top Graphic Credit: SlideShare

Accreditation Stress: It’s Real.

Accreditation Stress

Author’s Note: Updated from a previous publication. 

We can all agree: Accreditation is something all higher education officials acknowledge is necessary, but the accreditation stress that goes along with it is something they’d love to do without.

Each accrediting body has its own standards and quality indicators. They have their own policies and procedures which can vary widely. However, one thing that’s common across every accrediting body a site visit, where a review team spends a few days on campus (or virtually) conducting interviews, verifying information, and making recommendations regarding how well the institution measures up to standards.

Regardless of the accrediting body, the site visit is both expensive and exhausting. With very few exceptions, faculty, staff, and administrators shout for joy when they see a site review team leave campus and head for the airport.

Accreditation Stress is Real.

In many instances, staff involved in the accreditation process focus so much on preparing for the site visit they aren’t ready for the emotional or physical toll that it can take on them. Moreover, the stress usually doesn’t end when the site review team leaves. My experience in accreditation over the past 10 years has confirmed there’s a need for this kind of information, and yet it’s a topic I’ve never seen addressed at conferences or in professional literature.

Accreditation-related stress and anxiety are real. You might be able to function, and you may be able to hide it from others. But, how do you know if it’s starting to get the best of you? And what can you do about it?

Red Flag Alert: Some Signs the Stress is Negatively Impacting Your Life

You’re surviving, but you’re not thriving. You may be making it through each day, but the quality of your life is suffering. You’re not enjoying the things that used to make you happy. You feel guilty about taking the time to watch a sunset or to read a book. Every waking moment is spent thinking about the site visit.

Those lights in your brain just won’t shut off. You can’t sleep, even though you feel exhausted. You’re worn out physically and mentally, but you can’t allow yourself to take even a few hours off to rest.

You’re numb inside. You have no appetite and aren’t eating. You’ve even managed to shut down your emotions. It’s like you’ve gone on auto-pilot and feel like a robot.

You feel empty, like there’s a gaping hole inside. But even though the emptiness isn’t from hunger you binge eat everything in sight. And then you still look around for more because you still have that huge gaping hole that just can’t seem to be filled.

You become obsessed with every detail, no matter how minute it may seem. It’s those little foxes that spoil the vine. You’re determined that you’re going to make sure NOTHING is overlooked.  

You come to believe that you are ultimately responsible for the success of the site review. If you’re honest with yourself, you don’t think others are as committed to success as you are. The little voice inside you says, “If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself!”

You start to resent others who don’t seem as stressed out as you are. While you hate feeling like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, you refuse to delegate responsibility to others and then you get mad when you hear that they went to a movie or a concert over the weekend.

Drink the Stress Away: You may hear yourself saying, “I just need to take the edge off” or “I just need to relax for a while.” Having one glass of Chardonnay is one thing but knocking back five tequila shots in 30 minutes is another.

Ups and Downs: You may self-medicate by taking a pill or two to help you sleep because even though you’re exhausted, you’re wired due to all the stress.

Caffeine overload: You may guzzle coffee, soda, or Red Bull throughout the day (or night) because, “I’ve got to keep going for just a little while longer.”

Shop ‘til Your Fingers Drop: On a whim you may go on a shopping spree and spend a ton of money on things you probably didn’t really need. Not at a brick and mortar store or mall—that would be far too self-indulgent. Instead, you likely visited Zappos or Amazon, where you could remain close to your computer and be right there to respond to an urgent email should one land in your Inbox.

Keep Setting the Bar Higher: You set impossible standards for yourself to meet and then criticize yourself endlessly when you don’t meet them. It’s like you’re obsessed with proving something to others—and to yourself. Except that you’re never satisfied with your performance, even when you do things well.

Slay the Dragon: You plan things down to each minute detail, leaving no stone unturned. You review things in your mind, over and over again. Sometimes you obsess about forgetting something. You’re determined to emerge victorious, regardless of the personal cost.

Accreditation Stress: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Think the stress of getting ready for a site visit only affects you? Think again. If you have close friends, a life partner, or children, they are affected as well. It’s possible that your furry buddies at home can even detect your anxiety. You’ll know if your stress is out of balance if you hear a loved one say, “I miss you!” “I HATE your job!” or “Will this ever end?”

 

Moving from Surviving to Thriving: How to Manage Your Stress in a Healthy Way

Even Superman struggled at times with Kryptonite. However, he found ways to adapt and overcome those challenges, and so can you. While an accreditation site visit always leads to a certain level of stress, there are things you can do to minimize the anxiety. For example:

Prepare ahead of time: It may sound simplistic, but getting a jumpstart on the process reduces a lot of stress. If you don’t start on the process until 6 or 8 months before the site visit, you are putting yourself squarely in the crosshairs of some serious stress and anxiety.

Ideally, quality assurance should be an integral part of every program. There really shouldn’t be any significant scrambling or looking for data. Your institution should already be reviewing, analyzing, looking for trends, and making data-driven decisions to improve programs on a continual basis. You should plan on starting your self-study report (SSR) no later than 18 months prior to a scheduled site visit. The more you delay this timetable, the higher your stress level will be. Guaranteed.

Hire a consultant: Let’s face it–not everyone has a lot of expertise when it comes to writing self-study reports, gathering evidence, and preparing for site visits. In many institutions, departments are understaffed and often wear multiple hats of responsibility. Most institutions don’t have to deal with accreditation matters on a regular basis. Therefore few have a high level of confidence in that area.

In some schools, new faculty coordinate a site visit because more seasoned faculty refuse to do it. This is wrong on so many levels, and yet it’s a frequent occurrence. An experienced consultant could provide the kind of guidance and support that may be needed. The institution doesn’t incur the expense of paying for someone’s full-time salary, benefits, or office space. In this age of budget cuts, hiring an independent contractor can actually save money.

Provide faculty/staff training: Letting others know what to expect and getting them on board early on will greatly reduce anxiety for everyone. Plan a kickoff event, and then schedule periodic retreats/advances. Create a solid communication protocol and stick with it. When team members are fully informed and are active contributors to the process, the stress is reduced for everyone.

Delegate to others as much as possible: It’s important to have a project manager/coordinator for every major project, and that includes accreditation site visits. However, that does NOT mean that this one person needs to take on the bulk of the responsibility—quite the contrary. Instead, that person should serve as a “conduit” who facilitates the flow of information between internal and external stakeholders. That person should also play the primary role in delegating tasks to appropriate personnel. He or she maintains a schedule so that tasks are completed on time.

It’s OK to talk about it: Know that a certain amount of stress and anxiety are normal reactions to accreditation site visit preparation, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to talk with your colleagues and leadership about your stress level. It’s entirely possible that others share your feelings—it might be helpful to start a small informal support group. Getting together one day a week for lunch works wonders.

Be upfront with your friends and loved ones:  Prepare family and friends ahead of time. Help them to know what to expect. Include them in the celebration once it’s over. Your children, significant other, and close friends may not be writing the self-study report or creating pieces of evidence. Your support system also plays an important role in the site review process behind the scenes.

Be kind to yourself: This may sound silly but it’s really important. Purposely build one nice thing into your personal calendar each day. It may be taking a walk, working out, or reading for pleasure for 30 minutes. Regardless what you choose, it’s crucial that you make this a part of your schedule.

Be ready when it’s over:  You may find that you can hold yourself together from start to finish, but then after the site review team packs up and leaves your institution you have a feeling of not quite knowing what to do with yourself. What you’ve focused all your energy on for 18 months is suddenly over. This can result in your emotions taking a deep dive—and it can last for several weeks.

You can greatly reduce this by planning a combination of fun activities and work activities for your next four weeks after the site visit. You’ve been functioning within a very structured paradigm for several months. However, if you suddenly have nothing to do it will likely lead to additional anxiety so it’s best to transition back slowly.

The bottom line is that while accreditation stress is definitely real, it doesn’t have to get the best of you or your team.

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit:  Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

 

 

 

National Teacher Shortage Needs a National Response

national teacher shortage

It’s no secret that there’s a national teacher shortage. Qualified educators are in short supply across the nation. There are nearly 3.2 million teachers serving approximately 98,000 traditional public schools in our nation. Many schools experience a nationwide shortage of math, science, English language learning, and special education teachers each year.

Reasons for a National Teacher Shortage

There are several reasons why teachers are in such short supply in every state. Here are a few of the most common: 

Low Pay, Lack of Respect

Many individuals find out early on that they can major in another field and have a lot more earning power throughout their career. Their starting salary is better, and there are more opportunities for advancement. The average salary of elementary and secondary public school teachers from 1969-2019 was about $61,000. New York teachers are paid the highest average salary ($86,000), while those in Mississippi earn the least ($45,574). When asked in a recent Teacher and Principal Survey, nearly 35% either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “If I could get a higher paying job I’d leave teaching as soon as possible.” That’s an alarming statistic.

In addition, those in the teaching profession simply aren’t afforded the same level of respect as in other industries. In some cases, society views teachers as little more than cheaper options for childcare. When asked in that same survey about stress and disappointments they experience within their schools, nearly 28% of teachers agreed or strongly agreed that the stress and disappointments just weren’t worth it. 

Now, does that mean that all those teachers will leave the classroom for good? It’s unlikely. But even losing 10% could make class sizes even larger and significantly impact student learning. 

 

An Aging Workforce

We have an aging workforce in our schools. The average age of public school teachers nationally is 42.6, with more than half ranging in age from 30-49. Depending on the retirement structure in their state, some teachers will remain in the classroom until 65, while in a few states they can retire in their 40s. Teaching is like most other professions: Those who love what they do will continue to work, while those who don’t will look for the nearest exit door.

Some school districts have opted to offer “early out” incentives to cut costs. That makes sense from an economic perspective. However, when seasoned teachers leave they’re often replaced by inexperienced teachers fresh out of college. To some that might sound appealing, given the increasing emphasis on technology and the perception that younger teachers possess greater skill in that area this sometimes is a misnomer. Youth doesn’t ensure competence in technology; knowledge and skill do.

In addition, veteran teachers have an impact on much more than their own classroom. They lead curriculum committees and make important decisions about textbook adoption. They serve as mentors for new teachers and sometimes, even for new building principals. Over the years they have amassed a tool chest of instructional methods that are effective with students in that community. Their loss is felt throughout an entire school. 

 

COVID’s Exacerbating the National Teacher Shortage

We know that COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives. It’s also impacting our nation’s teachers and thus, our nation’s students. Some teachers have been infected while others are fearful of bringing the virus home to their families. Those who are able to report to school onsite feel overwhelmed by the extra pressures placed upon them, and the additional responsibility for ensuring students wear masks, wash their hands regularly, social distance, and the like. In a recent survey of 140 school superintendents in Colorado, one summed it by saying: 

“Our teachers and staff are stretched thin, and we can’t offer them any relief,” one superintendent in northwest Colorado wrote. “We don’t have enough subs, and I fear we will begin to lose teachers and other staff. The emotional stress our teachers and especially our leaders are under is vast, and I don’t know how long we can endure.” 

 

How to Tackle the National Teacher Shortage

We are all interested in making sure each student has a qualified teacher in their classroom. Think tanks such as the Learning Policy Institute are compiling research and data that states can use to address the problem within their own borders. 

Loosen Requirements

Several state departments of education have decided to loosen the requirements to become a teacher. For example, Missouri recently decided to eliminate the cumulative GPA requirement from all teacher certification rules. Other states have decided to no longer require an individual to pass a content exam before admitting them into a teacher preparation program. 

Simply loosening or eliminating requirements may increase teacher supply, but the impact it could have on student learning is sobering.  

 

Grow Your Own Teachers

Some school districts are turning to area residents who may already work as a paraprofessional or substitute teacher. These individuals have already earned several college credits but haven’t yet completed state certification requirements. Building principals frequently encourage these individuals to complete those requirements, sometimes even finding scholarship funds within the community or at a local university. These “Grow Your Own” models enable school principals to staff classrooms with individuals who have strong roots within the local community. Frequently, their own children are enrolled in the district. Those are individuals who aren’t likely to leave. 

California education officials have implemented an initiative approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing that focuses on growing the number of qualified mathematics teachers. At the district level, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is shoring up its supply of special education and other hard-to-find teachers through its STEP UP and Teach program. The program provides mentoring as well as financial support to qualified candidates. These candidates may already employed in the district as paraprofessional and who have strong ties to the local community.

This “grow your own” approach is similar in many ways to other nationwide efforts such as the Kansas City Teacher Residency project. It’s based on the premise that novice teachers learn best under the careful mentoring of experienced educators. It’s also competency-based in many respects, because teacher candidates must demonstrate what they know and are able to do on a daily basis. 

 

A National Solution Needed

The national teacher shortage will only get worse unless we collectively get serious and implement data-informed initiatives. The federal government should drive these efforts. States can then implement them. Our new Education Secretary Nominee Miguel Cardona has extensive experience at the P-12 level and understands the crisis facing our schools. He needs to form a blue-ribbon panel to tackle this problem. That group should develop a blueprint for how the federal government and states can partner to find workable, effective solutions. 

A national problem such as a shortage of qualified educators requires a national response. 

 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit: CDC on Unsplash

 

ACICS: It’s Time to Pull the Plug

ACICS

Update: The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) provides recommendations regarding accrediting agencies that monitor the academic quality of postsecondary institutions and educational programs for federal purposes. NACIQI will review ACICS at its virtual meeting on March 4.

The Pressure to Boost Enrollment

Within the highly competitive market of student admissions, college and university enrollment counselors point out all the reasons why students should choose their institution. Most claims are usually truthful. But sometimes enrollment counselors bend the truth a bit, leave out important details, or just flat out lie. This is done in an effort to meet monthly enrollment quotas intended to fill classrooms (virtual or in-person). More students means increased revenue, typically through federal financial aid. 

While we occasionally see this within traditional academia, the vast majority of unscrupulous enrollment practices take place in for-profit institutions that were created for one sole purpose: To make money. 

Unsuspecting students, many of whom may be the first in their family to ever go to college, put their trust in these enrollment counselors. They work two and three jobs to scrape up enough money for textbooks or childcare. Often encouraged by admissions or financial aid counselors, they borrow the maximum amount they can in federal student loans. These students work hard and dream of getting a good job when they graduate so they can make a better life for themselves and their loved ones. 

Far too often, we’ve seen those dreams shattered because those institutions failed to operate with integrity. Failed to tell the truth. Failed their students, and left them hanging with tens of thousands of dollars in debt with nothing to show for it. 

Even more tragically, those institutions were allowed to take advantage of their students by the very ones who were supposed to make sure they were doing the right thing: Accrediting bodies. 

 

Quality Assurance Watchdogs

Accrediting bodies were formed in the United States to serve as quality assurance watchdogs. Their role is to ensure that higher education institutions operate with integrity. For example, they should be financially stable. They should hire qualified faculty members. And, they should provide high-quality programs that help students get a job when they graduate. One such accrediting body is the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). 

Founded in 1912, ACICS was first recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) back in 1956. It’s authorized to accredit private postsecondary institutions that offer certificates or diplomas. In addition, ACICS reviews postsecondary institutions offering associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees in programs designed to educate students for professional, technical, or occupational careers, including those that offer those programs via distance education.

 

Where ACICS Operates

ACICS has a worldwide presence. In addition to operating across the United States, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Island, the organization also accredits institutions in Antigua and Barbuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Peru, Spain, and Taiwan. 

 

Profile of Institutions and Programs Accredited by ACICS 

Currently, the body has an active membership of 85 institutions, with 80% of them being run by for-profit corporations. Several are operated by the same company but are accredited separately as different branches or campuses. 

Right now, ACICS has its stamp of approval on a total of 623 programs across the 85 institutions it has accredited. For those who complete those programs, we see the following breakdown:

 

Credential Level
Number of Programs Accredited by ACICS
Program Examples
Certificate of Completion or Diploma

166

  • Cardiovascular Technologist
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse
  • Security and Investigation
  • Personal Trainer
  • Professional Pilot
  • English as a Second Language
  • Patient Care Technician
  • Massage Therapy
  • Practical Nursing 
  • Internet Site Development
  • Ophthalmic Technology
Occupational Associate’s Degree

43

  • Information Technology
  • Paralegal
  • Medical Assistant
  • Biotechnology
  • Electrical Technology with Technical Drawing in Computers
  • Dental Assistant with Expanded Duties
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • Surgical Technology
Academic Associate’s Degree

128

  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Surgical Technician
  • Nursing
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • International Business
  • Pre-School Education
  • Mental Health and Human Services
  • Massage and Spa Operations
  • Funeral Service
  • Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Heating Technology
  • Muscle Activation Techniques
  • Solar-Sustainable Energy Specialist
  • Assistance Dog Education
Bachelor’s Degree

148

  • Patient Care Technician
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • RN-BSN Bridge
  • Trust and Wealth Management
  • International Relations and Diplomacy
  • Digital Business
  • International Economics
  • Global Management
  • Japanese Studies
  • Fashion Imaging
  • Chinese Literature
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Diagnostic Cardiovascular Sonography
  • Muscle Activation Techniques
Master’s Degree

138

  • Big Data Analytics
  • Human-Canine Life Sciences
  • Aviation Science
  • Inter-American Defense & Security
  • Digital Master in Business Administration
  • Master in Internet Business
  • Global Finance
  • Chinese Literature
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Education
  • Nursing
  • Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
  • Nursing with Specialty in Critical Care

 

As part of its program review protocol, ACICS takes a close look at multiple metrics. When a program or institution doesn’t meet benchmark standards, it receives the equivalent of a warning. Subsequently, they are given a specified time to make the necessary improvements. In more serious instances, the organization sends institutions a formal Compliance Warning or Show Cause letter. 

 

Compliance Warnings

A Compliance Warning action is taken when the Council determines that an institution or campus is not in compliance with the Accreditation Criteria but is able to bring itself into compliance within the time frame specified by the Council. In 2020, ACICS issued Compliance Warnings to eight institutions. It’s already issued one Warning this year. 

Most of the reasons focus on Student Achievement or Quality Assurance. Frequently, warnings were issued for incomplete data. In some cases, institutions provided incomplete faculty information about qualifications. In other cases, there are low graduation rates or low employment placement rates after program completion. The ACICS benchmark for student retention and employment placement post-graduation is 60%. In some cases, placement rates are 54%, 17%, and even 0%. As a result, many students are finding it extremely difficult to get a job once they graduate. 

 

Show Cause Letters

ACICS sent Show Cause letters to five of its member institutions in 2020. A Show Cause letter formally lets institutional administrators know that the institution is very close to having their accreditation withdrawn; they are instructed to provide evidence or “show cause” as to why the institution should be allowed to continue its operations. Four of the five Show Cause letters focused on student achievement. In each case, student retention rates and employment placement rates were abysmal.

The last Show Cause letter revealed that ACICS had learned the institution had launched a Doctor of Business Administration program without receiving prior approval. Even worse, the program had already enrolled 23 students. If allowed to continue, those graduates would likely find a difficult time advancing their career with a doctorate from an unaccredited program. Or, if chose to transfer to another institution, it’s almost a guarantee that none of the courses completed from an unaccredited program would be accepted for transfer.  

 

Often Too Little Oversight, Too Late

As I wrote in The Dominoes That Didn’t Have to Fall: Vatterott College, the ECA, and Others Like Them in early 2019, ACICS has become the go-to accrediting body for institutions that want a seal of approval quickly. Most are for-profits. Many don’t want to do the work to go through a rigorous program review process. They know that they need to be accredited in order to boost enrollment and in many cases, receive federal student financial aid. Word travels quickly through a network of unscrupulous investors which accrediting bodies are the easiest way to get from A to B. 

In 2018, 37 ACICS-accredited institutions shut their doors. By 2019, it was 13 and in 2020, the number was four. Each of those now-defunct for-profit institutions operated multiple programs of study, with each having multiple students enrolled. The amount of money in federal financial aid sent to those institutions is staggering. Even worse, just think of how many thousands of students and their families have been devastated because ACICS failed to do their job as an accrediting body. 

It’s Time to Finally Pull the Plug on ACICS

It’s past time for the US Department of Education to pull the plug on ACICS. Given their track record over many years, it’s obvious the organization simply isn’t up to the task of ensuring program quality. Above all else, accrediting bodies are in place to protect students from unscrupulous companies that don’t think twice about taking their money.  Those predatory for-profits lead students on and then send them on their way with a certificate or degree that often isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Or, they shutter their doors without notice, leaving unsuspecting students in a lurch with no idea what to do next. 

President Obama made the decision to derecognize and strip ACICS of its power back in 2016. At that time, the organization was the gatekeeper to $4.76 billion in 2015 federal aid payments to more than 245 career-oriented colleges. 

However, Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration refused to do the right thing by students. Instead, they chose to reinstate ACICS as a recognized accrediting body. As a result, ACICS continued to approve programs that couldn’t be accredited by another body. In one case, reporters discovered that one institution given the ACICS stamp of approval in 2017 wasn’t even actually a functioning university. In another case, there weren’t actually any faculty on staff. 

Nonetheless, it’s now up to the Biden administration to clean up the mess, once and for all. In a recent staff report, senior US Department of Education officials recommended terminating ACICS’ recognition as an accrediting body. Based on solicited third-party comments, those who care about higher education quality are elated. 

The Department of Education should shut down ACICS for good. In addition, it should take steps that ensure that this type of incompetence never happens again. 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit:  Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Competency-Based Education

Competency-Based Education

The competency-based education (CBE) model can be a great, innovative way to teach adult learners at the community college or university level, but it can also be quite appropriate for youngsters at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Here are a few basic tenets of CBE to consider:

Competency-based education isn’t an easy way to learn or to earn a college degree.

Instead, it’s a different way to learn. Rather than just sitting in a class and earning attendance points, learners really have to demonstrate what they know and are able to do through a variety of high-quality assessments.

True competency-based education is standards-based education.

A house must have a solid foundation in order to stand over time. Likewise, curriculum must be based on standards, and from those standards, competencies, learning objectives, and assessments are developed. As industry standards change, so must a competency-based curriculum evolve to ensure relevancy and currency.

Competency-based education is carefully planned and developed.

It is not a simple matter to create or switch to a competency-based educational model. It requires a great deal of thought, planning, training, and a commitment to various resources. Simply put, it’s not realistic for an institution to believe this can be created by one or two faculty members given extra teaching load pay over a semester or two. It requires systemic commitment and long-range strategic planning.

The curriculum found in a high-quality competency-based educational program comprises both breadth and depth.

A solid curriculum must be standards-based. In addition, a CBE curriculum can’t just “cover” certain key concepts and principles—this approach will not lead to deep, sustained learning. Instead, major content must be identified and embedded multiple times within signature learning experiences; they must be scaffolded throughout a program of study at increasing levels of complexity. Learners must be given multiple opportunities to understand and apply what they are learning in various contexts.

Self-paced learning is a cornerstone of the CBE model.

Rote memorization has been debunked by many over the years as an ineffective way to learn. Likewise, educators now acknowledge that lockstep teaching and learning does not meet the needs of individuals. An age-old approach known as “Teach to the Middle” is still often the norm in environments where class size is excessive and teachers need to work as efficiently as possible simply to manage their classrooms. However, this approach neglects the needs of students who are struggling, and it neglects the needs of students who have already mastered those skills and are ready to move on.

One of the most beautiful aspects of competency-based education is that it is based on a self-paced learner model: Students work at their own pace, taking as much or as little time as they need to understand, apply, and demonstrate their proficiency in the stated competencies and learning objectives. Learners are less frustrated; they feel empowered and more in control of their own progress.

The competency-based model lends itself well to online learning.

CBE certainly can work well in traditional face-to-face learning environments. However, it can work equally well in distance learning models. There are different nuances to consider in the planning stage, but CBE is adaptable to all learning environments.

What’s important is the strength of the curriculum, the learning resources, the quality of instruction, and the support given to learners. If the curriculum can be seen as the foundation of the house, then the other instructional elements can be viewed as the walls supporting the structure.

The quality of a competency-based program is heavily reliant upon the quality of its assessments.

In a competency-based model, learners demonstrate what they know and are able to do relative to specific learning objectives. They demonstrate this through a variety of high-quality assessments, frequently in the form of internally-created objective examinations, performance assessments, field-based assessments, and proprietary assessments.

If the curriculum is the home’s foundation, and the walls are comprised of learning resources, instructional quality, and learner support, assessments represent the roof. There must be direct alignment between what learners are taught and how their knowledge is measured.

Continuous, critical review of assessment data is essential.

Many educators throw around the term “data-driven” decision making these days, but few really understand what it means. A comprehensive assessment plan is essential to any institution, regardless whether it adheres to a competency-based educational model or not. There are many steps that need to be taken to ensure the quality, integrity, and continual improvement of the ways in which learner proficiency is measured.

The bottom line: It’s all about efficacy.

Regardless of the educational model being implemented, the strength of a program actually can best be determined by the sustained impact on the lives of learners. For example, are high school graduates accepted into college? Can someone with a CBE diploma or degree land a job of their choice?

Competency-based education is not just about learning in the moment; it’s about learning for a lifetime to serve the greater good.

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

 

Top Graphic Credit: Edvin Johansson on Unsplash

 

Education: One Key to Keeping Dr. King’s Dream Alive

King

As we observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, most people think of his famous I Have a Dream speech, and well they should. It was brilliant, inspiring, and timeless. But part of Dr. King’s dream also recognized the importance of education, believing that an educated society is a key not only to freedom, but to advancement–for all Americans. At the tender age of 18 he wrote about what he called a “true” education:

Dr. King's Dream

The strength of our nation depends on an educated society—a society whose citizens are intellectually curious and who possess the ability to read and think critically.  A truly educated society, however, must also exercise good character and integrity.

Character Matters

Dr. King recognized that simply having a strong command of subject matter doesn’t serve the common good. A mind can be filled with facts and information. However, unless knowledge is coupled with a genuine desire to help others, that knowledge does little good. In fact, it can be quite the opposite:

Dr. King's Dream

 

Keeping Dr. King’s Dream Alive through Education

Entire books could be written about how we can activate Dr. King’s instruction on education. However, here are a few things teachers, parents, students, and community members can do to keep his dream alive:

  • Let’s use our knowledge to positively impact the lives of others–to serve the greater good.
  • We must help our youth to build a solid core of ethics and integrity—an inner compass.
  • Do the right thing even when no one else is looking.

The list of things we as a society can do is endless. It may feel overwhelming, but the important thing is to start somewhere. Start small, and start today. Together, on this special day of remembrance, we can keep Dr. King’s dream alive.

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit: WordPress

Comprehensive Student Mentoring

mentoring

Because of COVID, higher education institutions are facing huge financial challenges. Many students have cut way back on the number of credit hours that they’ve taken in the past, while many more have decided to put college on hold for now. There are very few college and university presidents who haven’t lost more than a few nights’ sleep over how they’re going to continue to pay for faculty, staff, and programs when Full Time Enrollment (FTE) numbers have dropped significantly. 

 

Open Door Policy Can Lead to a Revolving Door Student Body

In order to keep the doors open, some institutions have tried creative ways to boost enrollment. One common way is to move to an open-enrollment model. Essentially, institutions are laying aside many of their traditional admission requirements in order to make it easier for new students to gain entry. Examples include passing entrance exams such as the ACT or SAT as well as high school GPA of at least 2.0. 

This decision can be effective from a recruitment and enrollment perspective because it can give enrollment a “shot in the arm” when an institution needs it most. The upside is that employee furloughs or layoffs are reduced and in some cases even eliminated, and programs don’t have to be cut. However, the consequence is that those institutions admitted a sizable number of students who were not equipped for success. 

Anecdotally, professors report decreased student participation–particularly in their online courses. In addition, the quality of work being submitted is noticeably lower than in previous semesters. When students aren’t actively engaging in their classes or perhaps not even logging in for days or weeks at a time, they likely aren’t going to be successful at the end of the semester. Subsequently, students who fail courses don’t continue to receive federal financial aid for very long. That means they aren’t able to pay for college and thus drop out, likely never to return. 

 

Struggling Students Also Cause Institutional Challenges

Not only does this have a devastating impact on those students’ lives, but it also has long term effects on those colleges and universities that enrolled them. In order to maintain their accreditation and thus be able to receive federal financial aid, colleges and universities must collect data on metrics such as satisfactory academic progress, retention, persistence to graduation, and student satisfaction.

When institutions adopt an “open enrollment” policy that lasts more than a semester or two, it can have a lasting impact on those metrics. Consequently, when it comes time for an institution’s annual reports or next accreditation site visit, the damage caused by temporary stop-gap policies can potentially be devastating. 

 

One Solution: Comprehensive Mentoring

I recently recommended to one university that they should consider adopting a comprehensive mentoring program to support students who aren’t able to demonstrate a propensity for success upon admission. 

When they hear the term mentoring many people think it’s the same as academic advising. That’s simply not the case. I look at a comprehensive mentoring program to be academic advising on steroids: It must contain that important traditional academic advising piece, but it adds an important layer of support that helps students in a variety of other ways. For example, trained mentors can help students: 

  • Stay on pace and complete their coursework on time
  • Navigate through the institution’s various departments or bureaucracy
  • Locate social, economic, or emotional support resources
  • Achieve their academic goals and attain success

Just having a strong mentoring program in place doesn’t mean all students will succeed in school. But it’s important for institutions to be able to quickly identify at-risk students and provide them with the kind of support they need. These safety nets can come in many forms, including remediation and intervention. To the greatest extent possible though, I believe a proactive support model is far better than waiting until a student is struggling to reach out to them. 

 

Four Essential Mentoring Components

I just finished reading Dr. Jill Biden’s doctoral dissertation on Student Retention. Those who really know me should not be surprised to read that this brings me joy and I considered it “pleasure” reading! While it’s a bit light on statistical methodology and there are a few APA errors (my eyes always seem to land on them), the dissertation is very well written. The biggest takeaway is that relative to her conclusions, SHE IS RIGHT. While Bidens’ research focuses on the community college level, her recommendations are equally appropriate for four-year institutions. A recent article the Chronicle for Higher Education encapsulated Biden’s findings into four major categories: 

  • Deep Advising Relationships: The old saying is true – people remember how you make them feel. It takes both time and effort to build a relationship based on trust and mutual respect, but this is a crucial aspect of an effective mentoring program. 
  • Faculty Mentoring Programs: As I previously stated, a comprehensive mentoring program involves a whole lot more than just traditional academic advising with a staff member. There’s an important role that faculty can and should play. It’s also important to remember that all mentors need their own training and support in order to help students attain success. 
  • Mental Health Services: Even under the best of circumstances, many college students struggle adjusting to a new environment, developing into adulthood, and making good personal choices. However, starting college during a pandemic amplifies student stress exponentially. Having the support of caring, competent mentors can help. 
  • More Deliberate Thought to Student Pathways: At the P-12 level, teachers devote considerable attention to setting students up for success through appropriate curriculum, instructional methods, and assessments. Higher education is still in its infancy with regard to designing programs that are relevant, meaningful, and appropriate for student success. Historically, the approach has been to demand that students conform to an existing program model. As a result, we see high numbers of students who struggle and often drop out. We as an educational community need to greatly advance our thinking in this area. 

 

Tracking Student Success is Essential to Effective Mentoring

Once an institution admits a student, it then takes on the responsibility for that student’s academic success. As I have tried to emphasize above, a comprehensive mentoring program can provide the kind of support at-risk students need to help them experience success and achieve their goals. However, just putting those four major components that Biden recommends in place doesn’t guarantee that students will be successful. In order to know for sure, we must have a way to track their success. That requires quality data. 

In his commentary about using data to support student success in a competency-based education (CBE) model, Kurt Gunnell detailed his institution’s data-driven approach to carefully tracking student success. Western Governors University is not only a CBE institution; it’s also completely online. It’s one of the nation’s largest universities with more than 120,000 students, many of whom are first-generation college students or come from under-represented populations. While recruitment and enrollment aren’t challenges for WGU, faculty and staff work very hard to retain those students and support them from the point of admission to graduation. WGU can tout a first to second year retention rate of 86% for first-time, full-time students. That’s impressive, and it’s due in no small part to the institution’s mentoring program. But a successful mentoring program doesn’t just happen organically. It depends on an effective way to identify at-risk students, track their progress, and measure the impact of various types of support. Gunnell’s commentary details his institution’s new data tracking model. 

 

The Time is Right to Consider Mentoring

As higher education professionals, we know that some students will always struggle more than others. Adopting a “sink or swim” policy has never been a good idea, but until recently many have given little thought to metrics such as student retention and persistence to graduation. Perhaps in this Age of COVID, at a time when colleges and universities are being forced to reexamine what they can do to adapt and survive, it would be a good idea to give serious consideration to a comprehensive mentoring program. 

 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit: Clay Banks on Unsplash

 

Teacher Shortage: Grow Your Own

Teacher Shortage

Across our nation, school superintendents and building principals continue to experience a nationwide teacher shortage in areas such as math, science, English language learning, and special education. It will only get worse unless state department of education officials are willing to pilot innovative ideas.

Teaching is a demanding profession and the classroom can be a tough place to be. Gone are the days when individuals go into teaching just to “have something to fall back on” and to work the same hours as their children. As a result of increasing demands placed on teachers, low pay, long hours, and little respect, teachers are leaving the profession in droves and are choosing a different career path. Moreover, decreasing enrollment in university teacher preparation programs confirms that fewer men and women are even considering entering the teaching field. So, how can school district officials make sure there is a highly-qualified, caring, and competent teacher in every classroom?

 

Tackling the Teacher Shortage through “Grow Your Own” Programs

 

California’s STEP UP and Teach Program

California education officials recognize this critical teacher shortage, and they are committed to finding a solution.  One initiative approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) focuses on increasing the number of qualified mathematics teachers. At the district level, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is trying to increase its supply of special education and other hard-to-find teachers through its STEP UP and Teach program. This program provides mentoring as well as financial support to qualified candidates, often those who are already employed in the district as paraprofessionals and who have strong ties to the local community.

Paraprofessionals work with students either individually or in small groups under the supervision of licensed teachers. They may provide some tutoring in math or reading. They may help a special needs student get from one class to another throughout the day. Some paraprofessionals may work in before-school or after-school programs. They typically have earned at least 60 college credits toward a bachelor’s degree. Paraprofessionals often make the best teachers, because they are typically mature adults and often parents of students in the school or district. They are able to build experience and confidence in their teaching skills.

In California’s STEP UP and Teach program, principals are able to observe paraprofessionals working directly in the school throughout the year, which makes them known commodities as positions open up.

 

Kansas City Teacher Residency (KCTR) Program

Another “grow your own” approach is the Kansas City Teacher Residency (KCTR) program. The program is based on the premise that teachers are best trained on-site. Moreover, KCTR interns practice under the careful mentoring of experienced teachers in real-life situations. It’s also competency-based in many respects, because pre-service teachers must demonstrate what they know and are able to do on a daily basis and they have regular opportunities to improve their skills.

 

New Mexico “Grow Your Own Teachers Act”

The state of New Mexico is funding its own program designed to address teacher supply and demand challenges. The “Grow Your Own Teachers Act” seeks to provide opportunities for paraprofessionals (educational assistants) to pursue careers in teaching in New Mexico. The Act provides scholarships to attend a public university in New Mexico to earn a bachelor’s degree in education.

 

Minnesota’s GYO Grant Program

Likewise, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has recently released the details for its Grow Your Own teacher grant program. This program is unique because it provides two funding pathways. Pathway 1 is for paraprofessionals who have made the decision to complete their bachelor’s degree and earn their teacher licensure. Pathway 2 is for high school students who want to explore teaching as a possible career choice.

 

Are Grow Your Own Programs the Answer?

Which of these Grow Your Own programs is most effective at meeting teacher supply and demand challenges across our nation? The verdict’s still out.  School district officials may be able to recruit and hire teachers more easily. However, until we raise salaries and elevate respect for the teaching profession, it’s likely we’ll continue to have a national teacher shortage.

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

Top Graphic Credit: iup.edu

 

Competency-Based Education: Curriculum

Competency-Based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) is gaining traction in K-12 schools and higher education institutions across the United States, but it’s a very different way of approaching teaching and learning. Educators need to be aware of that before they commit to the CBE model. 

What is Competency-Based Education? 

Before we can understand what competency-based education is, it’s important to know what it isn’t: 

Competency-Based Education

Seat Time vs. Proficiency

Students attend class for a specified length of time in a traditional time-based model. In most K-12 schools it’s an academic year. In most colleges or universities, it’s for a semester lasting 15 weeks. Students attend class, participate and complete their assignments, and earn grades. At the end of that term, they receive a final grade and move on to the next grade level or next course. It’s very different with competency-based education. 

First, because students learn at different rates, seat time has very little relevance. Some can grasp material very quickly and are ready to move on, while others need more time to learn at their own pace. 

Second, competency-based education requires students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do. Learners earn credit and move on when they have shown they’re proficient in clearly defined competencies. Students demonstrate what they know through assessments. These assessments are closely aligned to learning objectives. 

Major Pillars of Competency-Based Education

There are six major pillars that anchor a solid competency-based education program:

  • Curriculum
  • Instruction
  • Assessment
  • Faculty Training & Support
  • Student Orientation & Support
  • Parent/Caregiver Orientation & Support (for P-12 Schools)

Educators must plan for all six of these pillars when building a competency-based education program. If not, student learning will suffer and as a result, school officials will likely abandon the model before really giving it a chance to succeed. 

 

Curriculum Basics in Competency-Based Education

There’s a reason why curriculum is the first pillar of CBE: It serves as its foundation or core, and it drives every other aspect of the model. Curriculum is the “what” of education. It’s what we want students to know—sometimes referred to as their knowledge base, their content knowledge, or their scope of learning. 

We have learned over the years that curriculum should be standards-based in order to provide students with a coherent, cohesive, and sequential body of content over time. However, not all states use the same standards. 

Elementary and Secondary Curriculum Standards

Some standards commonly used by P-12 schools include:

 Higher Education Standards

Colleges and universities typically rely on state-specific content standards or specialty professional association (SPA) standards such as those from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for science teachers, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) standards for nurses, or other industry-specific standards such as the Microsoft Technical Certification standards.

 

First, the Standards. Then, the Competencies. 

After selecting the standards, educator develop the competencies. Similar to learning objectives, these competencies clearly define what students should know or learn and what we want them to be able to do with that knowledge. Competencies must be specific enough to be measurable. 

 

Competencies are the cornerstone of the entire curriculum ultimately. It’s important to get them right. 

 

Educators must first make sure that the curriculum is solid before moving on to the next pillar, that of instruction. In other words, it’s similar to building a new house: A contractor must take great care in laying the foundation, because the success of everything else depends on it. 

 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

 

Top Graphic Credit:  education.ky.gov 

One-Room Schools May Be What We Need Today

One-Room Schools

I’ve always been fascinated by the old one-room schools. I think it all started when my younger sister and I would walk up our country road and play for hours on the site of an old school, long since abandoned. That school must have educated every boy and girl for miles around, and those children grew up to be postal carriers, soldiers, bankers, farmers, and teachers.

One-Room Schools Help Students Apply What They’ve Learned

In that school and others like it, students from multiple age groups and grade levels worked and learned together. In many instances, older students taught younger ones, with the teacher providing guidance as needed. Classics frequently served in the place of textbooks, and students applied what they were learning in the context of what was relevant to their lives. They developed a body of knowledge, but even more importantly, they learned how to apply that knowledge to solve problems.

It was a simpler time, and yet many of the methods found in those one-room schools were ahead of their time. Today we often hear about new techniques and methods for helping students learn. We talk about concepts such as competency-based, proficiency-based, and personalized learning.

The Birthplace of Competency-Based Education

As an extension of the home school environment, one-room schools were the birthplace of competency-based education. And the new performance assessments that are gaining so much attention? Students in one-room schools had to demonstrate what they knew through projects. For example, students planted an herb garden appropriate for local soil. They raised goats for meat and dairy and made apple butter. Students built a machine shed that could stand up to wind while others demonstrated first aid techniques. 

Like the competency-based educational model, Simousek points out that most one-room schools adhered to the “time is variable/learning is constant” mantra, whereby learners worked until they could successfully demonstrate their proficiency before moving on. In other words, what students learn is more important than how quickly they learn it.

 

One-Room Schools in the US Today

There are actually still a few hundred one-room schools in the United States today. Many are located in very rural and remote areas. However, educators in Gainsville, Florida started a charter school in 1997 specifically with the one-room school model in mind. Focusing on meeting the needs of high achievers, the One Room School House Project (ORSH) serves students through eighth grade. In addition, some modern-day homeschools are perfect venues for the one-room schoolhouse model.

Recognizing the benefits of larger schools today, we should consider the advantages of smaller schools designed around the one-room schoolhouse model. Even in our fast-paced, mobile society, we still need schools that serve as community anchors. In times of crisis such as the one we are currently experiencing with COVID-19, a return back to a simpler structure such as one-room schools may be worth a second look. 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

             

 

Top Graphic Credit: Pixabay

 

The Time Has Come for Competency-Based Education.

Competency-Based Education

Due to COVID-19, education in the United States has been turned on its ear, and it may be time to seriously consider the competency-based education model for K-12 and collegiate levels. For example: 

  • Students, parents, and school officials have endured sudden school closures as well as a mad scramble to convert to online learning platforms. 
  • Most states have opted to cancel high-stakes K-12 achievement tests. 
  • Several colleges are eliminating the ACT or SAT requirement for entrance in the fall. 
  • Some state departments of education are temporarily forgiving student teaching and licensure examination requirements for pre-service teachers who are slated to graduate from college this year so they can land jobs in the fall as fully certified teachers. 
  • Several schools have decided not to award letter grades of D or F but opted instead for a Credit or No Credit scale. 

Fall 2020 Faces Uncertainty

Higher education institutions such as the University of California and Harvard have already stated they likely won’t reopen the doors in the fall, with many more to decide after June 1. At the K-12 level, school district officials will strive to hold classes onsite, but the reality is that we simply don’t know what the 2020-2021 school year will look like, or for any school years in the near future for that matter. 

Status Quo No Longer Fits

Educators have structured our American way of learning to fit a time-based model. By and large, students attend classes, make passing grades, and then they move on. With a few exceptions, everyone in a class moves forward together at the same pace. Because of COVID-19, educators need to re-think how students learn and how their learning should be measured. The competency-based educational model is worth serious consideration. 

Competency-Based Education: Not Easier, Just Different

Competency-based education isn’t an easier way to learn or to earn a college degree–it’s just different. Rather than just sitting in a class and earning attendance points, learners really have to demonstrate what they know and are able to do through high-quality assessments. That approach doesn’t water-down expectations–in fact, it’s quite the opposite. 

Carefully Built on Solid Curriculum

Competency-based education is standards-based education. A house must have a solid foundation in order to stand over time. Likewise, curriculum must be based on standards. From those standards educators create competencies, learning objectives, and assessments. As industry standards change, school faculty must ensure relevancy and currency.

Competency-based education is carefully planned and developed. It is not a simple matter of schools deciding on a whim to switch to a CBE model. Faculty, administrators, and curriculum directors must give a great deal of thought and planning to the process. Simply put, it is not realistic for administrators to believe one or two faculty members can tackle a project of this magnitude. It requires systemic commitment and long-range strategic planning.

Self-Paced Learning is Essential Right Now

Self-paced learning is a cornerstone of the CBE model. Educators now acknowledge that lockstep teaching and learning does not meet the needs of individuals. This approach neglects the needs of students who are struggling, and it neglects the needs of students who have already mastered those skills and are ready to move on. One of the best aspects of competency-based education is that it is based on a self-paced learner model: Students work at their own pace, taking as much or as little time as they need to understand, apply, and demonstrate their proficiency in the stated competencies and learning objectives. Learners are less frustrated; they feel empowered and more in control of their own progress. Plus, CBE isn’t limited to a particular age group or grade level; it works equally well with elementary students as it does with those working on their doctorate. 

Competency-Based Education and Online Learning

The competency-based model lends itself well to online learning. CBE certainly can work well in traditional face-to-face learning environments. However, it can work equally well in distance learning models. There are different nuances to consider in the planning stage, but educators can build CBE to fit all learning environments. 

Assessment Quality is Paramount

The quality of a competency-based program is heavily reliant upon the quality of its assessments. In a competency-based model, learners demonstrate what they know and are able to do relative to specific learning objectives. They demonstrate this through a variety of high-quality assessments, frequently in the form of internally-created objective examinations, performance assessments, field-based assessments, and proprietary assessments. If the curriculum is the home’s foundation and instruction serves as the walls, then assessments represent the roof. 

Competency-Based Education: It’s Time to Take the Next Step. 

Competency-based education is NOT a shortcut nor an easy fix to serious school challenges during this difficult time. It’s also not a short-term solution but one that requires a long-term commitment. However, if educators design it carefully the CBE model can be a powerful way to increase student learning, achievement, and satisfaction. It’s time for them to take the next step. 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education (CBE). A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and CBE. 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

            

 

Top Graphic Credit: Annie Spratt

 

Teacher Preparation Programs Need to Step Up

Teacher Preparation

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, teacher preparation programs across the nation have been forced to scramble at breakneck speed to shift all their traditional face-to-face coursework to online learning platforms. That includes education methods courses, early field experiences, and even the culminating student teaching clinical experience. Problems are already starting to emerge. 

Teacher Preparation Varies from State to State

Each state’s department of education determines what is and isn’t acceptable practice during COVID-19. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) continues to work with state legislators to address clinical practice and other teacher licensure requirements during this challenging time; their website provides links to state departments of education that have revised their guidelines. In addition, AACTE maintains a repository of current research, best practice articles, and webinars for teacher preparation program staff. 

Some states have been more definitive than others when it comes to guidance for teacher preparation programs. For example, Missouri’s Governor Mike Parson waived the requirements of remaining culminating clinical experiences and internships for the spring 2020 semester. That means student teaching has been taken off the table. He also waived qualifying scores on exit exams, which includes the Performance Assessment (MEES or MPEA) and Content Assessment (MOCA) for candidates currently enrolled in a culminating student teaching or internship experience.

This means Missouri candidates in their last semester won’t have to complete student teaching and they won’t have to pass their culminating exit examinations required for state licensure. Upon graduation, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will simply issue teaching certificates to program completers based on the institution’s recommendation. 

California’s Commission on Teaching Credentialing (CTC), on the other hand, is holding the line on teacher licensing requirements in its state and provided specific guidance regarding clinical practice for pre-service teachers:

 

Teacher Preparation

 

A Real-Life Example: What Absolutely Must Be Avoided 

Someone recently sent me a video clip of an elementary education major who is now taking an education methods course online. Her professor assigned her to write a lesson plan and then teach it at home. She then had to record the lesson and submit the video for grading. Bless her heart—this young teacher candidate did her very best and I would award her an “A” for effort, but her “students” were her stuffed animals. She taught the lesson in her bedroom and was trying to teach those critters fractions. She broke them up into small groups and gave them a worksheet.

As she “circulated” around the room, she stopped beside each one and asked them questions or offered words of praise. Our teacher candidate then transitioned back to whole group work after her “students” had completed their worksheet. Shen then continued to demonstrate, question, redirect thinking, and conclude the lesson. Just before turning off the camera, I heard a quiet voice say to herself with a nervous laugh, “I’ve never felt so awkward.” 

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I sat in horror as I thought: What a poor way this is to train our future teachers. We know this is a crisis situation and colleges had to scramble quickly to move things online, but come on. Just imagine how ill-prepared this candidate may be for her student teaching. My heart breaks for her and for all those other young teacher candidates out there.

It’s Time to Step Up Your Game, Teacher Preparation Programs. 

While it’s still early, some institutions are already signaling that they may stay the course (pun intended) and put all their offerings online again in the fall 2020 semester. Teacher preparation program staff should be working diligently to make sure their candidates receive a quality educational experience in fall 2020 and beyond, despite COVID-19. That includes methods courses, field experiences, and even student teaching. Here’s how: 

Tap Into Your Partner Network 

Many P-12 schools are also teaching their students online right now and most educator preparation providers have formalized partnership agreements with at least one school district, and in some cases, multiple districts. This allows teacher candidates to complete their field experiences and student teaching in those schools. Why not allow teacher candidates to complete their field experiences or methods lessons online with “real” students? While it may not be ideal, this would be far better than “teaching” stuffed animals. 

Build New Partnerships

There are lots of K-12 online schools right now. Many are accredited and authorized to operate in multiple states. Teacher preparation program staff should consider partnering with some of those virtual elementary and secondary schools. If set up correctly, it could be a win-win. Teacher candidates could complete their field experiences with live students regardless of where they live. Practicing teachers could potentially become new graduate students enrolled in a master’s degree program. The teacher preparation program could offer virtual professional development webinars or online conferences. The possibilities are endless. 

It’s time to think outside the box because we don’t know what the future will hold. It just, however, can’t include teaching fractions to stuffed animals. 

 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

     

Top Graphic Credit: dillydallyfarmingdale.com

Educational Leaders Promote Academic Excellence

Educational Leaders

We know that effective educational leaders play a vital role in a school’s success. Both the academic community and the public make judgments about schools when we look at key factors including student enrollment, attendance, retention, satisfaction, and achievement. We also look at the quality of teachers, and how long those teachers stay in the school. If we pay close attention, we can spot effective educational leaders pretty quickly. 

Educational Leaders

 

The Primary Role of Educational Leaders

Most of the time, when we think of academic leaders we think about cutting edge curriculum and instructional methods. We think about a well-stocked technology lab or about the latest press release about an innovative program. However, educational educational leaders play a different primary role. 

An educational leader motivates and inspires others. He or she models research-based methods and consistently uses ethics and integrity when making decisions. A real leader consciously works to facilitate leadership development in others. In addition, true educational leaders work with faculty and other staff to create a vision for the future, develop a strategic plan, and set high but attainable expectations. 

Leadership vs. Management

There’s a difference between management and leadership. Typically, managers oversee a specific department, or a specific project. It’s the manager’s responsibility to make sure that department or that project is successful.  Managers are accountable to a leader. In the case of P-12 schools, examples of managers would be a science department chair or a technology coordinator. In higher education, managers often carry the title of department chair, online learning director, and the like. 

A leader must be an effective manager, but from a macro level. A leader is the point person to drive the institution’s vision, mission, and strategic goals. He or she is often the “face” of the school, meeting with the public, potential donors, the press, or politicians. A leader must be able to see the big picture while at the same time have a working knowledge of the details. However, delving too much into the weeds of a project can cause unexpected problems. When leaders micromanage departments or projects, it signals a lack of trust to managers; it breeds confusion and suspicion and ultimately reduces efficiency and success. Leaders hire the right people and then trust them to get the job done.

The Absolutes: 8 Essential Skills All Effective Educational Leaders Must Have

 

All educational leaders must have some essential skills in order to be successful: 

The 4 Cs

  1. An effective leader must be truly committed to academic excellence. By setting high expectations for ethical practice and academic outcomes, a leader can inspire others to achieve great things.
  2. An effective leader must be an exceptional communicator, both verbally and in written form. It’s not enough to have great ideas—one must be able to communicate them to others to have those ideas come to fruition.
  3. An effective leader must be competent. We cannot all be experts in everything, but if we are to lead others, we must have a solid command of the subject matter or the field. Educational leaders must stay current with relevant literature, research, patterns, and trends.
  4. An effective leader must have confidence. It’s difficult to lead others when we don’t communicate that we truly believe the path being taken is the right one.

The Last 4: No Catchy Title, But Just As Important

  1. An effective leader must be an exceptional listener. When one person is doing all the talking, he or she rarely learns much from others in the room. By actively and purposefully listening to others, a leader shows respect to others; gains a better understanding of a given issue; receives suggestions for tackling a problem; and builds a stronger sense of trust.
  2. An effective leader must ensure proper recognition of managers and other team members for their contributions, particularly in the context of a significant or particularly challenging project. It’s necessary to motivate and inspire, but we must also show appreciation and recognition.
  3. An effective leader must be fair. Showing favoritism, even the suggestion of it, can quickly diminish team morale and motivation. A leader must treat all members of the team equally.
  4. An effective leader must be prepared to make tough decisions. There are times when institutions must face difficult budget shortfalls and steps must be taken to reduce expenditures. A prime example is the COVID-19 crisis we’re living through right now. There are also times when one or more staff members are not performing up to expectations. An effective leader must be willing and able to make the tough decisions that may not always be popular.  However, when leaders fail to make those tough decisions, they’re not doing the job they were hired to do.

The Bottom Line

Whether we’re talking about P-12 schools or higher education, success depends on leadership. We must have powerhouse educational leaders who are committed to academic excellence. In times like these it’s essential to our nation’s future. 

 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

      

 

 

Top Graphic Credit: topleadersinc.com

 

Online Learning: The Future of Higher Education

online learning and higher education

Bloomberg reports that 2.4 million undergraduate college students took all their coursework online last fall–a mere 15% of the total number of students pursuing a baccalaureate degree at the time. Another 3.6 million took at least one online course in addition to taking classes on campus in a traditional face-to-face learning environment. That figure doubled in approximately two weeks. 

Online Learning: 300 and Counting

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, college and university presidents across the United States have been scrambling to provide alternatives to traditional coursework. Currently, almost 300 higher education institutions have either shut their doors entirely or have transitioned to a distance learning format. That’s impacting nearly 4 million students. What’s more, the number could certainly go higher.

While many have resisted distance education for the past two decades, university administrators are transitioning to online learning at lightning speed for two reasons (1) so students can continue to meet degree requirements and (2) so they won’t have to refund tuition and fees, thereby placing their institutions in dire straits financially. 

Higher Education Teetering on the Edge

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, many higher education institutions were already struggling financially. Small, liberal arts colleges have been particularly hard hit due to a combination of factors such as (1) an increased emphasis on workforce development in STEM areas, (2) a strong national economy, and (3) lackluster state funding

USA Today reports that Moody’s credit agency recently downgraded its 2020 outlook for higher education from “stable” to “negative.” Even prior to COVID-19 30% of all public and private institutions were already operating in the red, and now this. Nicht gut. 

Fortunately, higher education institutions aren’t alone. The USDOE, regional accrediting bodies, and state departments of education have essentially granted carte blanche to colleges and universities. That’s helpful in the short term, but it can’t be a long-term strategy. 

Higher education institutions should start planning their future now. 

Is higher education in the United States as we know it a thing of the past? Are colleges and universities doomed for failure? No. While it’s true that higher education leaders need to focus on getting students through this semester in the short-term, they also need to be eyeing a long-term strategy for the future. 

Experts can continue to have their ideological differences regarding traditional face-to-face vs. online instruction, but today it’s a moot point. The fact is we are where we are, and we need to be pragmatic. In all reality, this won’t be the last time we are faced with a regional, national, or global crisis. Administrators need to get through this crisis, but they also need to think through a different lens moving forward. 

Online Learning: Not Just a Strategy of Last Resort 

Traditional higher education doesn’t have to end. Not by a long shot. However, college administrators need to avoid making rapid-fire decisions out of desperation. 

Revisit short-term and long-term strategic goals. 

If you don’t have a clear plan for dealing with crisis situations like the one we’re going through now, build one. If you don’t already have an innovative programming committee, create one. Being proactive rather than reactive is the better approach any day of the week. 

Create a thought leader sandbox. 

Every institution has a least one “out of the box” thinker–one who tends to speak up in meetings and challenges administrative decisions. Deans and department chairs often view these faculty or staff members as a pain in the neck. However, despite them coming across as negative or challenging every decision, those are the very people who should be tapped to lead a sandbox for thought leaders. They are the creative thinkers, and they should be tasked with building their institution for the future. 

Hire distance learning experts who understand and believe in quality. 

Let’s face it: Many institutions simply haven’t properly funded their distance learning departments. In some cases, a single person serves as the entire online learning staff. He or she creates the course shells, trains faculty, serves as Helpdesk support, and more. Moreover, those individuals may or may not even be trained in distance learning andragogy–they simply have strong technical skills to get things set up behind the scenes. That’s just not good enough. 

During this time of crisis, institutions are creating online course shells feverishly en masse, and most faculty have never taught an online course and are trying to teach themselves how to use online learning tools such as Zoom, Blackboard, and VoiceThread

An Opportunity for Higher Education Institutions

As strange as it may sound, this is actually a time of great opportunity for higher education institutions. College and university presidents should look at online learning as a way to build for the future. 

For example, from this point forward each semester staff should automatically create an online course shell for every traditional face-to-face course. Moreover, those staff should populate the shells with current syllabi and learning resources. Professional development in effective online teaching techniques should be offered for all faculty every semester.  The nonprofit organization Quality Matters is an excellent resource institutions can use to train faculty and ensure online course quality. 

For those institutions still on the fence about distance education, administrators could consider adopting a hybrid model whereby courses are offered as a mix of both face-to-face and online instruction. Then, if a crisis should occur, it would be simple to transition courses to an exclusively online model. 

Regardless, college leaders should work tirelessly to make sure that their faculty, staff, and students are never placed into such a stressful situation again. 

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About the Author: Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher has expertise in higher education quality assurance, educator preparation, and competency-based education. A former public school teacher and college administrator, Roberta is now an educational consultant specializing in the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 

Twitter: @RRossFisher

Email: globaleducationalconsulting@gmail.com 

 

 

Top Graphic Credit: educationaltechnology.net