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College of Education 'Exemplary'

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The College of Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is doing an “exemplary” job in educating students to become teachers. That’s what the latest accountability report from the state Board of Regents reads.

UL Lafayette received the highest possible ranking in the state’s third annual Teacher Preparation Accountability Report released last week. The university was among 12 of 19 programs receiving the exemplary stamp.

“ The accountability reports represent a critical component of the education community’s effort to improve Louisiana’s teacher education programs at both public and private universities,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Savoie in a news release. “This year, the overwhelming majority of our programs received admirably high rankings. That means our institutions have stepped up to the challenge of program accountability. And the real winners in all of this, of course, are the children in our schools.”

The accountability report, in compliance with the Higher Education Act of 1998, assesses the performance of teacher preparation programs within the state by taking into account an institution’s passage rate on the PRAXIS examination for teacher certification along with the number of students who complete the regular and alternate certification programs and the score on a survey measuring completer satisfaction.

UL Lafayette’s pass rate on PRAXIS is 99.6 percent while 189 students completed the regular teacher preparation program and 50 completed the alternate certification program. The university scored 118 - one of the highest scores of all programs evaluated - on the program satisfaction survey.

The report, according to the Board of Regents, is intended to demonstrate to the public that Louisiana’s recently-redesigned teacher preparation programs are delivering results and that its public and private colleges of education are working diligently to produce high-quality, effective classroom teachers.

Dr. Gerald Carlson, Dean of Education at UL Lafayette, credits the hard work of education students as well as the whole university community on this outstanding ranking.

“ I think this report shows a strong indication of the positive impact selective admissions has had at UL Lafayette,” said Carlson. “We are seeing well-prepared students who enter and complete the challenging and engaging teacher preparation program we offer here.

“ We also could not have received this high mark from the Board of Regents without the support from all disciplines,” said Carlson. “The College of Education isn’t the only college on campus that is helping to educate these students. The College of Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts, the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration, the College of Applied Life Sciences and the College of the Arts are among others that help with courses in those areas. The collaboration has been wonderful and imperative in redesigning our program.”

The Regents approved redesigned and new programs in Early Childhood, Elementary and Middle School Education in addition to 14 areas of Secondary Education in Spring 2003. The college also redesigned the Counselor Education Program in collaboration with the College of Liberal Arts and the Psychology Department.

Other notable features in the accountability report for UL Lafayette included the College of Education’s strategies for recruitment and retention including hosting teaching academies each year to pre-service teachers and peer-tutoring sessions in mathematics for elementary education majors.

The report also noted a new orientation course required for all candidates studying education. This two-hour course provides instruction in the use of PASS-PORT, an electronic portfolio system that assesses both candidates and programs.

In addition, the university leads the state in establishing Professional Development Schools. Currently, 11 partnerships have been formed between six elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools and UL Lafayette.

The university also offers a teacher warranty. This ensures that UL Lafayette graduates who have difficulty with the Louisiana Teacher Assistance and Assessment Program will be provided special assistance including additional course work where needed at no cost.

“ The university has a history of strong educational programs and this report proves that,” said Dr. Ray Authement, UL Lafayette president. “We’ve been a leader in educating some of the best teachers in this state and this country since this university opened its doors more than 100 years ago.”

According to the Department of Education, UL Lafayette has more teachers teaching in Louisiana than any other in-state university.

The Board of Regents began its accountability rating system in 2001, assessing only the performance of regular and alternate certification students on the PRAXIS exam. The following year, the formula was expanded to take into account today’s standards on accountability.