Context

Under authority granted by the South Carolina General Assembly, the Aiken County Commission for Higher Education entered into an agreement with the University of South Carolina in 1961 to establish a two-year, off-campus center of the university in Aiken County. The campus opened in September 1961 and was housed in Banksia, a renovated mansion in the City of Aiken and moved to its present site in 1972. In 1977, the university was fully accredited as a senior college by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and granted its first baccalaureate degrees. Master's degree programs began being offered on campus in 1994. More than 3,500 students attend the university, and approximately 500 students graduate each year. USC Aiken provides bachelor's and master's degrees in 50 programs of study. The School of Education has ~330 declared majors and 70 graduates per year. The racial and ethnic minority percentages for USC Aiken and the SoE are as follows: Total% (40, 18)  Completers%  (35, 13) Faculty% (20, 24). The admission requirements for USC Aiken include 21 units high school course prerequisites, 3.0 GPA (on average), SAT 970 or ACT 20 (on average). For our SoE the professional program requirements are: 60 credit hours, "C" or better in ENGL 101, ENGL 102 & COMM, GPA 2.75 (minimum), Praxis Core 456/ACT 22/SAT 1100 passing scores, Clear SLED check, Clear TB test, National Sex offenders registry no records found, completed Professional Program application seminar.

In 2003, we added a 2+2 program with USC Salkehatchie to offer the Elem Ed program onsite. USC Salk has campuses in Allendale & Walterboro. In 2017, we added our SpEd program to the USC System Palmetto College.

Since our last accreditation visit in 2012, there have been numerous challenges for the SoE. From 2013-15, two different Interim Deans were in place. The current Dean arrived in 2015-16 and spent the year shepherding changes through the University and State levels to all 8 programs due to a legislative mandate (Read to Succeed). In fall 2016, we were granted an accreditation extension by the SCDoE to allow for more time to prepare for the new CAEP requirements. The state of South Carolina does not currently share K-12 student growth data with its EPPs. 

The SCDoE changed the teacher evaluation system to the SC Teaching Standards, as well as the SCTS Rubric 4.0 observation tool and the Student Learning Outcomes assessment (SLO). All EPPs were required to have the SCTS Rubric 4.0 as the observation instrument by Fall 2017. To better prepare our candidates, we choose to also begin implementing the SLO. In 2018, the SCDoE aligned with the AMLE Standards to allow for one content concentration area in middle level education. Our faculty unanimously agreed to change our ML programs requiring approval at both University and State level. Additionally, we have had two assessment coordinators and 5 administrative assistants in the last 4 years.

Since 1961, five leaders have navigated the university's path. Mr. Chris Sharp (1961-1962), Mr. Bill Casper (1963-1983), Dr. Robert Alexander (1983-2000), Dr. Thomas Hallman (2000-2012), and Dr. Sandra Jordan (2012-current) have overseen the campus as it has grown from a commuter institution to a more traditional, residentially-based campus.

USC Aiken's senior administration ("The Monday Group") organizational structure from the top-down consists of the following people:

  • Dr. Sandra J. Jordan - Chancellor
  • Dr. Daren Timmons -  Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
  • Mary Driscoll - Vice Chancellor of University Advancement and External Relations
  • Cam Reagin - Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance / CFO
  • Ahmed Samaha -  Vice Chancellor of Student Life and Services
  • Ernest Pringle - Vice Chancellor for Information Technology
  • Jim Herlihy - Director of Athletics
  • Nicole Spensley - Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Research and Compliance.  

USC Aiken's Office of Academic Affairs is led by Dr. Daren Timmons (Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs) and Dr. Tim Lintner (Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs). There are nine colleges/schools/programs including: College of Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences (Dr. Mark Hollingsworth - Dean); College of Sciences and Engineering (Dr. Chad Leverette - Interim Dean);  School of Business (Dr. Mick Fekula - Dean); School of Education (Dr. Judy Beck  - Dean); School of Nursing (Dr. Thayer McGahee - Dean); Enrollment Management (Daniel Robb - Associate Vice Chancellor); Library (Rodney Lippard - Director); Office of External Programs and Continuing Education (Karen Edgington Director); and Special Centers and Programs.

View USC Aiken's Organizational Charts

The USC Aiken School of Education is headed by the Dean. Each EPP specialty program (Early Childhood. Elementary, Middle Level, Special Education, Secondary: Social Studies, Biology and/or Chemistry, Math, and English Language Arts, and Music Education) is headed by highly qualified program coordinator. The SoE also has Coordinators for Field Experience, Assessment, and Graduate Studies.  The EPP also has several collaborative committees including the Professional Development School (PDS), Professional Education (PEC), Graduate Studies, Recruitment and Retention CAEP Standards Teams, and Junior & Senior Block Committees. In addition, we have 2 administrative assistants and have requested a student services coordinator.

Aiken County Public School District offers 100% of our Aiken graduates a contract and employs 90%+ on an annual basis. Our other graduates are typically employed in the surrounding counties including Colleton where the majority of our Salkehatchie campus graduates are employed.

Vision Statement

As a leading teacher education program in South Carolina, the USC Aiken School of Education prepares highly qualified dynamic educators who have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to create optimal learning environments to assist all individuals in reaching their potential.

Mission Statement

As an integral part of the University of South Carolina Aiken, the School of Education is committed to the university goals of active learning through excellence in teaching, faculty and candidate scholarship, and service. Candidates in the School of Education participate in a rigorous curriculum, which is anchored by a strong liberal arts and sciences component, comprised of courses in the humanities, fine arts, social sciences, mathematics, and natural sciences. These courses provide a foundation upon which the pedagogical content and pedagogy are built and dispositions such as responsible citizenship, respect for diversity, and cross-cultural understandings are developed. The School of Education faculty model instruction based on research, infused with technology, and aligned with national, state, and local standards. The School of Education collaborates with schools, school districts and community service organizations to provide numerous and varied field experiences that are structured to prepare candidates to work with all students.

The teacher education faculty in the School of Education challenge candidates to acquire and develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to become successful dynamic educators who can plan, instruct, manage, communicate, and grow professionally.

Domains of the Dynamic Educator

Planner:

  • Understands national, state, and local standards
  • Has a strong content knowledge in the Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Uses various forms of assessments to inform and plan instruction
  • Is familiar with planning documentation (e.g., FBAs, BIPs, & IEPs) necessary for working with students with special educational needs

Manager:

  • Has knowledge of human growth theories, psychological theories, manager theories and management techniques to facilitate learning for all children
  • Applies techniques and theories to create safe learning environments, manage instructional time, and manage instructional materials 

Instructor:

  • Understands national, state, and local standards
  • Has a strong content knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences
  • Uses various forms of assessments to inform instruction
  • Has pedagogical content knowledge
  • Understands various learning theories that enable them to facilitate the learning for all  children
  • Thinks critically and assesses the merits of various curricula and instructional approaches based on research

Communicator:

  • Has excellent oral communication skills
  • Has excellent written communication skills
  • Facilitates the learning of all children
  • Effectively communicates with children, parents, and colleagues

Professional:

  • Is a reflective practitioner
  • Fosters relationships with school colleagues and community agencies, such as social services and mental health associations, to enhance the learning and wellbeing of students
  • Displays positive dispositions with respect to: attitude, cultural awareness, enthusiasm, personal appearance, professionalism, rapport, reliability, and sensitivity
  • Is committed to facilitating the learning of all children
  • Stays informed on current trends and legislation and applies that understanding in practice
  • Seeks opportunities to grow professionally

Diversity and Technology are integrated throughout the program. The following are the expectations of candidates in these fields.

Diversity - Candidates in the School of Education are expected to facilitate the learning of all students as follows:

  • Understands other cultures and their impact on student learning
  • Understands and uses various teaching strategies to accommodate diverse populations of students
  • Is respectful, compassionate, considerate, friendly, just, and free of bias when working with students from diverse backgrounds

Technology - Candidates will demonstrate acquisition of technology knowledge, skills and dispositions defined by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) as follows:

  • Facilitates and inspires student learning and creativity
  • Designs and develops digital-age learning experiences and assessments
  • Models digital-age work and learning
  • Promotes and models digital citizenship and responsibility
  • Engages in professional growth and leadership

Standard 1: Content and Pedagogical Knowledge

As a leading teacher education program in South Carolina, the University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA) School of Education (SOE) prepares highly qualified dynamic educators who have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that meet South Carolina Teaching Standards (SCTS), InTASC Standards, required licensure exams, and multiple proprietary assessments used by our educator preparation program (EPP). Throughout our initial licensure teacher education program, teacher candidates engage in coursework and clinical experiences that allow the candidates to apply the knowledge, pedagogical skills, and dispositions through a as they progress through the various stages of the teacher education program.

Data evidence from multiple assessments, analysis, and continuous improvement efforts submitted demonstrate that the USC Aiken School of Education meets all components of CAEP Standard 1 and the cross-cutting themes of diversity and technology. USC Aiken teacher candidates are highly qualified dynamic educators who have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to create optimal learning environments to assist all P-K  students in reaching their full potential and follow their college and career readiness paths.  USC Aiken dynamic educators are able to integrate technology into their classroom and professional practice. Through the USC Aiken teacher education program, teacher candidates evolve into professional educators well-prepared to embark on their teaching careers.

Evidence for meeting CAEP Standard 1 includes multiple evaluation measures aligned to the InTASC categories of: the learner and learning, content knowledge, instructional practice, professional responsibilities, college and career readiness preparation, and diversity and equity.  As candidates progress through the EPP, they demonstrate proficiency in Standard 1 through formal proprietary EPP-wide assessment measures and formative evaluations. South Carolina and InTASC standards are aligned and assessed in a developmental progression at multiple points during each teacher candidate's educational program. Data evidence are analyzed and disaggregated. Integral to the detailed data analyses provided within the extensive data evidence throughout this report is the discussion of trends or patterns that influenced our EPP's continuous improvement efforts.

The CAEP Assessment 1 Praxis USC Aiken serves as evidence for meeting Standard 1 regarding successful teacher candidate understanding and instruction of the content knowledge of their program area and pedagogical skills to positively influence PK-12 learners and learning.  Candidates typically take these exams just prior to or during their student teaching semester and must receive a passing score on both tests to be eligible for program completion and licensure. The Praxis II and PLT pass rates have been exemplary for the last 3 academic years (2015-16 = 98%, 2016-17 = 100%, 2017-18 = 96%). Further, the Praxis II (content) and PLT (pedagogy) exam (exams required to receive licensure in SC) have been within 3 percentage points of the statewide average for the 2015-16, 16-17, and 17-18 academic years. From the disaggregated data, it appears that we are adequately preparing our teacher candidates for teaching in their designated program area and subjects at an acceptable level. Based on these scores, our recent teacher candidates have demonstrated the standards-relevant competency and skills necessary to begin their professional teaching practice. 

Prior to entering the professional program, all potential teacher candidates must complete content curriculum  for all pre-professional initial licensure programs including multiple  credit hours of required  content courses in English, math, communications, science, history, psychology, and critical inquiry. The data are disaggregated by required pre-professional common course grades over the past three academic years (2016- 17,  2017-18, and 2018-19). Based on the  mean scores, teacher education majors scored at (within .10) or above the level of their non-teacher education peers for 30% of the courses. Fifty percent of the 3-year mean scores were above 2.75 GPA and 92% (11/12) above a 2.5 GPA. 

Prior to the 2018-19 academic year, the South Carolina State Department of Education required all IHE's to evaluate education interns using the Assisting, Developing, and Evaluating Professional Teaching (ADEPT) Performance Standards. ADEPT Performance Standards were grouped into four domains: planning, instruction, classroom environment, and professionalism. The EPP further subdivided PD 10 (Professionalism) into three categories: professional behavior, written communication, and oral communication. Student teacher candidates were rated based on the quality of their performance on each element based on ADEPT Performance expectations and standards which are directly aligned to the NIET and INTASC Standards. A 100% pass rate for teacher candidates across the academic years 2015 - 2018 demonstrated proficiency on all aspects of ADEPT, scoring at the Acceptable or Target levels.

Beginning in the Fall 2018 semester, all teacher candidates were evaluated during the student teaching semester using the SCTS Rubric 4.0 assessment. The SCTS Rubric 4.0 is designed to assess an intern's professional practice and is comprised of four domains: Instruction, Environment, Planning and Professionalism - each with indicators and specific descriptors that differentiate levels of performance.  We currently have two cycles of data (fall 2018 and spring 2019 semester). To successfully complete the student teaching experience, candidates have performed at the "proficient" level (3) or above overall and no ratings have fallen into the "unsatisfactory" level.

As additional evidence of meeting CAEP Standard 1's key concepts of instructional practice and professional responsibilities, the EPP faculty examined the overall composite scores and the primary 4.0 Rubric section mean scores (planning, instruction, environment, and professionalism) by program area for the spring 2019 and fall 2018 semesters. In the fall of 2018, all specialty program areas, composite scores fell within the proficient range:  ECE (3.45), ELEM (3.32), MLE (3.02), SEC (3.52), and SPED (3.76). For both the fall 2018 and spring 2019 semesters, the candidates' performance was highest 3.58 (fall 2018) and 3.11 (spring 2019) in professionalism. This data intersects with our Teacher Educator Advisory Council (TEAC) feedback data  on the high professionalism of our program completers. The interns' composite mean scores were the lowest throughout the academic year 2018-19 in the areas of planning (range mean scores: 2.80 to 3.4 and instruction: 2.81 to 3.35, still within or above the overall target scores of 2 to 3 expected for this assessment. Therefore, the USC-Aiken SOE faculty reflected on how to better incorporate the development of lesson planning and instruction throughout the USCA professional program practicum courses. Hence, the USC Aiken lesson plan was developed and has been implemented unit-wide in all methods and practicum courses beginning in the  current 2019-2020 academic year. 

The USC Aiken School of Education faculty approved the lesson plan as an EPP-wide assessment to pilot during the 2018-19 academic year in three program areas (Secondary Social Studies, Middle Level Education, and Special Education) and full implementation EPP unit-wide across all program areas for the 2019-20 academic year. The evidence provide two semesters (cycles of data) and will continue with additional cycles of data (Fall 2019 and  Spring 2020) during the 2019-2020 academic year. Content validity and  inter-rater reliability agreement have been established. Of the MLE (N=5) candidates, demonstrated 80-100% mastery in all areas on their lesson plans. The 2018-19 Social Studies lesson plan scores for 5 secondary social studies teacher candidates for a social studies methods and practicum course (EDSE 449). Only 2 of the 5 candidates scored within the acceptable range for all lesson plan rubric areas. Three secondary social studies candidates mean scores fell below target in four areas:  diversity for student learning, grouping students, questioning, and linking theory to practice. The third group (11 initial licensure SPED teacher candidates) of the pilot round of lesson plan data came from our Special Education program courses in the fall 2018 Senior Block EDEX 435 (Methods and Practicum for ED) course and the spring 2019 semester Jr. Block EDEX 410 (Intro to ID) and Sr. Block EDEX 415 (Methods and Practicum for ID). Each SPED candidate developed a lesson plan at the beginning of the semester and at the end of the semester and in 6 cases from course to course. All (N=11) SPED candidates showed overall lesson plan development growth in fall 2018 and spring 2019. The candidates' composite lesson planning scores ranged from 2.0 - 3.9, with the lowest average scores for Candidates 1-5 (2.47) who only completed two lesson plans in one course. Candidates 6-11 all scored highest (3.4-3.9) on their final lesson plan in the spring semester for EDEX 410, a course solely focused on lesson planning.  Upon reviewing the lesson plan data, the EPP faculty decided to implement the lesson plan assessment at the beginning and end of each program area practicum and/or course, to allow for measurement of growth and to foster the development of lesson planning in a progressive manner. 

The EPP takes candidate dispositions very seriously and understands the impact these can have on candidate performance. The current assessment of dispositions was just recently approved by the Teacher Educator Advisory Council and EPP faculty. The new disposition assessment includes a candidate self-assessment component (administered beginning, mid-way, and at the end of the professional program)  and an assessment by faculty (junior block, senior, block, and internship), mentor/cooperating teachers and supervisors (mid-term and final internship evaluation points) at developmental professional program intervals as indicated. The fall 2018 (n=29) completers showed marked difference on their self-evaluations of dispositions and the faculty disposition rating at mid and end of the professional program.  Fall 2018 cohort candidates entering the EPP averaged 2.5 (out of 4) with faculty dispositional ratings of the fall 2018 candidates were 3.25 mid-program and 3.3 by graduation.  The spring 2019 (n=40) completers, self-dispositional mean scores at entry were 2.53, while the faculty rated the spring 2019 cohort at both mid-program and exit at 3.3.  Fall 2019 dispositional data is still being populated. Spring 2020 will be the first semester where all interns will complete a self-disposition from entry into the program through internship.  The new disposition assessment has been used to provide consistency EPP-wide for monitoring dispositions as well as establish specific program points for which disposition assessment will take place for all candidates.

The TEAC Feedback of USC Aiken SOE Graduates data indicate that employers of EPP graduates believe that our completers have the holistic skills required for teaching in K-12 school including: professional collaborators who have a strong content and pedagogical knowledge in their licensure area and major(s). The exit data from the Fall 2017-Spring 2018 academic years that USC-Aiken SOE completers feel well-prepared to teaching in diverse K-12 contexts. The completers rated their satisfaction level between 80-100% for EPP preparation in: high expectations, short range planning, learning environment, professionalism, and instructional strategies. The majority of satisfaction percentages (60%+) fell in the "very satisfied" to "satisfied" range. Long range planning, ELL instructional strategies, and academic advising were the areas that student had rated as the least satisfactory but still fell within the target satisfaction range. The EPP faculty collaborated on goal setting to strengthen these preparation areas to include more intensive academic advising training and support, required unit plans or e-portfolio of lesson(s) across programs, and culturally responsive instruction as learning modules within all professional program practicum curricula and courses. The EPP will continue to review our completer exit surveys and make modifications to our EPP as appropriate.

As further evidence of the EPP's use of research and evidence to measure students' progress, a 2017-18 pilot case study emerged from a need to evaluate the impact on P-12 students of our recent education major graduates. For the purposes of this pilot study, we wished to examine if the impact of recent alumni (1-3 years out across programs) on P-12 student learning. As we are allowed to phase-in our program improvement plan, this pilot study only has one cycle of data (AY 2017-18) at the time of this report. This evidence was gathered by the partnering school district and shared with the EPP case study team at the conclusion of Spring 2018 MAP testing administration.

In spring 2019, 50% (9 of the n=18) of the participants' students demonstrated achievement at or above the participating district's P-12 student outcomes in the grade level content areas.  Four of the nine participants with positive outcome data were ECE majors, two were MLE majors, one was high school math, and two were elementary education majors. With five of the six ECE majors performing above district benchmarks, we inferred that our ECE program is doing an adequate job preparing ECE students to teach reading in K-2 classrooms. Seven elementary major participants had classroom pass percentages in 3rd and 4th Grade ELA and Math assessments under the participating county's averages, leading The EPP faculty to ponder the efficacy of our Elementary Education program preparation in the areas of math and reading.  However, the Praxis Elementary Subject Area Assessment elementary pass percentages in math and ELA pass rates from September 2015 - August 2018 were consistently above 80%.  Math and ELA content knowledge appears to be a strength for ELEM candidates, leaving pedagogy as a potential area for improvement.  Also, the MAPS data only consisted of one data point for each 1-3 year teacher participants' students' scores per test to benchmark against the district overall scores. Based on the pilot study's limited results, the CAEP standards teams decided a more in-depth case study focused on embedded cases (individual participants)  within each program of study and utilizing data evidence beyond one set of standardized testing (MAPS and Praxis) data outcomes to include student learning objective (SLO) pre-/post-assessment data over the course of a semester or academic year would allow for a more holistic picture of the preparedness of our completers' to positively impact P-12 student learning.

The University of South Carolina School of Education offers a wide variety of initial licensure program paths for our teacher candidates: Early Childhood Education (PreK-3), Elementary (2-6), Middle Level Education (5-8), Secondary (9-12) Math, Science, English Language Arts and Social Studies, and Special Education. All specialty area programs with the exception of Elementary Education have been recognized or recognized with conditions. We also offer a Music Education licensure that is nationally accredited through NASM. At the time of this CAEP Self-Study Report, the EPP offers an Elementary education program at an off-site location at USC Salkehatchie (Salk). USC Salk services a rural, low socioeconomic, high minority region of the state and is located in Allendale County. The Data Comparison of ECE/ELEM Campuses demonstrates that early childhood and elementary education candidates at the two campuses are consistently exceeding program learning outcomes for CAEP Standard 1.

All EPP candidates must also demonstrate assessment and data literacy and the use of assessment to positively impact P-12 student learning, as well as candidate college and career readiness on the Student Learning Objective (SLO) and the Teacher Work Sample (TWS) Assessments. The SLO Project requires that candidates design and teach a in their content area of study that addresses specific learning goals along with student characteristics and needs and design an assessment plan to monitor student progress toward learning goal(s). Each SLO is aligned to the specialty program area national standards. In 2018, the SLO replaced the Teacher Work Sample as a proprietary assessment for all educational preparation programs across South Carolina. The fall 2018 data indicated that all teacher candidates achieved mastery in every category. Upon reflection on the fall 2018 data, the EPP decided to assess teacher candidate development across the internship semester related to their implementation of their SLO plans. Therefore, in the nature of the SLO and measurement of student growth, the SLO data was disaggregated in by each performance descriptor and overall performance by the EPP overall. The overall candidate outcomes for the spring 2019 semester, demonstrated an average 2.72 score (out of a possible 3) or 91% mastery of the 10 SLO rubric areas. The scores were varied across candidates and program areas, indicating sufficient preparation of the spring 2019 interns in all areas. The primary area of concern was the progress monitoring plan (formative assessment). Therefore, the USC-Aiken SOE faculty reflected on how to better implement formative assessment and progress monitoring practice the EPP practicum courses and internship. The SLO assessment provides evidence that the candidates can successfully apply their content and pedagogical skills in planning and implementing assessments for all programs of study EPP-wide. The TWS data from the Fall 2016-Spring 2018 semester indicated that all teacher candidates achieved mastery in every category. There was no differentiation of the data by program area or performance across the TWS four assessment areas included in this TWS assessment.

Beginning in January 2019, the EPP offered diversity workshops where the facilitator engaged candidates in critical self-reflection and group dialogue about culture, pedagogy, and classroom practice. These workshops (series of three) focused on anti-bias education practices for preservice teachers. Further, all students are required to take a diversity course in their primary program of study (ECE, ELEM, MLE, SEC, and SPED). An example course description for EDSE A312 Teaching Diverse Populations in the Middle and High School (20 practicum hours) is as follows. The purpose of this course is to provide opportunities to observe, reflect, and interact with young adolescents in a local middle or high school. To receive credit in the course, all culturally responsive projects must be completed and 20 hours must be completed and documented on the School of Education practicum timesheet. Plus, all EPP student teacher interns participate in a required Diversity Conference. Students complete a diversity conference reflection paper as part of their internship responsibilities. A passing score on the diversity reflection paper is required for all interns to pass student teaching internship. All interns from academic years 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 earned passing scores on their diversity reflection papers.

Over the past 5-7 years, the EPP has endeavored to prepare candidates to integrate technology into their instruction. All majors except Early Childhood Education (ECE) must complete EDUC 245-Technology for Teaching and Learning. ECE majors compile e-portfolios related to integrating. technology in ECE classrooms. The required educational technology course includes multiple ISTE competencies. The EDUC 245 course students earn five digital badges. Data evidence were collected to determine the digital badge mastery of three semesters of data from the EDUC 245 course. From spring 2018 - spring 2019, 102 students completed EDUC 245. The highest percentage of candidates earned digital badges in the introductory headshot/bio badge (89%), the Webquest (62%), and Instructional Technology badges. 100% passed the final exam sections covering all unearned digital badge learning objectives. Therefore, mastery of the integration of technology was evident for all teacher candidates who took the EDUC 245 course over the past 3 semesters (spring 2018, fall 2018, and spring 2019).

On the EPP completer exit surveys support completer use of technology in PK-12 classrooms and satisfaction in regards to preparation related to technology. Between the Fall 2017 - Fall 2018, nearly 80% of completers expressed satisfaction with the EPP preparation to teach diverse learners overall, while just over 50% felt prepared to work with English language learners. Similarly, employers (N=10) rated completer preparation high (100% "well-prepared" or "prepared") in use of a variety of instructional strategies to enhance learning for diverse learners by providing equitable learning opportunities. All (100%) of employers surveyed (N=10) expressed that USC Aiken teacher education graduates are well-prepared to teach in diverse populations.

Further, the SLO assessment has a candidate's impact on student achievement through technology-based, data-driven instructional decision making component. In addition to the above, the EPP emphasizes the importance of providing instruction for all children so that all children learn. Candidates must provide evidence that they can design lessons that meet the needs of all children. In our common lesson plan format, candidates must specifically address how they are meeting the needs of all children and integrating technology into all instruction. More recently, the EPP faculty reflected on the integration of the technology ISTE standards into the teacher education coursework to better prepare USC Aiken teacher candidates to model, design, and assess technology-based learning experiences and improve their professional practice. During the 2018-19 academic year, the Standard 1 team surveyed the EPP faculty regarding the integration of InTASC and International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards across the teacher educator curriculum. The EPP faculty aligned the teacher educator program curriculum to the ISTE standards and substandards. According to the survey, the majority of EPP teacher education courses integrate, current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning. The survey data demonstrated course alignment to CAEP Standard 1.5. Finally, completer exit surveys support completer use of technology in PK-12 classrooms and satisfaction in regards to preparation related to technology. Between the Fall 2017 - Fall 2018, nearly 90% of completers expressed satisfaction with their educational technology preparation.

Standard 2: Clinical Parterships and Practice

The Teacher Education Program at the University of South Carolina Aiken is committed to developing and sustaining mutually beneficial effective partnerships with partner school districts and professional development schools to promote high quality clinical field experiences for EPP candidates desiring to become certified educators. These collaborative partnerships have been established over time and provide the optimal learning situations for teacher candidates that conform to state licensure requirements. Regular feedback and mutual decision-making regarding teacher candidate progression through the teacher education program and clinical field experiences supports the accountability for coherent candidate outcomes. The School of Education collaborates with schools, school districts and community organizations to provide numerous and varied field and clinical experiences that are structured to prepare candidates to work with all P-12 students.

The Teacher Education Program at the University of South Carolina Aiken is committed to developing and sustaining mutually beneficial effective partnerships with partner school districts and professional development schools to promote high quality clinical field experiences for EPP candidates desiring to become certified educators. These collaborative partnerships have been established over time and provide the optimal learning situations for teacher candidates that conform to state licensure requirements. Regular feedback and mutual decision-making regarding teacher candidate progression through the teacher education program and clinical field experiences supports the accountability for coherent candidate outcomes.

The School of Education collaborates with schools, school districts and community organizations to provide numerous and varied field and clinical experiences that are structured to prepare candidates to work with all P-12 students. The EPP has developed collaborative partnership agreements with the Teacher Educator Advisory Committee (TEAC), the professional development schools for pre-internship field placements, and memorandums for understanding (MOUs) with 33 districts and schools. The EPP field and clinical experience model was based on the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) Nine Essentials (https://napds.org/nine-essentials/) and is designed to accomplish the following: prepare future educators, provide current (in-service) teachers with ongoing professional development, encourage school-university research collaborations, and promote the learning of all P-12 students. Further, our dynamic educator conceptual framework is foundational to our mutual beneficial and collaborative partnerships and is an extension of the core values of University of South Carolina Aiken that include character, citizenship, curiosity, and collegiality. Specifically, two core values apply to the EPP's commitment to building collaborative partnerships:

Citizenship

We value the rights and responsibilities associated with membership in a community. We embrace efforts to work for the common good and opportunities to enrich the lives of all community members.

Collegiality

We value a nurturing community where people support one another, embrace diversity, and encourage mutual respect.

The EPP has a Professional Development School (PDS) partnership of collaborative  learning communities consisting of 8 elementary, 3 middle, 2 high, and 2 pending schools in Aiken County Public School District (ACPSD), and 1 elementary school in Barnwell County. The PDS field experiences at USCA are tiered to ensure the developmental evolution of teacher candidates into dynamic educators. The Tier II Partnership schools work with USC Aiken students who are at the pre-professional level. Tier II schools agree to provide cooperating teachers who are willing to allow USC Aiken students to observe in their classrooms. Highly qualified cooperating teachers in PDS schools are eligible to receive up to 30 hours of recertification credit for hosting pre-professional practicum students. Tier I PDS schools commit to full participation in the Professional Development School model. These schools work with USC Aiken students who are juniors and seniors in the professional program. Cooperating teachers (CTs) in PDS schools are eligible to receive up to 60 hours of recertification credit for mentoring practicum students who are in the professional program.  Tier I sites provide a classroom space for USC Aiken to hold courses on-site during the school day.  Further, our practicum courses are sequenced and aligned to the field and clinical experiences to promote the full development of dynamic educator.

The EPP and school partners jointly determine and construct clinical placements. The EPP works closely with its school partners so that candidates are placed in assignments that will assist them in gaining the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to be successful with P-12 students. All EPP partnerships are validated through Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreements. The purpose of a 3-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement is to clearly identify the roles, responsibilities, relevant policies and current operational procedures that exist between the University of South Carolina Aiken and the School District in providing field experience and internships for student teachers in the Teacher Education Program. While each party has a role, selection of a site and placement of a candidate is a collaborative effort.  The Field Experience Coordinator in partnership with school districts and schools will identify highly qualified cooperating teachers and will match student teachers with University Supervisors to form a TRIAD (CT, US, and intern) team. These intentional placements help ensure successful relationships and quality student teaching experiences. Most districts have a district level person in charge of placing student interns, using the mutually agreed upon CT qualifications and the data from the practicum student surveys regarding CT's. We are currently implementing on a survey for all CTs to identify their philosophy of education with the goal of matching a CT's and candidate's philosophies of education and licensure area/content area program of study.

The SoE provides a handbook to all professional level teacher candidates.  This handbook outlines information about the SOE's vision and mission, the teacher education program, and programs for students. Additionally, this handbook provides information related to field experiences and internship. The Teacher Educator Advisory Council (TEAC), made up of EPP faculty, school partners, and school district administrators, and the PDS Committee (EPP faculty members) collaborate on the evaluation, design, and implementation of high quality practicum and internship field experiences. As the major stakeholder advisory committee for the EPP, TEAC offers feedback regarding teacher candidate quality, field experiences and clinical practice, and evaluation  practices. The TEAC meets each semester (fall and spring dinner meetings) to validate, revise, and complete surveys, offer feedback on dispositions, candidate preparedness, and TRIAD (CT, US, and intern) expectations advises on selected topics. 

As a form of technology-based collaboration, the EPP and the Aiken County Public School District have begun sharing 1st - 3rd EPP graduate impact on student learning data and USC Aiken teacher education graduate tracking. In addition, 100% of  EPP candidates that interned in ACPSD in 2018-19 received teaching contract offers. Further, the EPP offers online and face-to-face training and professional development for cooperating teachers and partnering school district teachers and administrators. The EPP supports research collaborations between USC Aiken faculty and partner district educators by co-presenting at research conferences. Current and upcoming EPP and community partnerships include:  Aiken County Schools (PK research and professional development beginning August 2019) City of Aiken Public Safety Department (school safety PD), Trenton Correctional Center (alternative school placements, pending), Camp Long Juvenile Justice Program (pending), and the Aiken Scholars Academy. We also have  current and former faculty board members of Public Education Partners, Tall Pines STEM Academy, School Improvement Councils for Leavelle-McCampbell Middle School, Aiken Elementary and Aiken Intermediate School.  In addition, the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center is a cooperative effort with local industry that brings science and math educational programs to K-12 students and their teachers each year. Since its opening over 925,000 people have taken part in RPSEC programs. Further, the EPP implemented the "Aiken Scholars" program in the academic year 2018-19. This program recruits high school students identified as gifted in STEM areas. The students engage in advanced high school classwork in our Science Education Building during their 9th and 10th grade years and then move to undergraduate level STEM courses at USC Aiken for their 11th and 12th grade years. We also have a "Teaching Fellows" program that recruits the highest caliber of high school seniors who are interested in entering the field of education.  Finally, beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, USC Aiken faculty are participating in university IRB-approved research involving social emotional learning strategies for 600 ACPSD pre-school students and research on professional development for all pre-K educators in ACPSD.

In addition to the P-12 school-based and community partnerships, the EPP also has technology and diversity-based collaborations with the university. The inter-curricular enrichment (ICE) program is a university-wise general education requirement that incorporates workshops and professional development related to diversity and cultural competency campus-wide. Beginning in January 2019, the EPP began offering diversity workshops for teacher candidates and all USC Aiken students in which participants earned digital Merit pages and ICE credits. 

Through the direction of the EPP, the Office of Field Supervision, Professional Development School (PDS) committee, and field and clinical experience faculty serve as liaisons between the candidates and the P-12 schools and partners, providing student support in all aspects of the field and clinical experiences including certification, clinical experiences and graduation. The Office of Field Experiences  collaborates with MOU partner districts to place of teachers candidates in the optimal field and clinical public school experiences, organizes and implements the orientation for student teachers, supports and trains the university supervisors and cooperating teachers, and collects data for program evaluation and accreditation purposes. Further, the Office of Field Supervision, PDS committee, and TEAC evaluate clinical educator quality through feedback in the form of CT (field experiences) and TRIAD (CT, US, and intern) surveys.  Data evidence is currently being inputted, stored, and disaggregated through Task Stream and the EPP data collection system providing documentation of the qualifications for clinical educators and is maintained by the EPP office.  For the 2018-19 academic year, the clinical educators must meet specific educational requirements and have extensive professional experiences before being selected to serve as clinical educators.  The Field Experience Coordinator (internship) and the PDS Committee Chair (field experiences) coordinate with school and district administration to offer placements and clinical educators that align with the candidate, EPP, and partner school needs. Candidates are placed in grade level and content classroom settings based on their licensure area.

In November 2018, we began to investigate the governing requirements concerning Renewal Credits for our Practicum Cooperating Teachers.  The new process focuses on ONE source document that serves multiple reporting requirement.  This spreadsheet will be disaggregated to reflect only the School District, School, Cooperating Teacher, Renewal Credits earned, semester, year, student teacher name and sent to the school district for official assignment of credits to each teacher's record.    With this information, and with subsequent semesters information, we and the district can provide long term tracking of renewal credits supporting high quality cooperating teachers.

The University Supervisor serves as the liaison between the University, cooperating teacher, and the teacher candidate. Their role is to support and guide the teacher candidate by providing assistance/feedback to both the teacher candidate and cooperating teacher. The teacher candidate and cooperating teacher depend upon the University Supervisor as the primary university contact. The Cooperating Teacher also plays a critical role in the professional development of the teacher candidate. Cooperating Teachers must have a valid teaching certification/license for current teaching assignment and a minimum of three years of experience at the current teaching assignment.  All University Supervisors and cooperating teachers are required to attend an orientation each semester.  The orientation serves as a platform for professional development and training regarding university supervisor and cooperating teacher responsibilities and training.  Further, all new university supervisors receive 3-day training in the student teacher evaluation by a 4.0 certified faculty and earn state certification as a SCTS Rubric 4.0 Evaluator before commencing their supervisory responsibilities.  After the completion of the internship semester, the three members of the triad team (cooperating teacher, university supervisor, and intern) complete feedback surveys on the CT and US.  Each expectation or survey criteria have been evaluated by our TEAC partners (group of school administrators, teachers, and university supervisors) for the essentiality of each expectation towards assessing quality educators.

Over the past 5-7 years, the TRIAD survey data was kept in intern folders and used informally.  Beginning in AY 2018-19, the EPP began tracking the data as part of our Office of Field Experiences data.  Overall CT feedback on internship US (fall 2018, n=24, mean rating: 3.85; spring 2019, n=31, mean rating: 3.67),  US feedback on CT (fall 2018, n=30, mean rating: 3.75; spring 2019, n=38, mean rating: 3.67), Intern feedback on CT (fall 2018, n=16, mean rating: 3.73; spring 2019, n=41, mean rating: 3.65),  Intern feedback on US (fall 2018, n=15, mean rating: 3.85; spring 2019, n=32, mean rating: 3.65) were well-above the 3.0 target rating.  Some actions taken as a result of the TRIAD surveys include:  1) scheduling of observations, meetings, and evaluations (FE will provide student teaching observation/evaluation expectations calendar); 2) Improved communication; 3) theme was recognized concerning the training, understanding and consistent application of 4.0 standards and scoring of those standards SCTS 4.0 CT's training prior to internship. Two members of our FE and Accreditation office has been certified Trainers for SCTS Rubric 4.0.  We are now able to train our CT's in 4.0, as their district office has given them until their next renewal credit date until training is mandatory; 4) University Supervisors identified as needing improvement will be tracked for future action.  

Prior to the academic year 2018-19, the student interns only evaluated the cooperating teachers at the end of internship.  As the teacher candidates are evaluated throughout the professional program, the Office of Field Experience and the PDS committee conferred and decided to implement field experience cooperating teaching evaluations beginning in the practicum teaching sequence.  Therefore, teacher candidates currently evaluate field experience clinical educators.  Field experience cooperating teachers are evaluated on 6 related criteria (learning environment, best practices, facilitating professional growth, classroom management, feedback, and modelling of methods for all students) using a four-point scale of Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, Somewhat Disagree, and Strongly Disagree.  In Fall 2018, we received 114 responses to the survey. Of that number, 6 did not recommend their CT for future participation in the Practicum program (94.73% agreement; nearly 86% strongly agreed).  Highest score (3.81): The CT modeled effective classroom management strategies, with expectations, routines and procedures.    Lowest score (3.72): The CT modeled methods to reach and teach ALL students in the class and The CT provided frequent, constructive, specific feedback to the Candidate (tied).  In Spring 2019, we received 86 responses to the survey. Of that number, four (4) participants did not recommend their CT for future participation in the practicum program (93.9% agreement; 81% strongly agreed). Highest score (3.80): The CT worked to develop a positive, helpful, mentoring relationship with the Candidate.  Lowest score (3.66): The CT modeled methods to reach and teach ALL students in the class.  The Office of Field Experience has reviewed the data, noted the responses in the Cooperating Teacher Pool database, and will use this information to inform future placement decisions.

The EPP has developed and implemented a number of strategies to ensure that field-based and clinical experiences are addressed in a logical and sequential manner. All candidates are provided a variety of field-based and clinical experiences. Field-based and clinical experiences reflect the conceptual framework of the EPP and the USCA tenets of citizenship and community. Candidates develop as dynamic educators through a developmental sequence of clinical and field experiences that begin at observation and evolve to full-time teaching and professional responsibilities under the guidance of highly qualified clinical educators.

USC Aiken's education programs require field experiences that provide a variety of progressive experiences in multiple settings. Candidates are placed in schools that are diverse in cultural, ethnic, linguistic, gender, and learning differences. Our candidates have field experiences in high poverty Title I middle schools.  Candidates are exposed to Special Education programs, ELL programs, and gifted programs. Diversity is met by showing a range of differences in at least three of the five identified categories of gender, ethnicity/race, socioeconomic status (determined by percentage of student population receiving free or reduced lunch), academic exceptionalities (determined by percentage of special education students), and language diversity (determined by percentage of student population identified as ELL).  Candidates participate in a variety of field experiences throughout our program in both rural and suburban placements as part of their preparation. The field placements are designed to progressively increase candidates' engagement with P-12 students. All candidates must complete a minimum of 100 practicum hours prior to clinical practice (student teaching internship) at the initial undergraduate level. Prior to entering the Professional Program, candidates complete 20 hours of observation in a classroom in their anticipated area of specialization. Once accepted into the Professional Program, candidates are actively engaged in 3 additional practicum experiences with increasing responsibilities in the classroom.

All internship placements comply with the State Department criteria for selecting cooperating schools and teachers; therefore, all assignments are subject to the approval of the school district office, the cooperating school, cooperating teacher, the Office of Field Experiences, and the School of Education in conjunction with university faculty. Once placements have been made, adjustments in an intern's assignment will require prior approval by the appropriate school district official and the Director of Field Experiences.  State law mandates that all interns are assigned to schools for a semester consisting of a minimum of 60 school days. However, the USCA School of Education requires interns to be in the schools the entire semester (until the last senior seminar date).

Although the PDS committee is a long-established entity of the EPP, prior to 2015 the  PDS committee's role was primarily focused on field experience placements without clearly defined quality assurance processes in place.  Beginning in 2015, the PDS committee began to expand its role to include practicum curriculum review, field experience clinical educator evaluation and developmental and diverse field placements to ensure that all candidates receive a variety of field experiences related to their grade level and content area. 

The EPP continuously evaluates candidate performance through key assessments administered during clinical experiences.  Further, clinical educators and EPP faculty offer ongoing feedback throughout the clinical field experiences.  During their student teaching internship, candidates also participate in a senior seminar course facilitated by the Field Experience Coordinator.  From the 2015-18 student teacher evaluation exemplary pass rates and 1-3 year teacher state evaluation data, our candidates and alumni have demonstrated their effectiveness as K-12 educators.  Data indicates that employers of USCA School of Education graduates believe that our completer have the holistic skills required for teaching in K-12 school including: professional, collaborators, who have a strong content and pedagogical knowledge of their licensure area and major(s).  Areas of improvement were limited to more specified skills related to time management, classroom management, deconstructing standards. The exit survey data from the Fall 2017-Spring 2018 academic years demonstrate that EPP completers feel well-prepared to teaching in K-12 contexts. The completers rated their satisfaction (very satisfied and satisfied) level between 80-100% for EPP preparation regarding high expectations, short range planning, learning environment, professionalism, and instructional strategies.  The SOE faculty collaborated on goal setting to strengthen the preparation areas of long range planning, academic advising, and ELL instruction in upcoming semesters to include more intensive academic advising training and support, required EPP-created lesson plan assessments across programs, and culturally responsive instruction as learning modules within all professional program practicum curricula and courses. The EPP will continue to review our completer exit surveys and make modifications to our EPP as appropriate. 

Technology is an integral part of field and clinical experiences. Every practicum course and internship clinical practice require candidates to design lesson plans that incorporate technology to foster teaching and learning for P-12 students.  Technology integration is a key component of the USCA Lesson Plan and the SCTS Rubric 4.0 assessments that candidates use throughout practicum and internship experiences.  Further, during internship the candidates implement a pre- post- assessment plan as the Student Learning Objective (SLO) proprietary assessment that measures a candidate's impact on student achievement through technology-based, data-driven instructional decision-making.

The EPP has also reflected on the implementation of the ISTE Standards in all professional program courses.  Additionally, in fall 2018, the EPP began utilizing Task Stream and an internal EPP data tracking system to gather and store data for teacher candidates.  We are endeavoring to document our data collection and analysis process to show how we use the data evidence to inform our continuous improvement across programs of study in the USC-Aiken School of Education. We continue to work towards systematic analysis, interpretation, and documentation for EPP improvement.

Standard 3: Candidate Recruitment, Retention, and Selectivity

Through a carefully monitored developmental professional program, teacher candidate quality and ability to teach effectively are evaluated from recruitment through graduation and licensure. The EPP has designed progressive benchmarks for monitoring teacher candidates that lead to data-based decision-making regarding candidate quality, selectivity, and progress. The EPP ensures the successful progression of the professional program students as they evolve from teacher candidates to effective licensed professional educators that positively impact P-12 student learning.

Evidence provided in Standard 3 combined with the EPP's Recruitment Plan and a developmental professional program sequence of coursework, clinical experiences, and assessments allows for the continuous monitoring, analysis, and data for decision-making regarding quality teacher candidate preparation from recruitment through program completion. The EPP is cognizant of the challenges and areas of growth in candidate quality. The EPP has designed a system to monitor candidate development through the professional program, as the EPP uses data-driven decision-making to promote EPP-wide transformation. The Recruitment Plan begins at the middle school level and is diversity-focused to meet the teacher vacancy needs within the state of South Carolina. Candidates' demonstration of knowledge, skills and dispositions is assessed at sequential benchmark points throughout the teacher education program. By graduation, EPP candidates are well-prepared as ethical professional educators who will positively impact diverse PK-12 student learning. As further proof of candidate quality, our main partner district Aiken County Public School District has offered 100% of teacher candidates interning in ASCD employment contracts.

The EPP recognizes the need to recruit and support completion for high quality candidates from various backgrounds and diverse populations.  The Recruitment and Retention Committee (EPP faculty and PK-12 partner educators) meets regularly to address efforts related to areas of opportunity to build infrastructure and to identify sites for recruitment of such high quality candidates. The recruitment and retention committee has identified a number of ways in which we could shift the focus of our efforts to include: 1) evaluate the diversity levels in our programs and among completers; 2) determine clear language about diversity goals; 3) compile financial resources available to teacher candidates and make visible in the recruitment efforts; and 4) develop stronger infrastructure to monitor how these efforts are being addressed across the school of education programs.

In 2016, the EPP in collaboration with the Recruitment and Retention committee was charged with creating a recruitment plan to specifically address: 1) recruitment at the K-12 level; 2) recruitment in high needs areas; 3) financial aid availability; and 4) retention efforts. The recruitment and retention committee has also made some recommendations about areas that we can possibly pursue further to increase our numbers of diverse, highly qualified teacher candidates.  The plan and corresponding data is reviewed annually by the Recruitment and Retention Committee and shared with the EPP. Of particular note, is the EPP's recruitment efforts in local middle schools and high schools.  The EPP's recruitment at the K-12 Level includes the Pro-Team program, the Teacher Cadet program,  the Teaching Fellows program, and Open Houses.  The Pro-Team program is an initiative that allows USC Aiken SoE to foster relationships with middle level students as well as promote college, especially a major in Education, as a viable choice for middle school students in the Teacher Cadet program. The Teacher Cadet program is a joint venture with 14 local high schools whereby the high school students take a course in the education as well as have a field placement. This program allows USC Aiken SoE to recruit students out of high school into the field of education. The Teaching Fellows program, sponsored by the State of South Carolina, affords high achieving students a substantial scholarship in return for choosing to major in education and teach in South Carolina for five years. Each year, the Teaching Fellows Director along with faculty, reflect on the number of applicants received and ways to make the numbers grow and the program even stronger.  Finally, USC Aiken Admissions Department hosts four Open House events per year. These events showcase the program, life as a teacher, and allow students and families to connect with the SoE and faculty.  Further, the EPP has a MOU with a 2+2 program with Aiken Technical College that allows for students to finish their bachelor's degree in ECE at USCA.  Financial support comes in the form of numerous local scholarships and the Rural Teachers Initiative, Teach Grant, Call Me Mister, and SC Teacher Loans Program.

Several measures of diversity at the initial level are tracked to determine trends and identify areas that require more focus and work. These measures include ethnicity, gender, self-disclosed disabilities, financial aid qualifiers, and high need subject area candidates (science, mathematics, or special education). The data indicates that the last three academic years have shown an upward trend in the enrollment number of diverse candidates admitted to the USCA School of Education professional program.  From fall 2016 through spring 2019, the ethnic and racial diversity of the EPP candidates averaged 18.62%.  At the program level, from fall 2016-spring 2019, the lowest enrollment percentages occurred in the SPED program at 17% up to 22% in the MLE program.  Further, from 2016-2018, a 23.74% increase in enrollment occurred, including an 160% increase in male candidates, 42.86% increase in African American candidates.  To continue this trend, the EPP collaborates with ACPSD, Aiken Technical College, and Call Me Mister (CMM) programs to support diverse male enrollment.  With funding support from Aiken County, male students spend two years at Aiken Tech, and then complete degree requirements for certification at USC Aiken.  The EPP welcomed the first cohort of Call Me Mister scholars to the USCA campus in Fall 2019. 

In South Carolina, critical needs areas include special education, science, math, literacy, middle level (all content areas), and ELA/English. Percentages below indicate the percentage of unfilled positions in each area in South Carolina. Consequently, these areas were identified as "Loan Cancellation" areas in 2017-2018: SPED (20%); science (16%); math (13%); MLE (12%); and ELA/English (11%).  Comparably, USC Aiken's programs (2016-19 averages) enroll 11% in SPED; 9% in science and math; 10% in MLE; and 2% in ELA/English.   While USCA doesn't award certification exclusively in literacy, all program and content areas require students to complete Read to Succeed (SC, 2014) coursework in literacy instruction. Consequently, all of the enrolled ECE, ELEM, and SPED teacher candidates complete between 2 and 4 required literacy courses.  Rural areas of South Carolina struggle to recruit and retain certified teachers (Supply & Demand Report- CERRA). The EPP's 2+2 program at USC SALK was developed to address this need in the rural SE corner of South Carolina (between Allendale and Colleton counties) - one of the poorest areas in the state. Students take the initial 2 years of their degree at USC SALK's Allendale and Walterboro campuses.  Additionally, the EPP began providing the same program at the USC Sumter campus beginning in fall 2019.

The South Carolina Department of Education has established requirements for professional program admission as follows:

EPP's must ensure that candidates meet minimum admission requirements at the initial and advanced levels. At the initial undergraduate level, candidates must present:

  • Acceptable scores on Praxis Core exams
  • 45 hours of required college-level work
  • A minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 or higher to be admitted to candidacy
  • A statement of disclosure concerning all prior convictions to include felonies and misdemeanors

Teacher candidates are required to submit evidence of each of these requirements at the time of their application to the professional program.  Additionally, all teacher candidates must complete content curriculum for initial licensure programs including multiple credit hours of required  content courses in English, math, communications, science, history, psychology, and critical inquiry.  The data are disaggregated by required pre-professional common course grades over the past three academic years (2016- 17, 2017-18, and 2018-19).  Based on the mean scores, teacher education majors scored at (within .10) or above the level of their non-teacher education peers for 30% of the courses.  Fifty percent of the 3-year mean scores were above 2.75 GPA and 92% (11/12) above a 2.5 GPA. This data ensures that our candidates have a firm liberal arts foundation as they begin their professional program coursework.

Beyond, cumulative GPA's, standardized core content and licensure exams, the EPP has begun reflecting on student dispositions at various points of progression throughout the profession program. This CAEP self-study served as an impetus for the development of a formal data collection process for candidate dispositions. The EPP worked tirelessly with the stakeholder advisory committee (TEAC) to develop a Dispositions Evaluation. The dispositions assessment includes candidate self-assessment and an assessment of the candidate by faculty, mentor/cooperating teacher, and supervisors. Identified through a content validity analysis with the advisory (TEAC) council, the new disposition assessment focuses on six key areas:  attitude, commitment, diversity, personal appearance, responsibility, ethics and professionalism. It is designed to measure and track candidate dispositions at specific program points for candidates to self-reflect on their dispositions (entry, mid-way, and at end of the professional program) and for faculty to assess candidate dispositions as they progress throughout the program (Junior block, Senior block, and internship). The dispositions assessment is a 3-point Likert scale survey with ratings ranging from unacceptable, acceptable, to target. Since the tool is a subjective survey, inter-rater reliability could not be established. As the new disposition evaluation was not launched until fall 2018, progressive professional program progression data are still being collected regarding candidate dispositions assessments. The new disposition assessment has been used to provide consistency EPP-wide for monitoring dispositions as well as establish specific program points for which disposition assessment will take place for all candidates. Dispositional data will be provided for the CAEP site visit in March 2020.

In addition to the EPP disposition assessments, the School of Education revised the SoE Advising Handbook.  This handbook was created to meet the specific needs of Education students and to assist advisors in navigating the teacher education program and the ever-changing databases and resources that are needed to guide students to success. Students at USCA are required to be advised before each registration period. However, students should take the initiative to develop a close working relationship with their advisor. Students must be proactive in regards to their educational plans. Likewise, an Academic Advisor assists a student in pursuing his/her educational goals and facilitating access to the full range of learning opportunities and services available at USC Aiken.  Further beginning in Fall 2019, the SoE also has an advisement coordinator responsible for the advisement of all pre-professional candidates and advising training of SoE faculty and staff.

The Teacher Candidate Quality Benchmarks and Professional Program Progression identifies sequential benchmark points for decision-making as the candidates progress through the professional program.  As a South Carolina requirement, candidates must pass all the required components of each benchmark point from entry to exit of the teacher education program (and licensure eligibility). From professional program admission through completion candidates' academic achievement is carefully monitored by EPP faculty advisers.  Upon admission, EPP candidates must have a minimum cumulative 2.75 GPA and passing scores on the Praxis Core reading and math exams (or an ACT composites score above 22 or SAT above 1100).   Of the 2015-2018 EPP potential candidates that were not exempted for the Praxis Core (Reading, Math, and Writing), 66% passed.  By admission, all (100%) EPP candidates passed the exam in all areas.  Cohort mean scores for teacher education candidates on both the Praxis CORE exams have consistently been at or above the average national performance ranges (50th percentile).

Further, candidates must maintain the overall 3.0.  GPA to continue to progress in the teacher education program.  The Intern data demonstrate that from fall 2016 through spring 2019 teacher education candidates have consistently an overall mean GPA well above the CAEP required GPA of 3.0 throughout the professional program (2016-17: 3.46; 2017-18: 3.64; 2018-19: 3.46).  All data are disaggregated by licensure area.

The assessments used during the practicum field experiences and student teaching clinical experiences are developmentally sequenced to measure candidate growth from entry through graduation and licensure are aligned to the 10 InTASC Standards.  The USCA Lesson Plan Assessment is administered as a formative assessment (at the beginning and end of each semester) in the methods and practicum classes of the junior and senior block pre-student teaching semesters.  The USCA Lesson Plan rubric is adapted from the SCTS Rubric 4.0 and is meant to prepare pre-internship candidates for the larger SCTS Rubric 4.0 assessment that is used in internship and as the in-service teacher evaluation for all P-12 public school teachers in South Carolina.  The scoring criteria is on the same 4-point scale.  During the pre-student teaching practicum experience the expectation is that candidates will perform on the USCA Lesson Plan at an Approaching/Needs Improvement (2) to Proficient (3) level. The USCA Lesson Plan pilot results indicate that the majority of junior and senior block candidates are achieving at the Approaching (2) level or higher.

The following assessments are primarily used to determine teacher candidate success at program completion:  Praxis II Subjects assessments and PLT (knowledge), SCTS Rubric 4.0 and SLO assessment (skills), and Dispositions Assessment (dispositions).

For eligibility for licensure in South Carolina, teacher candidates must pass the ETS Praxis II (content)  and PLT (pedagogy) exams. Most teacher candidates will take these tests just prior to or during their internship semester. The tests are not required for graduation. The Praxis II and PLT pass rates have been exemplary for the last 3 academic years (2015-16 = 98%, 2016-17 = 100%, 2017-18 = 96%). Further, the Praxis II (content) and PLT (pedagogy) exam (exams required to receive licensure in SC) have been within 3 percentage points of the statewide average for the 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 academic years. From the disaggregated data, we are effectively preparing our teacher candidates for teaching in their designated program area and subjects.  At the professional program completion, candidate outcomes on the Praxis II and PLT exams from 2015 - 2018 demonstrate competency content and pedagogical knowledge, performing at or above state means.

The candidates are evaluated at internship using the SCTS Rubric 4.0 and the Student Learning Objective (SLO) assessment instruments are used for scoring during the student teaching internship.  In addition to the SCTS 4.0 and SLO internship assessments, the overall Student Teaching Evaluation is completed at mid- and end of the student teaching semester, as "pass" or "fail". During internship, candidates are expected to perform on the SCTS 4.0 at a Proficient (3) to Exemplary (4) level.  Similarly, data from the SCTS 4.0 showed composite scores and the primary 4.0 Rubric section mean scores (planning, instruction, environment, and professionalism - aligned to ADEPT and InTASC) by program area for the spring 2019 and fall 2018 semesters.  In the fall of 2018, all specialty program areas, composite scores fell within the proficient range:  ECE (3.45), ELEM (3.32), MLE (3.02), SEC (3.52), and SPED (3.76).   Further, each SLO is aligned to the specialty program area national standards.  In 2018, the SLO replaced the Teacher Work Sample as a proprietary assessment for all educational preparation programs across South Carolina.   Therefore, we only have one academic year (2018-19) of data for the SLO.  The range of scores on the individual criteria from the SLO is "acceptable" or "target" for all elements indicating our candidates' abilities as aligned with South Carolina Standards.   The fall 2018 data indicated that all teacher candidates achieved mastery in every category.  The overall candidate outcomes for the spring 2019 semester, demonstrated an average 2.72 score (out of a possible 3) or 91% mastery of the 10 SLO rubric areas.  The scores were varied across candidates and program areas, indicating sufficient preparation of the spring 2019 interns in all areas.  Teacher Work Sample (TWS) data from the Fall 2016-Spring 2018 semester indicated that all teacher candidates achieved mastery in every category (Assessment Plan, Design for Instruction, Instructional Decision Making and Analysis of Student learning).  Data from the Student Teacher Results Summary of competency in the 4 ADEPT Performance Domains that are directly aligned to the 10 InTASC Standards. A 100% pass rate for student teacher candidates across the academic years 2015-2018 demonstrated proficiency on all InTASC Standards, scoring at the Acceptable or Target levels.  Mean scores from the SCTS 4.0 and SLO (spring 2019) were higher than the USCA Lesson Plan mean scores (fall 2018 and spring 2019). This would indicate candidates demonstrated growth in the 4 InTASC Categories and preparedness for professional P-12 teaching.   Finally, over 90% of EPP graduates in 2015-16 earned licensure in their major.  In 2016-17, >80% of SoE graduates had received initial certification status. In 2017-18, 94% of graduates earned initial teacher licensure in SC.  Based on this data, EPP interns demonstrate the standards-relevant competency and skills necessary to begin their professional teaching practice.

The EPP monitors candidate progress related to technology knowledge and skills throughout the teacher education program. Through coursework and clinical experiences, candidates develop the skills to use various technologies in their professional practice and to promote P-12 student learning. Candidates apply a variety of technologies in the P-12 classroom in multiple field experiences, using them as instructional tools and to measure P-12 student progress.  On the EPP completer exit surveys (Fall 2017, Spring 2018, & Fall 2018) support completer use of technology in PK-12 classrooms and satisfaction in regards to preparation related to technology.  Through the fall 2017 - fall 2018 semesters, nearly 90% of completers expressed satisfaction with their educational technology preparation.  Similarly, employers (N=10) rated completer preparation high (100% "well-prepared" or "prepared") in use of a variety of instructional strategies to enhance learning for diverse learners by providing equitable learning opportunities.  All (100%) of employers surveyed (N=10) expressed that USCA teacher education graduates are well-prepared to teach in diverse populations.  Further, all majors except Early Childhood Education (ECE) must complete EDUC 245-Technology for Teaching and Learning.  ECE majors compile e-portfolios related to integrating. technology in ECE classrooms. The required educational technology course includes the following ISTE competencies demonstrated: facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity, design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments, model digital age work and learning, and engage in professional growth and leadership. Mastery of the integration of technology was evident for all teacher candidates who took the EDUC 245 course over the past 3 semesters (spring 2019, fall 2018, and spring 2019).  Further, the SLO assessment has a candidate's impact on student achievement through technology-based, data-driven instructional decision making component. Candidates must provide evidence that they can design lessons that meet the needs of all children. In our common USCA Lesson Plan assessment, candidates must specifically address how they are meeting the needs of all children and integrating technology into all instruction.  More recently, the EPP faculty reflected on the integration of the technology ISTE standards into the teacher education coursework to better prepare USCA teacher candidates to model, design, and assess technology-based learning experiences and improve their professional practice.  According to the survey, the majority of  EPP teacher education courses integrate, current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning (www.iste.org). 

Imperative to developing successful professional P-12 teachers, is an understanding of the expectations and dispositions necessary to the profession.  The EPP has a long-established dispositional policy where struggling students receive the structured guidance through a Dispositions Incident Report and a process of improvement to support teacher candidates' in their dispositional evolution. Thus, the EPP is proactive contract if there is a concern (i.e., GPA below 3.0, academic or professional misconduct or dishonesty, unacceptable dispositional scores on the Disposition Evaluation, incident of misbehavior deemed unethical, inappropriate social media posts, ...) with a candidate's knowledge, skills or dispositions at any point during the teacher education program. The Dispositions Policy outlines this process that begins with a Dispositions Incident Report and if further action is deemed necessary by the Dean, the Professional Education Committee (PEC) convenes and holds a hearing with the student.  If corrective action is required, the candidate develops an Action Plan of goals and activities that effectively lead to the remediation of the specific areas of concern and presents the Action Plan to the PEC.  The following PEC recommendations may result: a) the student/candidate to continues/resumes degree program progress; b) further remediation; c) dismissal from the Teacher Education Program.  Although the EPP's Dispositional Policy has been in place for many years, the EPP had not encountered serious dispositional incidents or behaviors with any candidates until the current academic year (2018-19).  A close monitoring of candidate progress in knowledge, skills and dispositions and a well-documented formal dispositional review process, as well as a diversity focus within the EPP and its programs as a unit, has allowed the EPP to be proactive in effectively mentoring our teacher candidates in a well-documented manner.  Moving forward, this process will be monitored closely by the Dean, the PEC, and the program coordinator for each candidate's specialty area of study

Further, the Model Code of Ethics for Educators (MCEE) is foundation to the EPP.  The purpose of the Model Code of Ethics for Educators (MCEE) is to serve as a shared ethical guide for future and current educators faced with the complexities of P-12 education. The code establishes principles for ethical best practice, mindfulness, self-reflection and decision-making, setting the groundwork for self- regulation and self-accountability. The five pillars of ethics are responsibility to:  1) the Profession; 2) Professional Competence; 3) Students 4) Parents/Guardians, Colleagues, the Community and Employers; and 5) Ethical Use of Technology.  Teacher candidates are introduced to the MCEE in the Professional Program Application Seminar. In this course, they are required to read the MCEE and sign a verification form indicating their understanding of the MCEE.   All teacher education candidates take Dynamics of American Public Education (EDFN 321).  Educational ethics and policy are foundational to the course and projects.  From the academic years 2015-16 (n = 106), 2016-17 (n = 78), 2017-18 (n = 79), and 2018-19 (n =  78),  EPP teacher candidates' mean course performance (2015-16: 3.2 ; 2016-17: 3.5 ; 2017-18: 3.4 ; 2018-19: 3.3; Overall: 3.5) was well- above the 3.0 expectations and CAEP requirements for the course.  In addition, the Praxis PLT exam covers diversity, students with exceptionalities, professionalism and ethics in Sections I and IV of the assessment. Section I (Students as Diverse Learners), candidates understanding of legislation (IDEA, ADA, and 504 plans) and its influence on classroom instruction for students with exceptionalities.  Section IV (Professional Development, Leadership and Community), measures candidate understanding of their role in school leadership and professionalism and legislation and policy related to equitable access, mandated reporting, due process, liability, and the First Amendment.  All candidates must pass the PLT to be licensure eligible in South Carolina. Further, all candidates must take EDEX A200: Introduction to People with Exceptionalities with the exception of Special Education majors. Special Education majors have this information integrated throughout their program.   The survey course covers the development of special education, the current legal guidelines with emphasis on public school mandates and the various clusters of exceptionalities and inclusion in P-12 classrooms.

Standard 4: Program Impact

The EPP implements multiple measures as evidence of the impact of the EPP's completers on P-12 student learning and development, classroom instruction, and schools, and the satisfaction of its completers with the relevance and effectiveness of their preparation.  Through this CAEP self-study review process, the EPP realized that our CAEP Standard 4 impact and outcome measures required more focus moving forward.  Further, the state of South Carolina collects and disaggregates data from IHEs regarding teacher candidate in each EPP and statewide.  However, once teacher candidates graduate and move on to in-services teaching, IHEs do not have access to state data regarding individual teacher impact, teacher evaluation, employment 1-5 years post-graduation, employer or alumni satisfaction.  The EPP has been advocating to the state for access to the individual USCA completer and employer post-graduation data in the future.  For the purposes of this CAEP self-study, the EPP has been left to determine specifically how to gather needed evidence to address CAEP Standard 4.

Even though the EPP has collected and reviewed evidence to support CAEP Standard 4.1- 4.4, the EPP recognizes the limitations to the data evidence both at the EPP and state level.  The EPP works closely with the South Carolina Department of Education to monitor program and completer quality.  The EPP will continue to implement more formal means of tracking each component of Standard 4, as it endeavors toward ongoing EPP-wide evaluation and improvement.  Through a pilot case study and additional data on completers and their P-12 students, the EPP has demonstrated that its completers are effective educators with the dispositions, skills, and knowledge to positively influence P-12 learning and development.  Further, the completer exit survey data demonstrate that EPP completers are satisfied with the USCA teacher educator preparation program and the EPP completers' effectiveness as professional collaborative educators ready to serve P-12 learners in South Carolina.  As the South Carolina Department of Education continues to build stronger partnerships with IHEs, the EPP should have broader access to completer impact on P-12 learning data, employer and completer satisfaction, and employment, trajectory, and retention data.

The collection of completer impact on P-12 student learning growth data is an ongoing challenge for the EPP.  Meeting Standard 4.1 has proved particularly challenging because of the limited access to individual completer impact data and employment post-graduation data at the state level. The USCA EPP chose to focus improvement efforts on CAEP Standard 4.1 through the initial implementation of a pilot case study that has evolved into a larger completer case study that is currently being conducted.   For the purposes of this CAEP self-study, the EPP reached out to its main partner district (ACPSD - Aiken County Public School District) to collect data on  EPP completer impact on P-12 student learning. For many years,  ACPSD has been the leading employer (>90%) of USC Aiken School of Education program completers. In addition, ACPSD has offered teaching contracts to 100% of EPP completers that have interned in ACPSD since the 2017-2018.

As stated above, a pilot case study design was implemented to acquire evidence on CAEP Standard 4.1. This 2017-18 pilot case study emerged from a need to evaluate the impact on P-12 students  of our recent education major graduates.  Prior to this pilot case study, the EPP had only collected sporadic completer and employer data through informal means such as social media mining and email communication. The EPP had not developed a method to gather evidence in a more formal way. Therefore, the EPP contacted a major partnering district where the EPP had multiple program completers currently teaching and requested the 1-3 year (USC Aiken graduates 2016-2018) teachers' Spring 2018 content area testing benchmark scores and compared them to the scores of the partner district by grade level and subject area. This simple quantitative analysis will inform the emerging mixed methods instrumental embedded case study design  that the EPP will undertake moving forward to include data evidence from the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years.

In the pilot study, the EPP examined if the impact of recent alumni (1-3 years out across programs) on P-12 student learning.  As the EPP is allowed to phase-in our program improvement plan, this pilot study only has one cycle of data (AY 2017-18) at the time of the CAEP Self-Study Report.  For the purpose of CAEP SSR, the EPP focused on the quantitative MAPS data provided by our partner school district in which all case study participants (n=19) are/were employed.  Measuring growth and assessment (MAP) content and grade level scores were because MAP tests are nationally normed and validated and cover grades K-10. Further, MAP growth scores are a high quality indicator of K-12 learning across content areas. While limited, the data demonstrate that EPP completers positively impact P-12 learning growth. Fifty percent (9 of the n=18) of the pilot case study participants' Spring 2018 students demonstrated achievement at or above the participating district's P-12 student outcomes in the grade level content areas of 2nd grade reading, 4th grade science, 5th grade math, 7th grade social studies, and high school algebra. The 2nd Grade Reading Inventory results were 2.4 to 14.1% higher than district scores for 5 of the 6 participants teaching in 2nd Grade in Spring 2018. One participant's students scored 10.2% higher one the 4th Grade Science benchmarks. The 5th grade teacher participant had students who achieved a 95.9% pass rate compared to the district's average of 35.6 %. Further, our 73.9 % of our 7th Grade Social Studies teacher participant's students met or exceeded proficiency compared to 66.7% of 7th grade social studies partner district students. Finally, 21.9% of our high school math participant teacher's students met proficiency outcomes, 1.4% higher than the district outcomes. Of note is the years of teaching experience and the programs of study of the participants as they relate to their students' outcome data. Five out of the nine participants with positive outcome data were in their 2-3 year of teaching experience. The remaining four participants were first-year teachers. Further, four of the nine participants with positive outcome data were early childhood (ECE) majors, two were middle level education (MLE) majors, one was high school math, and two were elementary education majors (one of which had higher outcomes than the district in 4th Grade Science, but lower outcomes in 4th Grade ELA and Math). Conversely, seven elementary major participants had classroom pass percentages in 3rd and 4th Grade ELA and Math assessments under the participating county's averages. Only two out of the six early childhood teacher participants' showed lower student outcomes than the district outcomes.  Furthermore, one MLE participant's (n=3) student outcomes were below the district average in 8th Grade Science. The data evidence offers an overview, by participant, of the outcomes for each participant's P-12 students by grade level and content area test, comparing those scores to the overall district performance for the P-12 students on the corresponding MAPS assessments.  Further, the EPP found that the most positive outcome data came from early childhood (ECE) majors (although the EPP can only make general inferences with an n<10), the EPP inferred that our ECE program is doing an adequate job preparing ECE students to teach reading in K-2 classrooms. Since the number of participants in MLE (n=3) and high school (n=1) were limited, the EPP determined a larger, more detailed case study would be necessary to inform program improvement in an authentic way. The elementary major participants had classroom pass percentages in 3rd and 4th Grade ELA and Math assessments under the participating county's averages. Leading our CAEP Standards teams to ponder the efficacy of our Elementary Education program preparation in the areas of math and reading. However, when the EPP compared our Praxis Elementary Subject Area Assessment elementary pass percentages in math and ELA from September 2015 - August 2018 (the time period when all study participants would have taken the Praxis subject assessments), our completers' pass rates for both ELA and math were consistently above 80%. Content knowledge appears to be a strength for our completers, so the EPP also considered pedagogy as a potential area of growth. The EPP determined that a much more comprehensive case study was needed. The MAPS data analyzed in this study only consisted of one data point for each 1-3 teacher participants' students' scores per test to benchmark against the district overall scores on each grade level content exam.  Little pre-/post-assessment of learning growth could be determined from the data evidence provided. Based on the pilot study's limited results, the EPP decided a more in-depth case study focused on embedded cases (individual participants) within each program of study and utilizing data evidence beyond one set of standardized testing (MAPS and Praxis) data outcomes to include student learning objective (SLO) pre-/post-assessment data over the course of a semester or academic year would allow for a deeper dive into the preparedness of all of our completers' impact on student learning. Further, the upcoming instrumental case study will consist of employer satisfaction surveys of the participating cohort, triangulation of evidence from the SLO, employer surveys, and initial teaching evaluation scores regarding our participants to deepen our understanding of the teaching effectiveness, employer satisfaction and completer satisfaction of our 1-3 teacher alumni (CAEP Standards 4.2-4.4). Beginning in the academic year 2020-21, the EPP will be conducting focus group interviews of 2-3 alumni from each SoE professional program of study (Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle Level, Science, Math, Social Studies, English, and Special Education). As some of our programs may only have 1-3 current teachers involved in the study, anonymity will be paramount and if anonymity cannot be maintained for certain participants from a professional program of study (n<3), then the focus group participants will not include those identifiable participants. 

Prior to 2018, the South Carolina State Department of Education (SCDE) used the Assisting, Developing, and Evaluating Professional Teaching (ADEPT) Performance Standards for assessment of first through third year in-service teachers. The South Carolina ADEPT assessed teaching skills in planning, instructing, assessing and managing a classroom. ADEPT Performance Standards were grouped into four domains: planning, instruction, classroom environment, and professionalism. There were 10 standards with 34 ADEPT key elements. In-service teachers were rated based on the quality of their performance on each element based on ADEPT Performance expectations and standards which are directly aligned to the NIET and INTASC Standards. In the 2018-19 academic year, SC transitioned to the SCTS Rubric 4.0 assessment.

Learn more aabout the benefits of ADEPT

Learn more about educator effectiveness

From 2015-18, South Carolina school districts formally administered the SAFE-T Teaching Evaluation during a novice teacher's second year of teaching. In South Carolina, 2nd year public school teachers were evaluated over a minimum of 90 consecutive instructional days during an academic year consisting of two evaluation periods: a preliminary evaluation period and a final evaluation period (SAFE-T, A Guide for Teachers and Evaluators, 2010). The 2nd year teachers were evaluated by a SAFE-T trained evaluator team with a minimum of 2 members (school or district-based administrator and a content area expert) with a designated team chair. Further, the 2nd year teachers undergoing evaluation submitted a SAFE-T portfolio of lesson(s) and were observed throughout the evaluation period. The 2nd year teachers were required to pass all four domains of the evaluation rubric by end of the evaluation period and final evaluation decision. Educators were required to earn passing ratings in all domains to successfully complete the formal evaluation process. 2nd- year teachers had to pass the SAFE-T Formal Evaluation in order to continue teaching in South Carolina while advancing their teaching certification to a professional level and gaining eligibility for continuing-contract employment in the SC public schools. However, educators who fail to pass the SAFE-T Formal Evaluation twice had their teaching certificates suspended for a minimum of two years. In order to become eligible for certification reinstatement, these teachers had to complete a probationary plan developed by the South Carolina Department of Education. The number of program completers from USC Aiken successfully completing their SAFE-T Formal Evaluation is over 93% for the 2017-18 academic year and >97% for AY 2016-17, and >92.8% in AY 2015-16. From the 2015-18 student teacher evaluation exemplary pass rates and 1-3 year teacher ADEPT evaluation data, our candidates and alumni have demonstrated their effectiveness as K-12 educators.

Prior to South Carolina's adoption of the SCTS Rubric 4.0 teaching evaluation instrument as a major assessment for all teacher education programs, the faculty continually revisited the design and implementation of the ADEPT instrument. Over the years the length of the instrument has been shortened to make it more manageable for observers and students. The rubric had been revised to include a 5-point scale instead of a 3-point scale, permitting observers to make more discreet evaluations. Because of the 100% pass rate, it was difficult to draw conclusions about student performance other than to state that candidates are proficient on all aspects of ADEPT, scoring at the Acceptable or Target levels consistently. A long with other key assessments, consistent scores help assure the faculty that completers are effective educators that are knowledgeable about content, that they understand and apply pedagogical and professional content knowledge, skills, and dispositions, and that they are able to assess the effects of instruction on student learning.

According to the SoE graduate, certification, and employment data, the USC Aiken School of Education completer (graduated) numbers remained consistent for the academic years 2015-16 (49); 2016-17 (54); 2017-18 (50).  Further, the data trends regarding the likelihood of EPP completers to meet licensing (certification) in the academic year 2015-16, over 90% earned licensure in their program of study. In 2016-17, >80% of SoE graduates had received initial certification status. By AY 2017-18, 94% of graduates earned initial teacher licensure in South Carolina. The percentage of completers rose ten percent in 2016-17 and the initial licensure rate fell the same percentage, this could account for the downward trend from 2015-16 to 2016-17.  However, in 2017-18 the percentage of USCA completers earning licensure was at 94%. Therefore, over the past three academic years there was an upward trend in the % of completers who earned initial licensure within a year of graduation.  USCA overall Praxis II and PLT pass rates have been exemplary for the last 3 academic years (2015-16 = 98%, 2016-17 = 100%, 2017-18 = 96%). Further, the Praxis II (content) and PLT (pedagogy) exam (exams required to receive licensure in SC) have been within 3-percentage points of the statewide average for the 2015-16, 16-17, and 17-18 academic years. Additionally, the EPP has put measures in place for candidates to receive improved advising, specialized preparation software, and vouchers to help students cover exam costs.

In further consideration of the EPP's completers meeting CAEP Standard 4.2, USC-Aiken benchmarked with USC Upstate to compare and contrast our Educator Preparation Programs' quality based on our South Carolina SAFE-T evaluations of completers. For the student teacher intern formal evaluations for 2015-2018, USC Aiken and USC Upstate initial licensure program graduates have earned a high pass rate (USC Aiken: 93.02. - 97.37%; USC Upstate: 95 - 97.5%). Both institutions' pass percentages for their student teacher interns' evaluations were within two percentage points for all three academic years measured. Further, the EPP's Praxis exam pass rates compared to USC-Upstate data demonstrated the pass rate percentages for USC Aiken were 3% points higher than USC Upstate in 2015-16 with a considerably lower number of completers (48 vs. 119), making the 3 percentage point difference more significant. 

Data indicates that employers of USC Aiken School of Education graduates believe that our completer have the holistic skills required for teaching in K-12 school including: professional, collaborators, who have a strong content and pedagogical knowledge of their licensure area and major(s). Further, our SoE has produced over 35 First Year Teachers of the Year in the past 4 academic years (TEAC.Spring2019). Further, the advisory stakeholder committee TEAC Feedback of USC Aiken SoE Graduates data indicate that employers of EPP graduates believe that our completers have the holistic skills required for teaching in K-12 school including: professional collaborators who have a strong content and pedagogical knowledge in their licensure area and major(s). EPP graduates areas of strength were familiarity with evaluation process and system, professionalism, collaboration, and content knowledge. Areas of improvement were limited to more specified skills related to time management, classroom management, training in multiple assessment methods, and deconstructing standards. The TEAC members requested more EPP-lead professional developmental, particularly in the area of special education. In response to the TEAC feedback improve our collaboration per TEAC feedback, the EPP have scheduled socio-emotional learning (SEL) training for over 30 Pre-K teachers in our main partner district (ACPSD)  to include two IRB approved SPED research studies on SEL with the district's 600 pre-school students and EPP - ACPSD professional development collaboration.

Prior to the 2016-17 academic year, USC Aiken did not have a system in place to track our completers' employment after graduation. The USCA Career Services office has only recently (within the last year) begun to track specifics regarding graduates' employment. Therefore, the EPP had limited employment information. For 2016-17, 33 out of 54 completers were identified as employed in P-12 public schools. The data was self-reported through email surveys and social media mining and our remaining 21 completer data was not obtained. The data collected for the 2017-18 academic year was even more promising as 88% (44 of 50 graduates) were employed as teachers, 6 completers' post-graduate employment status was unknown. Starting in 2017-18, the EPP had begun to compile employment information from graduates and from our partnering school districts in a more organized and cohesive way.  Starting in 2017-18, the EPP had begun to compile employment information from graduates and from our partnering school districts in a more organized and cohesive way. Moving forward, the EPP plans to collect employment information from graduates for a minimum of 5 years post-graduation. Further, the EPP is currently conducting an instrumental case study of a 2017-18 cohort of 1-3 year teachers who graduated from the EPP. The EPP is also documenting alumni employment information as part of the EPP's data collection system.

For the past 5-7 years at the end of each semester, the EPP faculty have reviewed and discussed intern final evaluations with TEAC members and ACPSD representatives. The EPP has worked closely with Aiken County Public School District to continuously refine the teacher education program to better meet the ever changing employment needs of ACPSD. This process took place over a 2-year period. The EPP reviewed the 2-year professional program and completer data with the main partner district, Aiken County Public Schools, and consistently updated, reviewed and modified so that our completers are strong, trained to use the Aiken county specific programs and ready for the classroom. Further, the likelihood of EPP completers to be hired in education positions for which they have prepared is 100% for 2017-18 and 2018-19 interns in the main feeder school district (ACPSD) where 90% of EPP student teacher interns are placed.  Over the past two academic years, all EPP student teacher interning in ACPSD have received employment contracts immediately upon completion of their internship.

As the EPP has tracked employer satisfaction solely by informal means, an employer satisfaction survey instrument has been created to measure the preparedness of the EPP program completers on a 4-point scale (ranging from 4 - "well-prepared" to 1 - "not prepared") in the areas of instruction, planning, collaboration, and professionalism.  During the spring 2019, the instrument was validated (content validity) by non-EPP faculty TEAC members who indicated that all descriptors of the rubric were essential to measuring completer preparation and quality. In May 2019, the EPP emailed and distributed the survey instrument to TEAC members and school administrators of the pilot case student participants.  The response rate was well below (n=3) the minimum of 10 responses necessary to make any quality inferences from the results.  Therefore, the survey will be administered to employers (hand delivered by the Director of Field Supervision with follow-up emails) as part of the ongoing case study evidence beginning in the fall 2020 semester. 

The EPP completer exit data from the Fall 2017-Spring 2018 academic years indicate that USC-Aiken SoE completers feel well-prepared to teaching in diverse K-12 contexts. Between 80-100% of completers rated their satisfaction level ("satisfied" or "very Satisfied") for EPP preparation in: high expectations, short range planning, learning environment, professionalism, and instructional strategies. The majority of satisfaction percentages (60%+) fell in the "very satisfied" to "satisfied" range. Long range planning, ELL instructional strategies, and academic advising were the areas that student had rated as the least satisfactory but still fell within the target satisfaction range. The EPP faculty collaborated on goal setting to strengthen these preparation areas (long range planning, academic advising, and ELL instruction) in upcoming semesters to include more intensive academic advising training and support, required unit plans or e-portfolio of lesson(s) across programs, and culturally responsive instruction as learning modules within all professional program practicum curricula and courses. The EPP will continue to review the completer exit surveys and make modifications to the EPP as appropriate.

Further relating the cross-cutting themes of diversity and technology to component 4.4, the EPP completer exit surveys support completer use of technology in PK-12 classrooms and satisfaction in regards to preparation related to technology. Between the Fall 2017 - Fall 2018, nearly 80% of completers expressed satisfaction with the EPP preparation to teach diverse learners overall, while just over 50% felt prepared to work with English language learners. Similarly, employers (N=10) rated completer preparation high (100% "well-prepared" or "prepared") in use of a variety of instructional strategies to enhance learning for diverse learners by providing equitable learning opportunities. All (100%) of employers surveyed (N=10) expressed that USCA teacher education graduates are well-prepared to teach in diverse populations. However, one principal expressed the need for social justice training and another recommended the need to train teacher candidates on "having difficult conversations with students about diversity." In response to the survey data regarding teaching diverse student populations, the EPP faculty implemented face-to-face SPED courses and workshops to better prepare candidates to teach students with exceptionalities and the May 2017 revision of the SoE Lesson Plan template to include diversity, accommodations, and modifications.

Standard 5: Provider Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement

University of South Carolina Aiken SoE's quality assurance system (QAS) supports a culture of program evaluation and continuous improvement through an evidence-based monitoring system. The QAS consists of data collection and analyses of valid and reliable multiple measures of EPP completer effectiveness and progress and EPP-wide operational effectiveness. The EPP utilizes representative, relevant, actionable, and cumulative data. The EPP uses the data collected and analyzed improve the EPP overall and candidate outcomes. The QAS allows for the EPP to set and adjust goals as the EPP evolves and transforms to meet national and state standards.

The substantial evidence presented in CAEP Standards 1-5 demonstrates the EPP's ability to disseminate data from multiple valid, cumulative, and actionable measures of candidate progress and completer achievements to demonstrate operational effectiveness. The EPP continually monitors performance over time and tests innovations aligned to EPP goals and national and state standards. The EPP uses the data to improve EPP programs and processes. The measures of completer impact are being regulated, have been externally benchmarked and inform EPP decision-making about EPP transformation. Through our partnerships and Teacher Educator Advisory Committee (TEAC) feedback, stakeholders (alumni, school and district partners, clinical practitioners, and community members) serve as models of excellence and contribute to EPP-wide improvement and program evaluation.

In summary, the EPP's has developed and maintained a quality assurance system composed of multiple measures. The QAS is continuously evolving in response to data-driven decision-making focused on completer effectiveness and demonstrated through positive impact P-12 learning. The QAS allows for evidence-based EPP transformation in the form of continuous improvement efforts that foster a collaborative culture of change.

The EPP's quality assurance system aligns to relevant state and national standards. The national standards aligned to the EPP's quality assurance system are the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), Interstates Teacher Assessment Support Consortium (InTASC), and the specialized professional association (SPA) standards. Further, the QAS also is aligned to the South Carolina required ADEPT Standard proficiencies and the four actionable domains of: Planning, Instruction, Classroom Environment, and Professionalism. As an IHE in South Carolina, the EPP is required to address all CAEP and InTASC Standards SoE-wide and SPA standards in each specialty program area, as well as the state standards. Further, the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) requires annual assurance reports related to the SC Expanded ADEPT Standards and EPP program evaluation and improvement as follows:

Assurance #1: Expanded SC teaching Standards 4.0. The EPP will integrate the applicable Expanded ADEPT SC Teaching Standards 4.0 throughout each candidate's course work and clinical practice so that candidates understand and apply these standards.

Assurance #2: Clinical Practice. Prior to the beginning of clinical practicum, the EPP will provide candidates with a comprehensive orientation to practicum so that the candidates understand what they have to do to achieve success. At a minimum, the orientation will include both oral and written explanations of the assistance and evaluation processes, knowledge and skills competencies that relate to Expanded ADEPT expectations, the Standards of Conduct for South Carolina Educators, and the EPP's requirements for successful completion of clinical practice. Additionally, the EPP will design and implement clinical practicum experiences according to all applicable policy guidelines to ensure that candidates receive full opportunities to develop their professional knowledge and skills.

Assurance #3: Supervision of Candidates. The EPP will provide candidates with effective guidance and support during clinical practicum experiences by ensuring that each candidate is supervised by: (1) one or more EPP clinical faculty members who have preparation both in the supervision of initial teacher preparation and (2) one or more school-based cooperating teachers, who hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence and has been recommended as a cooperating teacher by a school or district administrator and/or by an EPP faculty member. Additionally, the EPP will provide all supervisors and cooperating teachers with training related to the institution's requirements and procedures for evaluating and supporting candidates.

Assurance #4: Feedback to Candidates. The EPP will ensure that, throughout all clinical experiences, supervisors will provide each candidate with accurate, appropriate, and ongoing formative feedback that enables the candidate to improve his or her teaching performance and effectiveness. Additionally, the EPP will assign ratings and grades that are aligned with the EPP's stated policies and that truly represent the quality of each teacher candidate's performance and effectiveness.

Assurance #5: Continuous Expanded ADEPT Program Improvement. The EPP will gather qualitative and quantitative data to determine the impact of the program on initial teacher preparation and effectiveness of the institution's candidates and graduates relative to the Expanded ADEPT Performance Standards and will use these data to guide future program planning.

In order to address the South Carolina five assurances as an integral part of the EPP's quality assurance system, the EPP has developed a program evaluation process. USC Aiken School of Education has developed a quality assurance system that tracks candidate formative and summative performance, impact on P-12 learners, and effectiveness from admission through graduation, using valid and reliable proprietary and EPP- created (in partnership with stakeholders, schools, and districts) assessments at key progressive decision-making points throughout the professional program. The candidates progress through benchmarks each consisting of data collection and decision-making that comprises the quality assurance system. Throughout our initial licensure teacher education program, teacher candidates engage in coursework and clinical experiences that allow the candidates to apply the knowledge, pedagogical skills, and dispositions as they progress through the various stages of the teacher

education program. South Carolina and InTASC standards are aligned and assessed in a developmental progression at multiple points during each teacher candidate's educational program. Data evidence are analyzed and disaggregated. Integral to the detailed data analyses provided within the extensive data evidence throughout this report is the discussion of trends or patterns that influenced our EPP's continuous improvement efforts. The Teacher Candidate Quality Benchmarks and Professional Program Progression provides an overview of candidate assessment throughout the teacher education program at multiple points with increasing levels of competency expected as the candidate progresses in the program. Partner schools and districts stakeholders and clinical practitioners are collaborative contributors to the EPP's quality assurance system The QAS also enables the EPP to perform systematic program evaluation.

EPP-wide consequential data includes pre-professional common course grades, student teaching evaluation data (SCTS Rubric 4.0, ADEPT, SLO and TWS), Praxis II content area and PLT results, USCA Lesson Plan scores. All proprietary and EPP-created assessments align with CAEP, InTASC, SPA and South Carolina Standards. Further, alumni teaching effectiveness is reviewed through the ADEPT SAFE-T data provided by South Carolina. Additional performance measures include dispositional surveys, practicum and internship surveys, and completer exit surveys. The EPP recognizes that the survey assessment instruments (dispositional surveys and TRIAD surveys), while validated did not provide three cycles of data and the initial data offered is from the 2018-19 academic year, so surveys were not included in the proprietary assessment table of this CAEP Self-Study Report. However, the surveys are key to the QAS and the EPP's continuous improvement process. Prior to the current academic year, employer satisfaction has been monitored informally (TEAC member feedback ). Moving forward, the EPP will implement employer surveys to all employers of 1-3 year EPP graduates. At the individual program level, candidates' effectiveness and impact on P-12 student learning is measured against specific program area SPA Standards. Therefore, at the EPP-wide and specialty program area levels, the assessment instrument data evidence offer a comparison of the candidate outcomes and P-12 student impact data within and across all EPP programs. From this comprehensive data review and interpretation, program improvement evolves.

As part of the self-study review process, the EPP has utilized a two-prong data collection and analysis system. First, CAEP Standards- aligned data is collected and analyzed through an EPP- developed internal data organization system. Further, the EPP has begun to utilize a centralized data reporting system (Task Stream) as an ongoing process that enables the EPP faculty, TEAC Council, benchmarking system campus, and all stakeholders to collaborate and contribute to the continuous improvement of our EPP. The EPP organizes the data collection, reporting, and analysis process to demonstrate how the EPP uses the data evidence to inform continuous improvement across programs of study in the USC Aiken School of Education. The EPP continues to work towards systematic analysis, interpretation, and documentation for EPP improvement. Towards this end, the EPP seeks stakeholder feedback at bi-annual Teacher Educator Advisory Council (consistently of our neighboring districts' stakeholders and SoE faculty) and Superintendent meetings. Additionally, the EPP holds bi-weekly faculty meetings where data is shared, discussed, and interpreted. Further, our entire SoE faculty have formed CAEP Standards teams focused on the development of our EPP in meeting the CAEP Standards.

Due to the small size of the EPP, collaborative decision-making, data collection and analysis, and continuous improvement efforts are ongoing and involve the entire EPP faculty. In the fall, winter, and spring of each academic year, the EPP sets aside retreat days specifically designed to review assessment data, discuss curricular program alignment to CAEP Standards, and reflect on the EPP's operational effectiveness. The tri-annual data review approach is foundational to the QAS. The EPP faculty have been placed in CAEP Standards Teams (meet bi-weekly throughout the academic year), each responsible for focusing on meeting the components of the standards. In addition, the bi-weekly faculty meeting includes data dips and technology tips.

Each retreat addresses:

  • Detailed data review and discussion of trends in data
  • Stakeholder feedback from the bi-annual TEAC meetings 
  • CAEP and Title II Annual Reporting Measures
  • Assessment review (results by program, dispositions process & progress)
  • Analysis of how EPP graduates performed related to the standards
  • Discussion of EPP survey results
  • Inter-rater reliability scoring of EPP-created Assessments (USCA Lesson Plan)
  • Committee and department updates (e.g., Professional Development School Committee and Office of Field Supervision)
  • CAEP Standards review by standards teams
  • Technology and diversity cross-cutting themes implementation

Some EPP Improvements made as a result of the retreats include:

EPP-wide Lesson Plan

A review and analysis of the student teaching evaluation data trends over 3 academic years and across all program areas indicated that USC Aiken teacher candidates need the most growth in the ADEPT domain of Instruction. Therefore, the EPP faculty decided to implement an EPP-created lesson plan assessment at the beginning and end of each program area practicum and/or course, to allow for measurement of growth and to foster the development of lesson planning and implementation in a progressive manner.

Progress Monitoring Improvement

An area of concern that emerged from the Student Learning Objective (SLO) impact on P-12 student learning data was the progress monitoring plan (formative assessment). The USC Aiken SoE faculty reflected on how to better implement formative assessment and progress monitoring practice the EPP practicum courses and internship.

Standards Alignment

Alignment of all key assessments and evidence to the CAEP and InTASC Standards.

Clinical Educator Quality

The EPP reviewed input from the Office of Field Supervision, PDS committee, and TEAC to evaluate clinical educator quality through feedback in the form of CT (field experiences) and TRIAD (CT, US, and intern) surveys. Data evidence is currently being inputted, stored, and disaggregated through Task Stream and the EPP data collection system providing documentation of the qualifications for clinical educators is maintained by the EPP office and discussed at the faculty retreats.

Dispositions Assessment Revision

Implementation of school and district partnership feedback (e.g., revision of dispositional survey and process, validation of EPP-created surveys, professional development and research partnership in critical needs area of Special Education). The new disposition assessment has been used to provide consistency EPP-wide for monitoring dispositions as well as establish specific program points for which disposition are evaluated by the candidates and EPP faculty. The EPP faculty collaborated on goal setting to strengthen these preparation areas to include more intensive academic advising training and support, required unit plans or e-portfolio of lesson(s) across programs, and culturally responsive instruction as learning modules within all professional program practicum curricula and courses.

Student Service Coordinator Position

Advising policy review and update due to the EPP completer exit survey feedback on EPP advising services. The USC Aiken School of Education has requested an Academic Services Coordinator (beginning in the 2019-20 academic year) who will act a professional advisor for education majors and provide support to them throughout their entire degree program. (See Advising Handbook draft and Exit Survey data). The EPP faculty will continue to review the SoE completer exit surveys and make modifications to our EPP as appropriate.

Diversity Initiatives

Diversity workshop series developed for candidates, diversity added to differentiation section of USC Aiken Lesson Plan, and diversity required course curricular review. Recruitment of diverse male candidates plans including partnership with Call Me Mister for first EPP cohort beginning in fall 2019. (See Diversity evidence and Recruitment Plan)

Standards Alignment

Alignment of the professional program curriculum to the ISTE and InTASC Standards (see InTASC Course Alignment Chart and Qualitative Data from the Standard 1 Survey).

Graduate Data Tracking

During previous academic years, USCA did not have any system in place to track our completers' employment after graduation. Beginning in 2018-19, the EPP developed a more efficient graduate employment tracking system for a minimum of 5 years post-graduation. (See Graduate, Certification, Employment chart).

Practicum Educator Quality

In Fall 2018, our SoE instituted a new cooperating teacher evaluation survey for all teacher candidates engaged in a practicum (pre-professional and professional program courses). The Office of Field Experience has reviewed the data, noted the responses in the Cooperating Teacher Pool database and shared the results with school partners and EPP faculty. The survey results will be tracked over time to inform future placement decisions.

PK-12 Impact

As a part of the QAS data retreat review, the EPP realized that impact measures required more focus than outcome measures. The EPP worked towards measuring completers' impact on P-12 learners as an effort toward EPP improvement. The EPP's initial implementation of a pilot case study evolved into a larger completer case study that is currently being conducted. From the pilot case study of a 2017-18 cohort of 1st- 3rd year teacher participants' impact on learning data (USCA graduates), the EPP found that the most positive impact data came from early childhood (ECE) majors (although we can only make general inferences with an n<10), the EPP inferred that our ECE program is doing an adequate job preparing ECE students to teach reading in K-2 classrooms. Since the number of participants in MLE (n=3) and high school (n=1) were limited, the EPP determined a larger, more detailed case study would be necessary to inform program improvement in an authentic way. As impact pre-/post-assessment of learning growth data could not be determined from the data evidence provided, the CAEP standards teams decided a more in-depth case study focused on embedded cases (individual participants) within each program of study and utilizing data evidence beyond one set of standardized testing (MAPS and Praxis) data measures to include student learning objective (SLO) pre-/post-assessment data over the course of a semester or academic year would allow for more breadth and depth of understanding completers' impact on P-12 student learning. The emerging instrumental case study will consist of employer satisfaction surveys of the participating cohort, triangulation of evidence from the SLO, employer surveys, and initial teaching evaluation scores regarding our participants to deepen our understanding of the teaching effectiveness, employer satisfaction and completer satisfaction of our 1st -3rd year teacher alumni cohort.

As further commitment to the QAS, the EPP has funded a full-time accreditation coordinator and data collection administrator. Data is collected, aggregated, disaggregated and analyzed through an internal EPP data organization and tracking system. In response to this self-study review process, the EPP began implementing the Task Stream data collection system in spring 2018. Currently, many EPP-created surveys and clinical supervisor (CT and US) applications are run through Task Stream. The goal of the EPP is to disaggregate and aggregate all assessment and survey data by program area and EPP-wide through Task Stream by the end of the 2020 calendar year.

Further, the EPP used specialty program area (SPA) data to implement EPP-wide change, based on trends in candidate performance within and across licensure areas. The EPP analyzed data to inform EPP-wide transformation in the following areas: candidate impact on P-12 student learning and content knowledge and pedagogy. In order to look for trends in candidate impact on student learning, the EPP examined student learning objective data (SLO) within the ECE and MLE programs as compared to the EPP-wide results.

Integral to measuring EPP quality is benchmarking, USC Aiken SoE benchmarked with a sister institution, USC-Upstate, to compare and contrast the Educator Preparation Programs' quality based on our Title II data and South Carolina SAFE-T evaluations of completers. Compared to USC Upstate, the Praxis PLT pass rate percentages for USC Aiken were 3% points higher than USC Upstate in 2015-16 with a considerably lower number of completers (48 vs. 119), making the 3- percentage point difference more significant. USCA's content and pedagogical preparation of candidates appears to be comparable to USC-Upstate's preparation in content and pedagogy. For the past 3 academic years, USC Aiken and USC Upstate initial licensure program graduates have earned a high internship pass rate (USC Aiken: 93.02. - 97.37%; USC Upstate: 95 - 97.5%). USC Upstate's pass rates were between 2-4.6% higher than USC Aiken's pass rate, but USC Upstate each year had almost double the graduates as USC Aiken, making the passing numbers higher for each academic year. Also, it was unclear from the benchmarking materials received from USC Upstate whether the data was for completers for each calendar year or academic year, making it difficult to compare completers' pass rates. That said, both institutions' pass percentages for their student teacher interns' evaluations were over 93% for all three years measured (USC Aiken - academic year and USC Upstate - calendar year). The benchmarking evidence supports that the USC Aiken educator preparation program is of comparable quality in the areas of completers' preparation, effectiveness, content, and pedagogical knowledge.

The EPP has four innovations it is currently testing to: 1) better measure completer P-12 impact (Pilot Case Study 2017-18 USC Aiken and upcoming embedded case study); 2) improve overall completer skills in the instructional domain (USC Aiken Lesson Plan); 3) increase the diversity and male enrollment (Recruitment and Retention Plan); 4) ensure the quality of clinical practitioners and experiences. Each of these innovations has been addressed in the suite of evidence provided in the Standards 1-4 narratives. Innovation progress is being monitored as delineated through the quality assurance system processes detailed in this narrative.

CAEP Cross-Cutting Themes

Diversity

EPP Candidates are expected to facilitate the learning of all students as follows:

  • Understand other cultures and their impact on student learning
  • Understand and use various teaching strategies to accommodate diverse populations of students
  • Is respectful, compassionate, and free of bias when working with students from diverse backgrounds (demonstrates cultural competency)

Multiple pieces of evidence presented in Standard Component 1.4 demonstrate that the candidates meet the EPP's diversity goals and the CAEP cross-cutting theme of diversity across the standards. EPP candidates engage in critical reflection and discourse about culture, pedagogy, and classroom practice in a series of three diversity workshops focused on anti-bias education practices and cultural competency for preservice teachers. Further, all students are required to take diversity courses in their primary program of study. In addition, all EPP student teacher interns participate in a required Diversity Conference and complete reflection papers as an internship requirement. The data from academic years 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 indicate a 100% passing score on all interns' diversity reflection papers. Also, from fall 2017 - fall 2018, nearly 80% of EPP completers expressed satisfaction with their EPP preparation to teach diverse learners overall and over 50% felt prepared to work with English language learners. Employers have also expressed that EPP completers are well-prepared to teach in diverse populations. Further, the EPP Lesson Plan was revised to ensure candidates can design lessons that meet the needs of all children.

The CAEP Standard 2.3 evidence demonstrates that EPP candidates are placed in diverse field and clinical experiences as preparation for becoming culturally competent educators who positively impact diverse P-12 students. Diversity is met by showing a range of differences in at least three of the five identified categories of gender, ethnicity/race, socioeconomic status, academic exceptionalities (SPED and GT), and language diversity (ELL). Candidates participate in a variety of field experiences throughout our program in both rural and suburban placements as part of their preparation. USC Aiken's education programs require field experiences that provide a variety of progressive experiences in multiple settings. Field and Clinical experiences are planned through our collaboration with our school and district partners. Aiken County Public School District (ACPSD) have had an increasing ELL population over the last 5 years and now exceed the state average with 8.9% of their total population considered ELLs. ACPSD ESOL Department personal communication). On numerous occasions over the last few years, the EPP has discussed incorporating more culturally relevant pedagogy for ELL's and children of poverty. It remains a growing need but with the current mandated requirements from the University, state and national levels, we are still trying to determine a path forward. The EPP offers ESOL endorsement classes at the graduate level every semester to school districts around the state. ACPSD has a high concentration of Title I schools in the county. Nineteen of the twenty Elementary schools (95%) are categorized as Title I schools. This is where the majority of EPP candidates are placement for field experiences.

The evidence provided in Standard 3.1 measures how the EPP tracked diversity data trends EPP-wide compared to South Carolina. The data indicate that the last three academic years have shown an upward trend in the enrollment number of diverse candidates admitted into the professional program. From fall 2016 through spring 2019, the ethnic and racial diversity of the EPP candidates averaged 18.62%. At the program level, from fall 2016-spring 2019 diversity percentage trends were near or above 20% for all programs except secondary (n<10). Of particular note is the EPP's recruitment of male and diverse candidates. From 2016-2018, there was an 160% increase in male candidates and 42.86% increase in African American candidates. To further improve male and diverse candidate enrollment, the EPP collaborated with Aiken County Public Schools, Aiken Technical College and the Call Me Mister scholarship program. The EPP also focuses on the critical needs areas in South Carolina including special education, science, math, literacy, middle level (all content areas), and ELA/English and literacy. The EPP is working on developing dual degree programs for science and teacher education majors. Further, the EPP's Aiken Scholars program recruits high school students identified as gifted in STEM areas. The students engage in advanced high school classwork and undergraduate level STEM courses at USCA. The EPP also has a well-established Teaching Fellows program that recruits the highest caliber of high school seniors who are interested in entering the field of education. Throughout the professional program, EPP candidates' dispositions are tracked and monitored for growth. An EPP-wide diversity focus has allowed more proactive and effective mentoring of candidates. Finally, the EPP participates in the Rural Teacher Initiative, providing significant financial assistance to candidates who agree to teach in a high need area of the state upon graduation.

The USC Aiken School of Education continues striving to meet its diversity goals for teacher candidates (understanding different cultures and teaching impact, differentiating instruction for P-12 diverse students, and cultural competency) as they intersect with the CAEP Standards' crosscutting theme of diversity. Through the ongoing continuous improvement efforts in diversity, the EPP acknowledges its strengths and challenges in this area. The EPP has presented evidence that demonstrates candidates' development as culturally competent educators prepared to teach diverse P-12 student populations.

Technology

The EPP offers candidates numerous opportunities to integrate and acquire the technological knowledge, skills and dispositions defined by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) as follows:

  • Facilitates and inspires student learning and creativity
  • Designs and develops digital-age learning experiences and assessments
  • Models digital-age work and learning
  • Promotes and models digital citizenship and responsibility
  • Engages in professional growth and leadership

The evidence presented in Standard 1.5 demonstrates the EPP's commitment to developing candidates who can integrate technology into their P-12 teaching that fosters student learning. The EPP completer exit surveys support completer use of technology in PK-12 classrooms and satisfaction in regards to preparation related to technology. Between the Fall 2017 - Fall 2018, nearly 90% of completers expressed satisfaction with their educational technology preparation. Further, the EPP endeavors to prepare candidates to integrate technology into their instruction. The data analyzed in the 1.5 evidence support that all candidates successfully complete a technology course or e-portfolio assignments (Early Childhood Education program) show mastery of ISTE competencies that align with the EPP's technology goals listed at the top of this narrative. Additionally, the SLO assessment data and analyses demonstrates that EPP candidates positively impact P-12 student achievement through technology-based, data-driven instructional decision-making. Further, the EPP-created USCA Lesson Plan assessment specifically addresses how candidates integrate technology into instruction. A 2018-19 survey of EPP coursework indicated that the teacher educator program curriculum is aligned to the ISTE standards and substandards and the majority of EPP teacher education courses integrate current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning. Further, the Model Code of Ethics for Educators (MCEE) is foundation to the EPP. The code establishes principles for ethical best practice including the ethical use of technology. TEAC partners assisted in the revision of the dispositional surveys, requesting that the social media awareness and the ethical use of technology be incorporated into the EPP candidate preparation and monitoring.

Technology is an integral part of Standard 2. Every practicum course and internship clinical practice require candidates to design lesson plans that incorporate technology to foster teaching and learning for P-12 students. Technology integration is listed as an instructional strategy on the USC Aiken Lesson Plan and the SCTS Rubric 4.0 assessments that candidates use throughout practicum and internship experiences. Further, during internship the candidates implement data. Driven, technology-based a pre- post- assessment plan as the Student Learning Objective (SLO) proprietary assessment. Additionally, in fall 2018, the EPP began utilizing Task Stream and an internal EPP data tracking system to gather and store data for teacher candidates. The EPP is currently streamlining its data collection and analysis process. The EPP continues to work towards systematic analysis, interpretation, and documentation to inform EPP continuous improvement across the programs of study. Towards this end, stakeholder feedback is gathered at bi-annual Teacher Educator Advisory Council (consistently of our neighboring districts' stakeholders and SOE faculty) meetings. The EPP also conducts bi-weekly faculty meetings where technology tips and data are shared, discussed, and interpreted. These technology-centered discourse and partnerships allow for high quality field and clinical experiences.

Evidence provided in Standard 3 combined with the EPP's Recruitment Plan and a developmental professional program sequence of coursework, clinical experiences, and assessments allows for the continuous monitoring, analysis, and data for decision-making regarding quality teacher candidate preparation from recruitment through program completion. The EPP has designed a system to monitor candidate development through the professional program, as the EPP uses data-driven decision-making to promote EPP-wide transformation. Candidates' demonstration of knowledge, skills and dispositions is assessed at sequential benchmark points throughout the teacher education program. By graduation, EPP candidates are well-prepared as ethical professional educators who integrate technology into diverse PK-12 student learning experiences.

Through the cross-cutting technology evidence offered across the CAEP Standards, the EPP presents a strong case that teacher candidates have the 21st Century technology integration skills to address the diverse needs and enhance the learning of P-12 students.

Aiken SoE's quality assurance system (QAS) supports a culture of program evaluation and continuous improvement through an evidence-based monitoring system. The QAS consists of data collection and analyses of valid and reliable multiple measures of EPP completer effectiveness and progress and EPP-wide operational effectiveness. The EPP utilizes representative, relevant, actionable, and cumulative data. The EPP uses the data collected and analyzed improve the EPP overall and candidate outcomes. The QAS allows for the EPP to set and adjust goals as the EPP evolves and transforms to meet national and state standards.

The substantial evidence presented in CAEP Standards 1-5 demonstrates the EPP's ability to disseminate data from multiple valid, cumulative, and actionable measures of candidate progress and completer achievements to demonstrate operational effectiveness. The EPP continually monitors performance over time and tests innovations aligned to EPP goals and national and state standards. The EPP uses the data to improve EPP programs and processes. The measures of completer impact are being regulated, have been externally benchmarked and inform EPP decision-making about EPP transformation. Through our partnerships and Teacher Educator Advisory Committee (TEAC) feedback, stakeholders (alumni, school and district partners, clinical practitioners, and community members) serve as models of excellence and contribute to EPP-wide improvement and program evaluation.

In summary, the EPP's has developed and maintained a quality assurance system composed of multiple measures. The QAS is continuously evolving in response to data-driven decision-making focused on completer effectiveness and demonstrated through positive impact P-12 learning. The QAS allows for evidence-based EPP transformation in the form of continuous improvement efforts that foster a collaborative culture of change.