Standard 3.1: Field Experience and Clinical Practice

Unit programs have long-standing, professional relationships with area P-12 school districts and school sites where candidates are placed for their field experiences. Building relationships in partnerships and ongoing collaboration that involves soliciting community input, sharing responsibilities and resources, promoting professionalism, and establishing accountable measures has facilitated opportunities for our candidates to develop and demonstrate the proficiencies and dispositions required of a professional in their field. Fresno State was one of two institutions recognized in the PEDS 2013 report for successful school partnerships.

Identifying outstanding placements is a high priority. The review and selection process for field placements differs across programs and districts and is a continuous, collaborative process. The director of field experiences, coordinators, faculty advisors, university supervisors, and P-12 administrators collaborate on a regular basis to identify and place candidates at sites with high quality school-based clinical faculty. The edresults.org data is used to identify schools that are closing the achievement gap and “Star and Scholar” schools are given priority in placing candidates. Data including comments from the candidate and supervisor evaluations are also considered. Visits are often made to school sites to collaborate with school/district personnel on identifying placements. Many P-12 districts now have their own application procedures where school-based clinical faculty must be approved at the school site and district level before being considered.

Frequent school site visits and orientation, assessment/goal setting, advisory board, and partnership meetings provide opportunities for collaboration and informal feedback between the university and school partners. Partner schools have been implemented since 2006 with 5 districts across MS, SS and ES. The newest partnership, a Teacher Residency Program with Fresno Unified, has integrated resources and expertise to design classes, establish clinical fieldwork teams, and additional support and assessment. The university continually receives feedback from the P-12 based faculty on a formal basis through the KSOEHD exit survey and KLASSI assessment system.

Each unit program has well-designed field components that provide candidates with the variety of experiences/settings they need for their initial or continuing preparation as an education professional. The sequence of the fieldwork provides for an incremental and developmental series of activities that prepares candidates for full-day professional responsibilities. During their placements, candidates, under the supervision of experienced professionals, have opportunities to link coursework with practice by observing, working with students from diverse backgrounds and exceptionalities, implementing best practice assignments, collaborating with peers, reflecting on their practice, and assuming responsibilities necessary for their field.

All candidates must meet specific entry and exit criteria outlined by individual programs before being admitted to field experiences and clinical practice. Admissions technicians and credential analysts verify all requirements have been met. For example, a prerequisite for teacher education, EHD 50 requires observations in schools, tutoring students, interacting with families of students, and assisting teachers or other school professionals.

In their field experiences candidates become an integral part of the educational team at the school sites participating in Co-Teaching, learning communities, as well as school activities and events. Candidates are required to participate and document CSTP 6 and TPE 12; these standards require them to participate and reflect on school/community events, engage local communities in support of the instructional program, and interact with families of students.

Unit programs integrate the resources and expertise of unit and school-based clinical faculty and use multiple measures and assessments to evaluate candidate skills, knowledge, and professional dispositions in relation to professional, state, and institutional standards. Each field placement and internship experience requires observation and feedback from university clinical faculty as well as P-12 school based-faculty, who share the responsibility for the evaluation of candidate learning and performance. Handbooks for each program contain descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of university and school based-clinical faculty.

In the initial teacher preparation programs, the university supervisor and the school-based clinical faculty, who are accomplished professionals, work together to determine whether their candidate is developing and demonstrating the knowledge, skills, and dispositions expected for that placement. They maintain regular contact, through school orientations, classroom visits/observations, and email or phone contact, to discuss the candidate’s progress and any concerns or issues that might have arisen. They provide valuable insights and work together to provide an evaluation of progress for the candidate midway and at the end of the semester. Every phase of the MS/SS programs have performance assessments integrated in their courses/field placements (FAST -TPA). Candidates use technology (TaskStream) in creating plans, writing reflections, and uploading required information necessary to demonstrate master of performance assessments. Candidates analyze data in their course work and in fieldwork to reflect on the effectiveness of their practice and make changes.  Unit programs are committed to the appropriate use of technology in ways that enhance teaching and learning. The use of information technology to enhance learning is required and documented in fieldwork competencies.

In the advanced programs, candidates are supervised by program faculty and by an appropriately credentialed school-based individual. In the Ed Admin program, the university supervisor and district site administrator work closely with the candidate to design various and relevant experiences that will provide the most authentic administrative situations requiring utilization of data, technology, and research, and application of knowledge.

The unit is committed to the development of educators who have both expertise and the ability to work with students from diverse backgrounds and with exceptionalities to ensure that all students learn. Field experiences are designed in a logical/developmental sequence and provide settings for candidates to apply the knowledge, skills, and dispositions gained from coursework. The successful completion of one field experience is prerequisite for the next. Each program uses specified criteria (state and national standards) to determine if a candidate has the achieved the level of proficiency required to continue.

A critical component of all field experiences is the supervision. University clinical faculty provide written observations and encourage written and oral feedback from school-based faculty. Each program has its own forms to document observations, and all provide opportunities for comments and feedback. University clinical faculty conference with candidates following observations and candidates are expected to reflect on their practice. Midway through each semester the university and school-based faculty meet with the candidate to discuss his/her progress and collaboratively set goals for the remainder of the semester.

Candidates and clinical faculty continually examine results related to P-12 learning. Lesson plans are expected to align with Common Core standards. These results are discussed collaboratively with professional learning communities and clinical faculty. Candidates are also required to submit individual reflections. All teacher candidates are required to complete with a passing score a Site Visitation Project and a Teaching Sample Project that requires analysis of student learning.

Field experiences are designed and placements selected so that candidates have opportunities to develop and demonstrate their ability to provide appropriate learning environments for students with diverse characteristics and prior experiences, including the ability to use technology. Initial teacher preparation programs require that at least one of the field placements be in a school with a diverse setting. The Ed Admin program requires candidates to be placed in a school site where at least 20% of the population is comprised of heterogeneous student populations. The Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work credentials require a minimum number of hours with students of backgrounds different from the candidate.

MS/SS candidates enroll in a course that concentrates on differentiating instruction for students with special needs. Assignments require candidates to develop case studies, participate in IEP meetings, and write research reports that focus on UDL and more effectively teaching students with special needs in their field placements. During final student teaching, MS candidates must complete 15 hours of verified observation of exceptional students with a reflection, an exceptional student case study, SPED teacher/parent interview, and a classroom management plan.

Throughout their clinical experiences, initial/advanced program candidates develop and practice proficiencies related to all students learning. They are required to plan and teach lessons that are tied to academic content standards/common core and include adaptations for English Language Learners and students with special needs in written plans. Key performance assessments, required competencies, and lesson observations document these proficiencies.

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