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3.6 Capacity for quality reflected in staffing, resources, operational processes, and institutional commitment

Northwest's educator preparation programs maintains capacity for quality and excellence reflected in staffingresources, and operational processes. The institution maintains strong and consistent commitment to provide human, fiscal, and process-oriented resources sufficient to ensure excellent program practices consistent with the mission and jurisdictional and state mandates to provide quality teachers and leaders for the state, and region.

Quality Faculty and Staffing Support

The Northwest School of Education is blessed to have highly-effective, committed, well-educated, caring, compassionate, and passionate faculty and staff. A review of the Northwest faculty curriculum vitas (available only when logged in through Canvas, as the program considers this information proprietary) will support the case that faculty are credentialed and experienced in the areas in which they have primary teaching responsibility. Clinical faculty receive mandatory annual training from the Office of Clinical and Field Experiences before working with student teachers. The university accreditation, provided by the Higher Learning Commission, holds that faculty teaching undergraduate coursework must possess at least one degree above the level of collegiate coursework (Master's or Specialist). For Master's-level teaching, our Dean and Provost ensure that teaching faculty (also true for adjuncts) hold a doctorate in the content area or closely-related field and 18 graduate hours in the content area in order to teach. These processes ensure academic credentialing and support faculty quality. Faculty are annually evaluated by the Dean of the School of Education (or Dean of Undergraduate Studies/Associate Provost for those in Arts and Sciences degree areas). Faculty research, teaching, and service comprise the university-wide expectations for professional advancement and continuation of teaching contracts. Staffing and support for students are robust, well-supported, and consistent. The description of the staffing and personnel provides descriptions of human resources in support of program quality.

Although staffing and positions are adequate, program growth since 2016 has led to roughly double the student credit hours (from 13,000 a year to more than 26,000) generated by the faculty of the School of Education. This has not yet been addressed with new support for faculty and programs reflective of the gain in students and responsibilities for advising and leadership, leading to higher teaching loads for education faculty than their counterparts in other programs across departments on campus. Due to the unexpectedly large growth at the graduate and undergraduate level, most faculty have overloads in their teaching assignments. The leadership of the School of Education is aware of persistent strain on faculty and staff. We have requested additional faculty lines from the Provost and President, and have received verbal assurances that additional help is coming in the 2020-2021 academic year.

Despite the additional sections of classes, faculty are routinely engaged in top-quality scholarship and have even redesigned the curriculum from the ground up, in collaboration with faculty from the arts and sciences and professional schools offering a uniquely integrated, clinically-based, and project-based approach to educator preparation.

Resources and Institutional Commitment

The School of Education receives strong fiscal support for operations, program quality, faculty travel, field and clinical experiences, and processes to bring in top-tier personnel as tenure-track and/or instructor-level faculty. At Northwest, all newly-hired faculty receive salaries that pay 92% of the national average, using a complex, but fair and annually-vetted process designed by the Associate Provost for Special Programs and Dean of the Graduate School to assign a fair-market value to discipline and content-area specialty-area experts who join the faculty. Please see the 20162018, and 2019 faculty salary matrices for more information and further detailed processes. Overall, the School of Education places significant fiscal support into keeping a coterie of highly-qualified and effective faculty and staff to serve our students and provide them excellent feedback, content knowledge, processes, and rich, diverse clinical practice in diverse school settings. Northwest's School of Education provides more than $170,000 of resources, annually, dedicated to robust clinical and field experiences, including a series of diversity-rich field trips to metropolitan areas, including Kansas City-area schools, in Independence, Missouri.

For candidates from predominantly rural areas, access to rich clinical practice with students from diverse language backgrounds, or concentrated poverty, or from diverse racial, ethnic, and ability-level differences provides the richest and most complete educator preparation. For our candidates from urban and suburban settings, program leaders commit to ensuring that they will have the chance to learn and work with students from small, rural schools. This opens eyes and hearts, and requires significant institutional commitment. The institution also supports international student teaching through the office of Study Away at Northwest, and candidates routinely engage in culminating clinical experiences by student teaching in areas as diverse as Costa RicaArgentinaNew Zealand, Australia, Spain, Ireland, and Chile and/or Finland.

For more information, please see sections 4.1, 4.2, and 4.5., which make the case that the School of Education advances workforce diversity and clinical practice for candidates. When factoring in the dedicated resources committed to keep two laboratory schools (Horace Mann and the Leet Center) fully staffed and operating at a consistently high level, our teacher candidates receive abundant resources to further their growth as professionals with more than 550 hours of rich clinical practice.

The Provost and President have been outspoken advocates for quality processes, quality assurance, and a strong educator preparation program, and have been invaluable in the transformation and continuous improvement processes leading to widespread acknowledgement as a nationally-recognizable top-tier regional, public, teacher and leader education program. The American Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities acknowledged these resource-rich educator preparation program with receipt of the 2018 Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence and Innovation in Teacher Education, which simply would not have been possible without the strongest support at all levels of administration. The application for the McAuliffe Award reveals the depth of university-wide support for teacher education at Northwest Missouri State University.

Additional support and resources include university-supplied matching-grant funds to support two Outdoor Classrooms for the Leet Center Preschool and Horace Mann laboratory school, as part of federal Land Water Conservation Funds and Missouri Department of Natural Resources projects to create green learning spaces using natural materials. In essence, the university created a part-time city park which doubles as a truly innovative teaching laboratory to incorporate best practices in education through art, science, physical education, music, and botany in a natural arboretum. This affords our teacher candidates the ability to practice designing and implementing lessons in outdoor classrooms, with movement and nature embedded.

The University, founded as a normal school and teacher's college, has maintained a consistent identity for 115 years- we prepare educators for the nation's schools. The university takes pride in providing effective teachers and leaders for the state and region. With award-winning faculty, strong processes, procedures, and resources, and consistent support from all levels of administration, the Professional Education Unit and School of Education make the case that institutional commitment remains high, and dedication to preparing successful and effective teachers and leaders remains a core value concomitant to the mission of the University.

One final example of institution-wide commitment is revealed in an accreditation review from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which evaluated our additional site location where Northwest School of Education and the Independence, Missouri school district developed an accelerated Master's degree for new teachers who have recently joined the district. Taught jointly by Northwest and qualified adjuncts from Independence, the HLC reviewers indicated strong university support for the partnership. This is a microcosm of the quality support offered for programs, partnerships, and processes. We try to bring our best to all that we do when serving candidates and district partners. If we build a partnership, we are highly dedicated to serving our partners.

Operational Processes- Evidence and Examples of Quality Processes

The School of Education invests in numerous operational processes to support quality and student success and retention. In this section, we present seven examples of operationalized processes from key, unit-wide areas:

1) Admittance to the School of Education through application to Teacher Education Student Services Coordinator. For more information, see 3.4, Admission to the Professional Education Program

2) Support for retention and academic learning through Teacher Education Admissions Committee and Supplemental Instruction, in addition to the advising system created by Freshman Advisor Mrs. Baker for the School of Education majors. See 3.4, Monitoring Processes: Teacher Education Admissions Committee (TEAC)

3) Admission to Student Teaching. Please see 3.4, Monitoring Processes: Student Teaching Application

4) Support for Teacher Licensure and State Certification from the Education Compliance Specialist and Certification Officer. Please see 3.4, Monitoring Processes: State Teacher Certification Support.

5) Ongoing quality assurance for clinical experiences, diversity field trips, and process improvement of curriculum (through the COTE, or Council on Teacher Education), assessment and quality assurance system (Quality Assurance System), and day-to-day operations (School of Education Leadership Team). Please see 3.4 Monitoring Processes, Council on Teacher Education

6) A position request process through Human Resources- all academic departments and Schools must go through the same procedure to vet each position request. We do not replace lines or positions without assurances that the role is aimed to support student learning now and in the future.

7) Support from the Northwest Foundation, the charitable arm providing financial support to departments and Schools from philanthropy and charitable support. Please see the Northwest Foundation Project Balances document, an artifact listing all the types and amounts of funds which available to the leadership of the School of Education. This evidence lends credence to the case that adequate resources are available for the successful implementation of programs and processes in support of effective educator preparation at Northwest.

In 2019, Northwest Missouri State University was honored by the American Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities for our university-wide approach to student success, advisement, and retention. This affirms the work we have put in to our School of Education monitoring and quality assurance processes and procedures. It shines a positive light on the work conducted by Mrs. Jill Baker, lead freshman advisor for the School of Education, who leads an innovative series of systems. These include deep, data-informed advising to support candidates from at-risk, marginalized backgrounds who express a desire to become a teacher but may not have adequate academic background of more well-resourced, non-first generation students.

Mrs. Baker's research revealed a process improvement opportunity, which was unanimously passed by the Council of Teacher Education, enabling a data-driven, multiple measures approach to admissions that supports diversification of the educator workforce while supporting quality assurance. Because we routinely examine systems, procedures, and data, we found evidence of a better, more equitable approach to educator preparation standards. The resulting ACT-MoGEA admissions requirement change advantages candidates of color and other marginalized students, by letting their talent, not just their test scores, speak for program admissions. By using knowledge, skills, and dispositions, with early clinical practice, candidates are more prepared to demonstrate effectiveness, and earn admissions to teacher preparation. Both the advisement system and data analysis process have been chronicled as accepted, peer-reviewed presentations at national accreditation conferences (AAQEP, 2018#160;and CAEP, 2015).

Conclusion

Northwest maintains capacity for quality by hiring excellent, effective, and well-credentialed faculty with the right experience to connect with candidates and provide learning opportunities. The School of Education demonstrates institutional commitment by providing considerable programmatic resources, including robust field and clinical experiences with diverse school partners in diverse clinical settings. Strong operational processes ensure quality and support decision quality. In the next section, we share evidence of how Northwest engages in P-20 system improvement.