A-Z Index

4.1-4.2 Reducing Disparities in Educational Outcomes and 4.5 Missouri Obligations and Mandates

4.1 Engages with local partners and stakeholders to support high-needs schools and participates in efforts to reduce disparities in educational outcomes

4.2 Seeks to meet state and local educator workforce needs and to diversify participation in the educator workforce through candidate recruitment and support

4.5 Meets obligations and mandates established by the state, states, or jurisdiction within which it operates

Northwest’s educator preparation programs engage in system improvementdiversification of the educator workforce, and strengthening P-20 education systems by responding to local needs and engaging local (and not-so-local) partner districts with high-needs schools to reduce disparities in educational outcomes. The Northwest education programs meet established mandates from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Program Approval, its subsidiary the Office of Educator Quality, and State certification and licensure, as well as local district partners, and best practices recommended by national accreditation agencies, including NCATE (operated by CAEP).

Partnerships between Northwest and Independence and broad connection to AAQEP standards and aspects

Northwest's School of Education and the Independence, Missouri School District have a series of documented and effective, mutually co-beneficial, clinical partnerships. Clinical partnerships with the Independence School District occur throughout candidates’ developmental continuum, and are targeted to provide access to diverse learners’ needs. Candidates attend a clinical experience in Fairmount Elementary in Independence, a highly diverse, well-functioning, and successful school with strong leadership and teaching. Independence also sends 5th graders to the Northwest main campus to enjoy a college visit. Many P-12 students indicate this provides the first glimpse that attending college is a possibility. In addition to undergraduate partnerships, a graduate program with embedded clinical practice exists- The Fellows Program in Independence. In sum, these Independence-related partnerships provide support for the case that Northwest’s robust clinical partnerships and program development support AAQEP standards related to:

  • rich, diverse, high-quality clinical practices (3.2),
  • intentional diversification of the educator workforce (4.2),
  • evidence of direct and downstream measures of program impact on candidates' learning and P-20 student learning (1.0),
  • supporting local school and cultural communities (2.1),
  • culturally-relevant pedagogy (2.2) with diverse learners, in diverse contexts,
  • reflective of maintaining our institutional commitment to operational processes, resources, and staffing to ensure program quality and effectiveness (3.6).

Although a microcosm of the depth and breadth of the quality clinical experiences and robust partnerships, these are illustrative of just one of several districts, spanning rural, urban, and suburban locations, in which the Northwest School of Education has built strong partnerships. For more information, please review table 4, the Northwest Teacher Candidate Field Experiences Crosswalk, a Googledoc with a comprehensive look at the evidence of quality clinical practices based on partnerships.

Description of the Independence, Missouri School District

Northwest candidates participate in numerous clinical experiences with the Independence School District (ISD), observing and teaching diverse learners early and middle practicum experiences, learning from excellent, successful ISD teachers in an urban setting. Independence is a highly-diverse district (the 6th-largest in Missouri) with significantly more P-12 students eligible for free or reduced-cost meals than the state average, and the district possesses other components of socioeconomic, racial, and/or ability-level diversity not typically present in the catchment area near to Maryville. Independence, adjacent to metro Kansas City, is more than 100 miles from Maryville, the site of our main campus, and we allocate significant program resources to support our partnerships and clinical practice. These include university-paid transportation for Northwest candidates to and from Independence, and several other school districts, to defray the cost of candidates’ participation in clinical practice.

This partnership is beneficial for both organizations. The partnership emphasizes exposure to meeting the needs of students from diverse backgrounds. For the district, it allows district access to candidates who may be a good fit for a culminating student teaching experience, employment in the district, or participation in the Fellows Program.

(4.1, 4.2) Description of the Innovative Northwest-Independence Fellows Program

The Fellows Program began in 2017, as Northwest responded to a request for a university to develop a program proposal for an accelerated graduate degree to complement district-provided induction of new teachers and mentorship with professional development for 1st-year, in-district teachers. Our site at Northwest-Kansas City supports clinical partnerships, program leadership, enrollment and retention support for students in the Fellows Program.

The Fellows Program leads to a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. The Fellows Program meets district needs to recruit and retain strong teachers for high-needs schools (4.1). It is offered on-site in Independence, Missouri. The Program is more than a degree; it offers new teachers district-provided mentors, a free apartment, healthcare benefits, an accelerated degree-timeline, and research support from Northwest faculty to solve district-identified learning challenges which support real-world learners’ needs. Please click on this Fellows Program Brochure to review program characteristics. By researching the impact of practices upon student learning, the Fellows Program students generate great learning, improve the profession, and engage in direct measures of positive impact on the students. Capstone projects completed by Fellows Program Graduate students are school and district-directed, supporting the case that the partnership is mutually-beneficial to both the district and the Northwest educator preparation program. Moreover, the types of research these new teachers conduct is rigorous, high-quality, and timely. Topics from the most recent set of projects include: managing classroom behaviorswhole-brain learning on student engagementparent engagement on student achievement, and the impact of vocabulary instruction on reading comprehension. These selected projects reveal that the program impacts and connects to PK-12 student learning, district-initiatives, and high-quality program practices built on robust clinical partnerships such as the Independence Fellows Program.

Students in the Fellows Program are innovative and connected to continuous improvement. Two students, Dimitric Edwards and Kaitlyn McLain created a Podcast series in the course Leading in the Digital Age, in which they share their experiences and perceptions as first-year teachers and Master’s-seeking students. One episode focuses on professional development, and another covers digital ethics and reputation. Each episode discusses the positives of the profession, including “teacher wins” for the week. Our candidates are transforming and supporting innovation to improve the P-12 system. Northwest supports partnerships which really make an impact.

The Fellows Program is one direct example of how the Northwest School of Education directly impacts candidates’ learning. Partnerships are impactful, for our candidates, our partners, and the program. To close the loop between theory, practice, and revised theory, our faculty have published peer-reviewed research demonstrating the positive impact of clinical partnerships on candidates’ learning. Candidate interactions with diverse learners through partnerships with the Independence School District have resulted in a peer-reviewed publication in Educational Renaissance in 2018 and numerous national-level scholarly presentations at AACTE, TECSCU, TECSCU again in 2019, and state-level presentations at the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Results revealed in the research about the impact of rich, diverse clinical experience and partnerships with Independence included:

1) Changed mindsets supportive of candidates’ ability to reach diverse learners

2) Increased capacity to engage in culturally-relevant practice, and

3) Candidates’ increased ability to meet students’ diverse learning needs.

In addition to making the case for program quality sufficient to support evidence for 4.1, 4.2, and 4.5, the emphasis on culturally-relevant practice supports AAQEP standard 1.3 (culturally-responsive practice) and 2.2 (engaging in culturally-responsive practices in diverse community contexts), especially in light of the economic and cultural diversity of the Independence School district. As a rurally-located institution, we know it is vital to prioritize diversity, and diverse partnerships and clinical experiences for our candidates. The university spends considerable human and fiscal capital to ensure that all candidates are exposed to diverse experiences through rich, multi-faceted clinical practices.

Please see the attached documents, including the Memorandum of Understanding emphasizing the importance of attempting to diversify the educator workforce through the partnerships.

The Fellows Program, which is comprised 30 graduate credit hours in a one-year accelerated degree, was developed through a memorandum of understanding with agility and responsiveness to meet specified district partner needs to provide induction into the profession to continue newly-hired teachers’ professional development. The program is based on mentoring, timely and district-need-focused coursework, and supports induction into the profession with quality feedback and coaching. The innovative program design offers faculty from the Northwest School of Education as well as adjuncts from the school district.

(4.2) Innovation meets diversification: Northwest-Independence Fellows Program and Northwest Education Requirements Policy Analysis

Northwest and the Independence School District developed the Fellows Program to diversify the educator workforce. This aligns with AAQEP standard 4.2, as administrators specifically developed a suite of shared responsibilities in support of diversity. In the MOU, this paragraph reveals a strong institutional commitment to the diversification of the educator workforce through continuous quality improvement:

Both Northwest and ISD commit to utilizing best practices to recruit, admit, and support Fellows representing marginalized, under-represented minority populations to fully support each institutions strategic initiatives to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusive practices. (MOU, p. 4)

To support quality and consistency, Northwest developed and implemented a new position, NW-ISD Program Leader, to provide student support for registration, retention as well as adjunct faculty hiring and training on university grading and assessment systems. The Program Leader provides consistent administrative support while serving as a liaison between Independence and Northwest administration. The Higher Learning Commission, which provides regional university-wide accreditation, reviewed and provided an evaluation of the Additional Site Location at Northwest-Kansas City. HLC feedback, which was remarkably positive and unusually complimentary of the resources and support offered to Fellows Program students by Northwest, provides support for the case that Northwest possesses capacity for staffing, operational processes, and manifested institutional commitment (AAQEP 3.6). The Dean of the Northwest School of Education regularly visits with the Independence School District Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources to discuss and work through potential issues related to student success and ongoing program evaluation for continuous improvement.

Northwest has been heavily involved in using teacher education assessment data to track candidate progress and support, through ongoing monitoring, access to the educator profession. Faculty members have presented more than 20 times at state and national conferences about quality assurance, data, and evidence of the impact of state teacher testing regulations as a limiting factor for candidate diversity. In 2019, Northwest Assessment Director Mike McBride, building on his award-winning dissertation research, conducted a comprehensive policy analysis of Northwest’s educator preparation requirements and prepared a revised policy plan to diversify the educator workforce without sacrificing quality or lowering program requirements. This innovative work, the ACT-MoGEA policy, enables Northwest to simultaneously promote social justice and candidate quality by looking holistically at multiple measures and attributes of candidates, not just a standardized testing score. This aligns with AAQEP standards 4.2, promoting diversification of the educator preparation workforce, and 3.4, admission and monitoring aligned to candidate success and state standards. This revised policy, which for the first time enables the program to ensure that admittance policies are equitable regardless of gender or race of candidate, might be a best practice worth sharing with other educator preparation programs.

(4.5) Program commitment to state mandates and jurisdictional considerations.

Northwest Missouri State University and the School of Education have a century-long commitment to providing well-prepared teachers and leaders for the region, for Missouri, and for the bordering states of Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, each of which is less than 40 miles from our main campus in Maryville.

The State of Missouri, through the auspices of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Office of Educator Quality, have approved Northwest programs to prepare educators. Upon completion of the competencies and courses identified in each matrix, candidates will be credentialed and certified to practice in Missouri. Our certification officer, Ms. Kim Hullinger, has rich experience and expertise. She personally checks each candidate's application and paperwork and completes the application for certification on the student's behalf, forwarding to DESE as a liaison. Program approval is processed for Missouri higher education public institutions through the Missouri Department Higher Education and Workforce Development. All Northwest education programs must be approved by MDHEWD. Northwest’s Regional Accreditor is the Higher Learning Commission. Northwest is accredited by HLC through 2028-2029. Here is a link to the letter from HLC to Northwest signifying continuation of regional accreditation.

Links to those approvals, in the form of PDF's of matrices specifying approved competencies, courses, and programs, can be found for these five sets of matrices, each of which, in the aggregate, reflect Northwest's commitment to meeting jurisdictional and DESE state program approval mandates:

An Assistant Director of the School of Education meets weekly with the certification officer to ensure quality and support for all teacher candidates. Data from the quality assurance system is regularly checked at admittance to the School of Education, entrance to the student teaching semester, and exit from the program with completion of licensure requirements including state testing, nationally-normed standardized examination for content knowledge and satisfactory GPA. DESE requires clearance of a state-mandated background check.

Additionally, in its Equity Plan, DESE and the state of Missouri has asked all Missouri public school leaders to solve a teacher shortage by creating programs to support entry into the teaching profession. DESE, which calls these programs Grow-your-Own Programs, also prioritizes the diversity of the educator workforce and has asked University educator preparation programs to facilitate, as possible, the development and implementation of Grow-your-Own Programs. Northwest supported advertising and teacher recruiting with events to create awareness about the Grow-Your-Own program. Starting in 2016, the Northwest Missouri State University School of Education developed a partnership through its Northwest-Kansas City location to work with North Kansas City School District. For the last three years, Northwest has offered a unique Grow-your-own Program where talented high-school students receive dual college credit and begin taking education courses at Northwest while still in high school, then begin a completion program with a partnership with Metropolitan Community College and Northwest. Northwest works with families to promote awareness and recruit future teachers. As part of the Grow-your-own-Program, the North Kansas City Missouri school district hires students admitted to the Grow-Your-Own programs as a student employee in the district early childhood center. The program features:

  • Identical, coherent curriculum for dual-credit high school students
  • University faculty and district teachers collaboratively sharing experiences that prepare educators
  • Reduced/free tuition
  • Part-time employment in the early childhood center in the school district (sufficient to negate the need for student loans/tuition debt)
  • Offer of employment in the district once graduated and certified
  • Reflective of partnerships with MCC-Maple Woods, Northwest, and North Kansas City School District

(4.5) Northwest-Kansas City Completion Program to support educator diversity and workforce needs

Not all prospective teachers can leave urban metropolitan areas to study for four years in a residential college setting such as Maryville, Missouri. In recognizing the economic and sociocultural factors with accessing high-quality educator preparation, Northwest leadership has supported an innovative completion program model for residents of metropolitan Kansas City, Missouri. Staffed by an on-site School of Education associate professor and with the support of qualified and connected adjunct instructors, the Elementary Education completion program serves students who otherwise could not afford the time and money to finish at our main campus. This provides support for the case that Northwest’s educator preparation programs seek to address workforce needs of diverse schools while supporting access to quality preparation with commitment of university resources. Starting in 2016, Northwest School of Education worked with the Missouri Department of Higher Education, community college and state leaders to develop a completion program enabling Kansas-City-located individuals to earn state licensure and certification as elementary educators through the Northwest Kansas City center.  The brochure about the completion program demonstrates Northwest’s commitment to regional and state workforce needs, as well as partnerships with community colleges and state entities like the Missouri Department of Higher Education.

The completion program, called the FastTracks Completion program is one example of how Northwest meets state mandates to provide more well-prepared educators. Another is Northwest’s support for the development of new teachers through alternative certification.

(4.5) Northwest alternative certification programs and educator workforce

Northwest’s Alternative Certification Program is designed for individuals who have recently accepted a teaching position and are not currently certified. Individuals in this program can obtain their certification at the Middle SchoolSecondary or K-12 certification levels. In this program, qualified candidates are employed as a teacher of record by a Missouri school district while they complete certification requirements. They obtain a two-year provisional Missouri teacher certificate and are provided classroom supervision and coaching from university personnel. Since 2001 more than 350 teachers have received certification through this program.

Northwest’s alternative certification and post-baccalaureate programs provide adults seeking teaching certification with rich, coherent programs featuring excellent feedback, 1-on-1 support from a dedicated, on-site coordinator. The professor serves as both academic advisor and methods instructor, giving clear, detailed feedback to improve pedagogy. Most alternative certification majors have meaningful career and/or life experiences, yet do not have four years to earn a degree without receiving income. Northwest alternative certification students possess a content degree, competency and content knowledge (assessed via state testing) and want to act on their interest to transition into education careers in an efficient and expedited manner. The Certification Officer works with all students individually, serving as a liaison with the content expert and education advisor to craft a unique plan for each candidate to complete the program while simultaneously earning state certification.

Alternative certification meets the needs of hard-to-staff licensure areas including Science, Mathematics, and modern languages that are especially apparent in rural and urban communities. District partners routinely indicate at professional advisory board meetings that they appreciate Northwest’s ongoing and consistent support of alternative certification and post-baccalaureate programs, especially in the outlying rural communities where candidate applications and starting salaries are limited. These programs exist to diversify paths into educator workforce, are built on partnerships, and provide evidence of coherent curriculum which meets identified state and jurisdictional needs.