University’s education program off probation

Anisa Jibrell – News Writer

A year later, the university’s education program has finally managed to emerge from the depths of its probationary woes brought on by what the State Board of Education determined to be inadequate data-collecting methods.

The Board decided to grant the university’s education program with “continuing approval” until 2019.

“We got to work and throughout this year the faculty and the staff have just been amazing,” said Dr. Stephen Hegedus, the Dean of the School of Education.  “They’ve really responded to these areas and it’s not that we weren’t doing the work, it’s just that systems had to be put in place.”

The Board gave the School of Education three years to improve the way it assesses and monitors the success of graduate students.

We needed to ensure that we could offer this continuous feedback loop,” said Hegedus, “and yes it’s been a year. We were given three years, a maximum, to address them and I was committed to addressing them in one year.”

Hegedus said he is very content with the way faculty, teachers, and partners over at the Board have come together to make these improvements.

“It’s really helped solidify us as a school of education and the broader unit,” said Hegedus.

Dr. Bette Bergeron, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, called it an “astonishing accomplishment.”

I am exceptionally proud of the dean and the faculty for this accomplishment,” said Bergeron. “It reflects highly on their very hard work over the last year and also reflects highly on the quality of the education programs here.”

There are four approval levels for educator program preparation: approval, provisional approval, probationary approval and denial. A probationary approval action is taken in the event that “significant and far-reaching non-compliance with current standards is identified.” In last year’s case, areas for improvement in data-collection methods were identified.

We need to put Southern back clearly on the map, their identity as a major premier school of education that not just prepares teachers but school professionals, school leaders, principals, superintendents in this region in the state of Connecticut,” said Hegedus.

The university’s School of Education trains the largest number of education graduates for teaching positions in the state Connecticut. The program consists of 30 majors and assists 2,122 students from the undergraduate and doctoral levels.

“Southern is a leader, and we’re very proud of that,” said President Mary A. Papazian.

However, the road to approval was complex work, according to Hegedus.

You’re dealing not just with curriculum. You’re dealing with employers and collecting data there,” said Hegedus. “You’re addressing or ensuring a diverse experience for students so they can, with some degree of reliability, address diverse populations in school settings when they’re out there.”

Most recently, in 2014, the education program earned a five-year accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

We had to ensure that we were continuingly looking at how we could improve our programs and our offerings so that we offer the very best preparation for our students here at Southern,” said Hegedus. “And the faculty are always committed to that, it’s a part of our mission.”

The program is currently working under a five-year accreditation from the Council of Educator Preparation (CAEP), a fairly new national umbrella for the advancement of education programs, and is already working towards their next wave of accreditation.

As the state works out its alignment with that, we are already set to work in looking at those standards; working with what we’ve done in the past that’s all still relevant. Building on that so it just becomes part of what we do;” said Hegedus, “who we are.”

Photo Credit: Staff Photo


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