Teacher education program scores “exemplary” on state report card

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University’s teacher education program remains at the head of the class after receiving designation as “exemplary” for the second consecutive year, according to a report card issued Thursday, Dec. 12, by the N.C. State Board of Education.

Western earned a score of 133 out of a possible 140 in the Performance Report on Teacher Education Programs for 2001-02, placing WCU among the top three programs of the 48 institutions of higher education in North Carolina that offer teacher education.

“Western was founded as a teacher education institution, and preparing highly qualified teachers has always been among the hallmarks of this university,” said Chancellor John W. Bardo. “It is quite an accomplishment for our teacher education faculty and staff to continue to receive such recognition for their outstanding efforts. Teacher education remains one of the primary pillars on which we will build the future of this university.”

The report, required by the Excellent Schools Act, was issued by the State Board of Education during its December meeting in Raleigh. It represents North Carolina’s primary effort to hold colleges and universities accountable for their role in preparing classroom teachers to work in the state’s schools. Each program is evaluated in a variety of categories, including graduate and employer surveys, test scores of prospective teachers and teacher education graduates, and the percentage of teachers employed.

Institutions receiving 126 or more points are designated “exemplary,” while those earning 97 points or less are designated “low-performing” and are required to submit plans for program improvement, said A. Michael Dougherty, dean of Western’s College of Education and Allied Professions.

Institutions also rated as exemplary are Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, Elon University, and University of North Carolina campuses at Greensboro, Pembroke and Wilmington.

“It is truly an honor to again be selected as an exemplary teacher education university,” Dougherty said. “We have a wonderful teacher education faculty and staff, and I am delighted they have been recognized in this manner for their outstanding efforts in educating teachers.”

Dougherty attributed Western’s exemplary ranking to widespread institutional support at the university, including not just faculty and staff within the College of Education and Allied Professions, where the teacher education program is housed, but also from the College of Arts and Sciences. He also pointed to a growing number of partnerships with public school systems.

Those partnership efforts include the Model Clinical Teaching Program, in which practicing public school teachers co-teach several courses with WCU faculty to bring a “real-world” perspective to the classroom, and the placement of interns and student teachers in public schools from Cherokee County to Transylvania County, Dougherty said.

Leaders of two Western North Carolina school systems said they were not surprised to learn of the high rating of Western Carolina’s teacher education program.

“We always enjoy meeting with teacher education candidates from Western, as we are well aware of the quality of their preparation,” said Cliff Dodson, superintendent of Buncombe County Schools.

“The conceptual framework of Western’s College of Education and Allied Professions, ‘A Community of Learners Based on Knowledge, Skills and Experiences,’ prepares their students to effectively teach our young people of today,” said Robert Logan, superintendent of Asheville City Schools.