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Standard 1: Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions


Candidates preparing to work in schools as teachers or other professional school personnel know and demonstrate the content, pedagogical content knowledge, pedagogical, and professional knowledge and skills, and professional dispositions necessary to help all students learn. Assessments indicate that candidates meet professional, state, and institutional standards.

1.1 Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions

Candidate assessment data indicate the unit's teacher candidates possess content knowledge necessary for successful entry to the teaching profession. The unit utilizes multiple assessments to evaluate its candidates' content knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Praxis II exams, cooperating teacher evaluations of student teachers, faculty evaluations of senior portfolios, and perception surveys of student teachers, first year teachers and their employers provide assessments of content knowledge and subject matter.

Content Knowledge for Teacher Candidates

All candidates at the initial level are required to complete both a content exam and the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) portions of the Praxis II.

Data Table

Title II Report: Praxis II Content Test Data

Completers for Three Years


Number Taking Assessment

Number Passing Assessment

Institutional Pass Rate

All program completers 2012-2013




All program completers 2011-2012




All program completers 2010-2011




The table above indicates unit candidates are exceeding the 80% passing rates required by state and NCATE standards. Candidates who do not pass an exam initially will often attempt the exam again. Unit data for 2013-2014 indicated a passing rate of 90% (125/139) for completers. Other key assessments utilized by the unit to analyze candidate content knowledge of subject matter include the perspectives of cooperating teachers, candidates, alumni, employers, and unit faculty.

The advanced program assesses content knowledge through portfolios, grade point average, action research, and self-assessment surveys completed at key transition points.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Teachers

Senior portfolios, exit surveys, student teacher evaluations, and surveys of first year teachers and their supervisors serve as assessment tools for candidate knowledge and performance of the unit's conceptual framework (CF).

The culminating experience for each candidate's ability to plan, implement, evaluate, and reflect occurs during student teaching through the Teaching for Learning Capstone (TLC) unit. The TLC unit design involved research of the edTPA, teacher work samples, and feedback from area P-12 partner educators. The TLC process and resources undergo yearly review. Senior portfolio review serves as an assessment of a candidate's TLC unit. Data from multiple assessments and the TLC units have helped to inform discussions for improving candidate preparation in the CF as well as specific areas such as differentiated instruction, strategies for teaching English Language Learners, and the use of assessment. The TLC unit requirement has enabled the candidates to demonstrate a more in-depth understanding of how to meet the diverse needs of all learners in the classroom. The expectation is that candidates integrate the use of technology as well as provide multiple strategies for teaching and assessing student learning. 

Assessment of the capstone portfolio reflects the CF for advanced program candidates. The data from self-assessment surveys support faculty portfolio findings that candidate confidence levels increased in the application of the CF instructional strategies. The unit's advanced program assesses pedagogical content knowledge and expertise with technologies at key transition points using self-assessments and portfolios. Faculty portfolio ratings align with candidate confidence ratings in pedagogical and technological knowledge. State reports and key assessment demonstrate in-depth candidate understanding of pedagogy and learning through meeting the state standards and the unit's conceptual framework.

Professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills for teacher candidates

Candidates apply their professional and pedagogical knowledge through their coursework and field experiences. Candidates work with cooperating teachers to gain knowledge of students' prior learning experiences as well as the context of their cooperating schools, families, and community.

Candidates gain insights into understanding and applying major schools of thought while designing developmentally appropriate instruction. Seeking and accepting feedback from cooperating teachers and university supervisors demonstrates the candidates' commitment to the profession. Candidates reflect on their practice and are encouraged to be lifelong learners. Student teacher final evaluations, TLC units, portfolios, exit surveys, first year teaching surveys, and supervisor surveys all indicate a high level of proficiency in the area of professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills. The unit's use of portfolios at both the initial and advanced levels give candidates opportunities for both specific and broad reflections on the knowledge, skills, dispositions, and conceptual framework developed through their courses and field experiences.

Assessments Related to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

Advanced program candidates are active educators who belong to professional organizations and local professional learning communities. Candidates are engaged in action research with the intent of using data to improve teaching and learning. Faculty members in the capstone portfolio assess the professional and pedagogical knowledge, skills, and dispositions of advanced candidates related to the National Board of Professional Teacher Standards (NBPTS). The standards are also assessed using survey data from candidates and graduates.

Student Learning for Teacher Candidates at the Initial Level

The four pillars of the unit's CF provide a sound basis for candidates to make a positive impact on student learning. The unit uses data from cooperating teacher final evaluations, exit surveys, TLC units, senior portfolios, first year teacher and supervisor surveys to obtain information related to assessment, monitoring and analyzing student learning. Data indicated differentiated instruction, teaching English Language Learners, and working with the assessment of student learning are areas the unit has taken action to improve.

The incorporation of the Teaching for Learning Capstone (TLC) marks one of the major changes for the unit. The unit researched the edTPA prior to involving P-12 partner educators and unit faculty members to develop its TLC unit. Integration of the TLC required the development of assessments and resources, curriculum changes in the methods courses, support labs for candidates, and training of university supervisors. The TLC unit enables candidates to plan and implement meaningful learning experiences for all students. Candidates utilize assessment strategies to make decisions to enhance student learning. Senior portfolios contain the teacher candidates' samples of student learning from the TLC unit and provide opportunities for candidates to reflect on their learning.

Key Assessments About Advanced Candidates' Ability to Assess Student Learning

Advanced candidate self-assessment survey data indicated an increase in confidence levels of candidates' understanding of major concepts and theories of learning as well as growth in the areas of assessing learning. The action research project provides candidates with the opportunity to develop expertise and leadership through the assessment of student learning and to make meaningful adjustments in their teaching practice.  Advanced candidates also use specific assignments and discussion board activities to share ideas with other candidates (P-12 teachers) in order to expand ideas for working with parents, school, and community members to support student learning.

Professional knowledge and skills for other school professionals

While recognized through the American Library Association (ALA) and American Association of School Librarians (AASL), the Library and Information Technologies concentration does not require content tests for its candidates.

Student learning for other school professionals

The Library and Information Technologies concentration received national recognition through the ALA/AASL.

Professional dispositions

The unit's goal is for candidates to demonstrate learning environment behaviors that are fair, free of bias, caring, respectful, and encourage self-directed learning. Candidates become familiar with the dispositions expected of teachers during Introduction to Education. Cooperating teachers assess candidate dispositions during four field experiences. Unit faculty members assess candidate dispositions in methods courses. Faculty members with concerns regarding a candidate's professional dispositions may complete a referral form. Candidates lacking any of the professional dispositions may result in formulation of a professional growth plan. Significant concerns may result in discussions regarding continuation in the teacher education program. Candidates have a right to appeal any concerns or decisions with the dean of education.

The collection of advanced program dispositions from core courses and the Capstone Portfolio course address the same criteria as the initial program. The selection of specific courses ensures assessment by multiple faculty members at varying points throughout the program and guarantees completed dispositions in courses taken by all candidates.

Continuous Improvement

Summarize activities and changes based on data that have led to continuous improvement of candidate performance and program quality.

The unit continuously assesses its program based on unit data, research in the field, collaborative ideas shared with other Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs), and insights from P-12 partners. The goal is to improve teacher candidate knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Since the unit's last NCATE visit, the following data driven changes have taken place:

1.      The unit used information from its stakeholders to make a data driven decision to lengthen the time of student teaching from 10 to 12 weeks. Feedback from teacher candidates, unit faculty, the Teacher Education Committee (TEC), local cooperating teachers and administrators led to the final decision. Follow-up research supported the benefit to teacher candidates.

2.      The unit studied the relationship between teacher candidate grade point averages (GPA) and cooperating teacher final evaluations of student teachers in making a decision to raise the minimum GPA criteria for program admission from 2.50 to 2.75. An ad-hoc group formed by the TEC studied the data and discussed the pros and cons thoroughly before making a final decision. Teacher candidates with a GPA between 2.50 and 2.74 have an opportunity to appeal.

3.      Classroom management data gathered from multiple assessments indicated the unit could do more to help prepare candidates in this area. The unit added EDUC 351 Secondary Practicum and Classroom Management for secondary majors and improved EDUC 350 Elementary Practicum and Classroom Management for elementary majors so both courses provide additional opportunities to learn and practice classroom management strategies.

4.      Multiple data sources indicated the need for making improvements in the areas of differentiated instruction and teaching English language learners. The unit hosted a workshop with area P-12 educators and follow-up online communications to develop a strategies booklet for the unit's methods teachers and candidates that included sections on differentiated instruction and English language learners. The unit's methods teachers have incorporated strategies from the booklet into their courses and provided candidates with access to the booklet as a resource.

5.      Multiple data sources suggested the unit could do more to prepare candidates in assessment strategies. Unit faculty members collaborated with P-12 educators to include a section in the strategies booklet addressing formative assessment strategies for faculty, teachers, and candidates. The unit gathered a separate group of area P-12 educators to reshape and rename a professional education sequence course, EDUC 450 Trends in Assessment and Educational Issues. The P-12 educators helped to select the textbook and identify important terms and concepts teacher candidates need to learn about assessment for student learning.

6.      The development of the TLC unit resulted from a data driven decision to strengthen teacher candidate preparation. The areas of differentiated instruction, English language learner strategies, and assessment of student learning align with the unit's desire to add depth to the application of its conceptual framework. The TLC unit provides candidates an opportunity to put theory into practice and use data to assess student learning.

7.      Another action taken to improve candidate preparation and student learning involved the implementation of co-teaching strategies. The unit studied the research, sent representatives to St. Cloud State to discuss its co-teaching findings, attended workshops, and shared the research with unit faculty and stakeholders before proceeding to bring the lead researchers to campus. Unit field experience representatives have led numerous training sessions with cooperating teachers, university supervisors, and teacher candidates.

8.      The unit viewed the revised InTASC standards (2011) as an opportunity to improve its student teacher evaluation forms. The unit worked with 20 area P-12 educators and field experience representatives from North Dakota State University (NDSU) and Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) to develop a new student teacher evaluation instrument. The data gathered has been one of the multiple assessment sources utilized for program improvement.

9.      The unit experienced substantial program change in assessing and sharing data with other EPPs through the Bush Grant Network for Excellence in Teaching (NExT). The 14 institutions involved with the Bush Grant Network developed common metric assessment surveys for graduating student teachers (exit survey), first year teachers (transition to teaching survey), and supervisors of first year teachers (supervisor survey). The instruments reflect appropriate levels of reliability and validity. The assessment data have influenced unit decisions for improvement in the areas of classroom management, assessment, differentiation of instruction, and teaching English language learners.

10.    The unit considers its P-12 assessment sharing sessions and opportunities for collaborating with other EPPs to be invaluable. Each year the unit shares data with stakeholders from area P-12 partner schools and unit faculty. The discussions influence unit decisions for change.

11.    Student teacher survey feedback from secondary education majors indicated that candidates felt additional field experience time before student teaching would be beneficial. Created in 2012, a new course and field experience ensures that all secondary majors have at least three field experiences prior to student teaching.

12.    Job market demands in the field of education and data from the common metrics exit and transition to teaching surveys resulted in the addition of a special education endorsement.

13.    With the increased emphasis on the common core and P-12 standardized test influences, the unit added one credit to its EDUC 315 Math Methods for Elementary Teachers course.

14.    The advanced program's analysis of data led to strengthening curriculum in the following areas: student assessment (formative and summative), strategies for working with parents and community, strengthen supervisor/leader skills, curriculum development and planning, and research.

Discuss plans for sustaining and enhancing performance through continuous improvement as articulated in this standard.

Plans for sustaining and enhancing performance related to Standard 1 include continuing the transformative changes that have resulted from a 1.4 million dollar Bush Grant awarded in 2009. The grant increased the unit's capacity to gather and use data for program improvement. An example of a response to data involved unit action to organize P-12 and higher education work groups to create an instructional strategies booklet for VCSU method teachers. P-12 educators collaborated with unit faculty members in developing instructional strategies for differentiated instruction, teaching English Language Learners, formative assessment, and integrating technology in the classroom. Assessment data has been and will continue to be a major part of the unit's decision-making. The ability to view unit data in comparison to other Bush Grant partners has provided additional benefits in assessing unit strengths and weaknesses for unit decisions for improvement in the teacher preparation program.

The unit intends to sustain the changes implemented in the curriculum resulting from its Bush Grant efforts. The Teaching for Learning Capstone (TLC) enables candidates to plan and implement meaningful learning experiences for all students. Candidates utilize assessment strategies to make decisions to enhance student learning. Candidates use their own teaching video and reflective writing to examine their practice for continuous improvement.

The unit will continue its P-12 partnerships by utilizing focus group meetings with classroom teachers and administrators. The unit is committed to training faculty, classroom teachers, administrators, and candidates in the use of co-teaching strategies. The unit will also continue to implement changes in the curriculum that involve an emphasis on differentiation, ELL strategies, formative assessment, classroom management, technology integration, and embedded field experiences.

The advanced program gathers and uses assessment data that contributes to decision-making by graduate faculty, graduate council, and the director. Data gathered from candidates contributed to the decisions to pursue additional concentrations in Teaching English Language Learners, Elementary Education, and English Education. Data suggested areas of weakness in research requirements and candidate retention. This led to the development of annual data sharing and focus group meetings. These focus group meetings include P-12 master teachers, administrators, and alumni. Their purpose is to view assessment data and provide feedback for decision-making.

Analysis of the candidate assessments and alumni surveys indicated a need to strengthen curriculum in the following areas: student assessment (formative and summative), strategies for working with parents and community, supervisor/leader skills, curriculum development and planning, and research. Faculty focus groups will be used to identify areas of the curriculum to strengthen, and all concentrations will identify common expectations and understandings.

Advisors and candidates may rely on developed examples and programs of study templates to assist with increasing retention and completion rates. While data do not indicate poor retention and completion rates, seeking improvements is worthwhile. Additionally, assigning graduate candidates to cohort groups fulfills management, communication and tracking purposes. This model will help keep accurate records of completion rates and timelines for the program.

1.3 Areas for Improvement Cited in the Action Report from the Previous Accreditation Review.

The unit did not have any areas for improvement cited in its previous accreditation review.

Exhibits for Standard 1


State program review documents and state findings

exhibit 1.4.a.1 State Findings in Content Expert Reports

exhibit 1.4.a.2 Link to State Program Reports


Title II reports for the previous three years (Title II report data)

exhibit 1.4.b.1 2014 report

exhibit 1.4.b.2 2013 report

exhibit 1.4.b.3 2012 report


Key assessments and scoring guides used for assessing candidate learning against professional and state standards as well as proficiencies identified in the unit's conceptual framework:

exhibit 1.4.c.1 Entry Survey (At time of initial coursework in the program)

exhibit 1.4.c.2 Exit Survey  (Student Teachers shortly before graduation)

exhibit 1.4.c.3 Transition to Teaching Survey (1st year teachers)

exhibit 1.4.c.4 Supervisor Survey (Employers of 1st Year Teachers)

exhibit 1.4.c.5 Assessment Instrument Reliability and Validity Analyses

exhibit 1.4.c.6  Advanced Program State Report  (Examples of Key Assessments)

exhibit 1.4.c.7  Advanced Program Alumni Survey Reliability Analysis

exhibit 1.4.c.8  Advanced Program Capstone Survey Reliability Analysis

exhibit 1.4.c.9  Example of Student Teaching Final Evaluation Form for Elementary Education

exhibit 1.4.c.10 Example of Student Teaching Progress Evaluation Form for Elementary Education

exhibit 1.4.c.11 Example of Student Teaching Final Evaluation Form for Math Education

exhibit 1.4.c.12 Access to Student Teacher Evaluation Forms  exhibit 1.4.c.13 Advanced Program Self-Assessment Instruments

exhibit 1.4.c.14 Advanced Program Capstone Assessment Assignment Instrument

exhibit 1.4.c.15 Advanced Program Field Experience Handbook


Aggregate data on key assessments, including proficiencies identified in the unit's conceptual framework:

exhibit 1.4.d.1 Grade Point Average (GPA) Aggregated and Disaggregated

exhibit 1.4.d.2 GPA and Student Teacher Mean Score Data

exhibit 1.4.d.3 Aggregate Basic Skills Testing Data (Pre-Professional Skills Test -PPST)

exhibit 1.4.d.4 Disaggregated Basic Skills (PPST) Testing

exhibit 1.4.d.5 Aggregated and Disaggregated Praxis II Data

exhibit 1.4.d.6 Aggregated Student Teaching Data

exhibit 1.4.d.7 Disaggregated Student Teaching Data  

The following data are not disaggregated for increased protection of the individuals completing the surveys:

exhibit 1.4.d.8 Exit Survey Data (student teachers before graduation)

exhibit 1.4.d.9 Transition to Teaching Data (Alumni who are 1st year teachers)

exhibit 1.4.d.10 Supervisor Survey Data (employers of alumni)

exhibit 1.4.d.11 Advanced Program Data

exhibit 1.4.d.12 Conceptual Framework Data

exhibit 1.4.d.13 Example of Comparative Exit Survey Data Report

exhibit 1.4.d.14 Changes and Data Driven Decisions Since 2008

exhibit 1.4.d.15 Candidates Integrate Technology with Students

exhibit 1.4.d.16 Candidates consider School, Family, Community, and Real-World Issues

exhibit 1.4.d.17 Candidates Exhibit Content Knowledge by Teaching Subject Matter Effectively


Key assessments and scoring guides used for assessing professional dispositions, including fairness and the belief that all students can learn

exhibit 1.4.e.1 Disposition Assessment Instrument

exhibit 1.4.e.2 Disposition Reminders

exhibit 1.4.e.3 Disposition Help Document for Faculty

exhibit 1.4.e.4 Candidate Referral Form

exhibit 1.4.e.5 Advanced Program Disposition Form in Central Assessment System


Aggregate data on key assessments of candidates' professional dispositions

exhibit 1.4.f.1 Aggregated and Disaggregated Initial Program Disposition Data

exhibit 1.4.f.2 Aggregated and Disaggregated Advanced Program Disposition Data


Examples of candidates' assessment and analysis of P-12 student learning

exhibit 1.4.g.1 Candidate Work Samples of P-12 Student Learning

exhibit 1.4.g.2 Teaching for Learning Capstone - TLC - Template

exhibit 1.4.g.3 Candidate TLC Work Samples of P-12 Student Learning

exhibit 1.4.g.4 Advanced Program Action Research Template

exhibit 1.4.g.5 Advanced Program Action Research Sample of P-12 Learning

exhibit 1.4.g.6 Advanced Program Action Research Sample of Full Report


Examples of candidates' work (portfolios) from programs across the unit

Initial Program:

exhibit 1.4.h.1 Business

exhibit 1.4.h.2 Elementary

exhibit 1.4.h.3 Science

exhibit 1.4.h.4 Technology Education

Advanced Program

exhibit 1.4.h.5 Teaching and Technology

exhibit 1.4.h.6 Technology Education

exhibit 1.4.h.7 Library and Information Technologies

exhibit 1.4.h.8 Teaching English Language Learners


Aggregate data on follow-up studies of graduates

exhibit 1.4.i.1 Transition to Teaching Survey (Alumni at Initial Level)

exhibit 1.4.i.2 Alumni Survey (Advanced)


Aggregate data on supervisor (employer/principal) feedback on graduates

exhibit 1.4.j.1 Supervisor Survey (Initial)

exhibit 1.4.j.2 Supervisor Survey (Advanced)

exhibit 1.4.j.3 Feedback from Administrators and Advanced Program Stakeholders


Data collected by state and/or national agencies on performance of educator preparation programs and the effectiveness of their graduates in classrooms and schools, including student achievement data, when available 

exhibit 1.4.k.1 These data are not available for EPPs in the state of North Dakota

VCSU Conceptual Framework

Candidates PLAN, IMPLEMENT, EVALUATE, and REFLECT on lessons for learning

1.4.a.1 Content Expert Report to CAEP from ESPB Team_Final

1.4.a.2 Link to Access State Reports

1.4.b.1 2014 Title II Report

1.4.b.2 2013 Title II Report

1.4.b.3 2012 Title II Report

1.4.c.1 Entry Survey Instrument

1.4.c.2 Exit Survey Instrument

1.4.c.3 First-Year Teacher Survey Instrument

1.4.c.5 Supervisor Survey Instrument

1.4.c.5a and 2.4.c.2 Entry Survey Factor Analysis

1.4.c.5b and 2.4.c.3 Exit Survey Factor Analysis

1.4.c.5c and 2.4.c.4 Transition to Teaching Factor Analysis

1.4.c.5d and 2.4.c.5 Supervisor Survey Analysis

1.4.c.7 and 2.4.c.6 Advanced Program Reliability Analysis of Alumni Survey

1.4.c.8 and 2.4.c.7 Advanced Program Reliability Analysis of Capstone Assessment Survey

1.4.c.9 and 3.4.a.6 and 3.4.f.3 Student Teacher Final Evaluation for Elementary Education

1.4.c.10 and 3.4.a.7 and 3.4.f.2 Student Teacher Progress Evaluation for Elementary Education

1.4.c.11 and 3.4.a.8 Student Teacher Final Evaluation for Mathematics Education

1.4.c.13 Advanced Program Self Assessment Instrument

1.4.c.14 Advanced Program Capstone Assessment Assignment Instrument

1.4.c.15 and 3.4.e.7 Advanced Program Field Experience Handbook

1.4.d.1 GPA data for 2014 state report

1.4.d.2 GPA and Student Teacher Mean Score Comparison Data

1.4.d.3 Aggregate PPST Data

1.4.d.4 Disaggregated PPST Data

1.4.d.5 Praxis II Passing Percentages

1.4.d.7 Student Teacher Data Disaggregated

1.4.d.8 Exit Survey Data

1.4.d.9 and 1.4.i.1 Transition to Teaching Data

1.4.d.10 and 1.4.j.1 Supervisor Survey Data (Initial)

1.4.d.11 Advanced Program Data

I.5.c.1 and 1.4.d.12 Conceptual Framework Data Exhibit

1.4.d.13 Sample of Comparative Survey Data

1.4.d.14 Changes and Data Driven Decisions since 2008

1.4.d.15 Appropriate Integration of Technology

1.4.d.16 School, Family, Community, and Real-World Issues

1.4.d.17 Candidates Teach Subject Matter Effectively

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