Diverse Students in P-12 Schools
All initial certification candidates complete a field experience in an urban setting while enrolled in FNED 346: Schooling in a Democratic Society (undergraduate students) or FNED 546: Contexts of Schooling (graduate students), thereby assuring that all teacher preparation candidates are engaged with culturally and linguistically diverse students from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. This field experience consists of a minimum 15-hour project in a highly diverse urban P-12 school setting over the course of a semester. FNED 346 and FNED 546 field placements are arranged through the partnership with Inspiring Minds - Volunteers in Providence Schools (VIPS). We have good evidence that our candidates significantly impact student learning.
In addition to FNED 346 or FNED 546, teacher preparation candidates complete various pre-student teaching practica that provide experience with students in a variety of settings. Practica are held in schools within partnership districts. During 2009-2010, 65% of practicum courses where conducted in urban core/ring partnership districts. Diversity of students at practicum sites is significant.
Candidate experiences go well beyond their College classrooms and professors' well-planned discussions, assignments and assessments, as described above. According to Information Works (2008), 84.1% of Rhode Island students participate in public education. Of that percentage, 35% are eligible for subsidized lunch programs. Seventy-five percent of students participating in public education are white, 15.6% are Hispanic, 8.9% are African American, 3.3% are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.5% are Native American. Seven percent (7%) of the state's public school-aged population receives ESL or bilingual education while 15% receive special education services in either resource or self-contained settings. To ensure that prospective educators learn about diverse communities and teaching in these communities, candidates and interns in all preparation programs are placed in sites that reflect the culturally diverse population of Rhode Island. Programs monitor the diversity of placements; all candidates must have experiences in urban core and urban ring districts. See data placement for practicum and student teaching and data on student demographics at placement sites.
During 2010-2011 the unit formalized partnerships with 28 school districts. Over 70% of minority students in the state are educated in five of these partner districts. Recently the FSEHD initiated a data system that provides information about the diversity of field placements for each individual student and the diversity of cooperating teachers and clinical instructors. The survey conducted in 2011 revealed the following demographics of the Unit's cooperating teachers: 2.6 % non-White; 2.5% Hispanic; and 13.7% male. While the teaching force in Rhode Island is still predominately white, the selection of these practitioners is consistent with the minority representation in the teaching force of each partner district.
Opportunities for initial and advanced candidates to work with diverse students are also available on a year round basis through the Office of Community Service Learning (OCSL). Through the office, both candidates and faculty connect with a broad range of urban and rural classrooms and afterschool programs for volunteer service sites and service learning experiences. For example, teacher candidates serve as AmeriCorps members in one of the Providence AfterZones where they implement Inquiry Based STEM activities with diverse mix of middle school youth. The Afterzones is a nationally recognized model of expanded learning created and operated by Providence After School Alliance (PASA), and implemented in Providence middle schools. Like many urban areas, Providence is home to pockets of immigrant and refugee populations. Through a new pilot program between Dr. Ying Hui Michaels, Special Education, the OCSL, and Inspiring Minds, 15 teacher candidates provide in-school support to Burmese refugee children. A final example includes the M.Ed in Reading and Project GOAL partnership where 25 to 30 middle school boys, most of whom are English language learners from Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls work one on one with master's candidates. Candidates perform diagnostics, assess and tutor the students using appropriate strategies. At the end of the year, the candidates develop case studies which are then shared with their respective schools, teachers and families. See Community service learning report, Ccollaborative projects, candidate testimonies.
Consistent with the FSEHD mission, undergraduate and graduate elementary, secondary, and PK-12 candidates have multiple opportunities to create teaching and learning experiences that are effective for all children. In addition, creating positive learning environments and developing teaching strategies that are appropriate for diverse students are the focus of many other courses and are infused in all courses. Addiditonal examples:
- In ELED 437: Teaching Elementary School Science candidates examine stereotypes that are associated with scientists and extrapolate lessons learned and their application to children in elementary schools.
- In ARTE 405: Practicum in Art Education II candidates research and infuse multicultural art content, including that created by women and people of color, into their lessons.
- In SED 411-412: Practicum in Secondary Education, as well as in the Physical Education practicum sequence, candidates consistently are placed in culturally diverse sites with teachers who model good multicultural teaching, both in terms of working with culturally diverse populations and teaching about diversity.
- In Health and Physical Education candidates are provided the opportunity to work with children and adults with disabilities. The department hosts the “Special Olympics Motor Activities Training Day” for children and adults with severe disabilities. Volunteer opportunities are extended to the full College community.
- An advanced program in Special Education with an urban, multicultural concentration is a unique graduate program that provides an opportunity for urban special educators to develop competencies in areas of first-and second-language development, cross-cultural competence, and bilingual/multicultural special education. School districts involved in the project include Central Falls, East Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, and Woonsocket.
- In the Educational Leadership program, candidates take LEAD 503 Building Connections in Diverse Contexts in which they participate in a 50 hour field-based experience in an urban family or youth-serving agency or school. The primary goals of the course are to 1) promote increased engagement in education on the part of family and community members, and 2) communicate effectively with the public regarding school- related issues.
- In the Reading program, graduate candidates are involved in a 30-hour clinical placement during a six-week summer reading clinic. They work with children from across the state who are seeking reading instruction. Candidates working in teams identify reader's needs, design programs of instruction, implement the program and assess for progress.
- The Elementary Education program has outlined the squence of literacy courses to include literacy curriculum components related to English Language Learners.