Page 1

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA / FALL 2018

College of Education

SPECIAL ISSUE

Where Have the Teachers Gone? ADDRESSING THE TEACHER SHORTAGE

plus LEADING BY EXAMPLE RECRUITING AT THE CORE RETAINING THE BEST


Contents

pg. 8 Special Issue: Addressing the teacher shortage 4/ Leading by example Alumni Akil Ross and Erica Page named the best school administrators in nation.

6/ Recruiting at the core FALL 2018

New program aims to increase the number minority teachers in South Carolina.

College of Education Dean / Jon Pedersen Director of Communications / Kathryn McPhail

8/ Retaining the best

Stay Connected: University Home Page: sc.edu College of Education: sc.edu/education Facebook: @USCCollegeofeducation Twitter: @UofSCeducation LinkedIn: bit.ly/SCCOEAlumni Support the College: giving.sc.edu/education Designer / Todd Martin Contributing writers / Megan Sexton The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, genetics, age, disability, sexual orientation, or veteran status. The University of South Carolina has designated as the ADA Title II, Section 504 and Title IX coordinator the Executive Assistant to the President for Equal Opportunity Programs. The Office of the Executive Assistant to the President for Equal Opportunity Programs is located at 1600 Hampton Street, Suite 805, Columbia, SC; telephone 803-777-3854. UCS 18-10642 | 73828 8/18

CarolinaTIP earns A+ from teachers.

11/ Clearing a path College of Education, Midlands Technical College create seamless transfer for education students.

12/ Beyond theory Solving problems and enriching lives through research.

14/ The science of education COE adopts user-centered approached to improving teaching and learning.

On the cover ­— As the statewide teacher shortage grows, a leadership void looms in South Carolina classrooms. The College of Education is tackling the crisis head-on through coordinated research, teaching, support and advocacy efforts.


Where have the teachers gone?

T

he College of Education is committed to tackling the growing teacher shortage in South Carolina through inclusive recruitment, retention, career support and advocacy for the profession and the more than 50,000

teachers who serve our children. We realize our attempts to recruit

students to study education will be fruitless if we do not improve the profession as a whole. It is not enough to say we value teachers, but we must prove that through our actions. In this publication, we’ll share the recruitment and retention efforts underway now at the University of South Carolina to encourage more students to consider the education profession and to keep our best teachers in the classroom where they belong. To recruit more students into our teaching programs, the College of Education is offering scholarships and support to students from underrepresented populations through our new Apple Core Initiative. We are enhancing our online degree programs to offer non-traditional students more options for

JON PEDERSEN

completing undergraduate and graduate degrees. A newly signed agreement will allow students to easily transfer from Midlands

DEAN OF COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Technical College to the university, saving them between $13,000 $19,000 and creating another pathway to becoming a teacher. Recruitment is important, but retention of current educators is essential. If we could retain just 25 percent of the South Carolina teachers who leave the profession each year, we would reduce the shortage by 1,000 teachers. Last year, we launched a retention effort called Carolina Teacher Induction Program (CarolinaTIP) to support our new education alumni for the first three years after they graduate. Knowing that as many as 30 percent of teachers quit within the first five years, we are proud to say that 100 percent of the teachers who participated in the inaugural program stayed in the classroom. This fall, we are expanding the program to include about 70 teachers. Our goal is to one day serve all Gamecock alumni who choose to teach in South Carolina. I often quote an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I firmly believe that we — teachers, school administrators, universities, lawmakers, parents and students — must work together to overcome the education crisis facing our state.

U NI V E RS I T Y O F S O U T H C A R O LIN A

/3


Addressing the Teacher Shortage

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

CAREER SUPPORT

CAREER SUPPORT

Leading by example

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

ADVOCACY

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

ADVOCACY

T

his year, two College of EducaAkil Ross, National Principal of the Year tion alumni were honored as the While teaching at Eau Claire High School in Columbia, South Carolina, Ross earned best administrators in nation. his master’s degree and doctorate from the College of Education. He credits the Chapin High School principal, Akil education faculty for immersing him in the study of equity in Ross, was named the 2018 National Addressing the Teacher Shortage Addressing the Teacher Shortage education where he took a deep and critical look at how Principal of the Year and Pelion High RESEARCH RESEARCH race, culture and socio-economic status impact teachSchool assistant principal, Erica Page, ing and a child’s learning. was named the 2018 National Assistant “While at Carolina, I came to realize that educaPrincipal of the Year by the National Astors are artists with purpose and mission in our sociation of Secondary School Principals. work,” Ross says. “Our students bring their experiLeading up to the national award, Ross ences, both good and bad, to the classroom. We and Page also were named the state must find a way to help them prepare for the world.” Principal/Assistant Principal of the Year After earning his doctorate, Ross landed a position by the South Carolina Association of as assistant principal at Chapin High School in Chapin, School Administrators. South Carolina. Under Ross’s leadership, Chapin High School’s graduation rate increased from 82 percent to 96 percent, with 90 percent of graduating seniors attending a two or four-year colleges. Math proficiency among AfricanAmerican students rose 16 points. In February, Ross accepted a position as the director of secondary education for Lexington-Richland School District 5.

Erica Page, National Assistant Principal of the Year Page began teaching at White Knoll High School in Lexington County in 2007 and later earned a master's degree in educational administration from the university. “Carolina is truly preparing their graduates to become top leaders in their profession and supports their professional growth,” Page says. “At Carolina, they supported my deep belief that as educators, we must empower all of our students, believe in them and advocate for them.” After earning her master’s degree, Page became the assistant principal at Pelion High School, also in Lexington County. Since then, the high school achieved the highest graduation rate in school history and at least 97 percent of graduating students since 2015 have been accepted into a college or university or enlisted in the military. “I don’t take for granted the impact I, as an educator, can have on kids, Page says. “I always say that education is the best way to give back to a community, and that is why I’m devoted to this profession.”

4 / CO L LE GE O F E D UC ATI ON


Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RECRUITMENT

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RETENTION

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RECRUITMENT

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RETENTION

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

CAREER SUPPORT

CAREER SUPPORT

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

ADVOCACY

ADVOCACY

From custodian to teacher

Addressing the Teacher Shortage Addressing the Teacher Shortage Former elementary school janitor becomes fifth-grade teacher thanks to Palmetto College RESEARCH RESEARCH

It’s an all-too-common story. High school graduate goes to college with the best of intentions, but financial and family obstacles lead him to drop out of school during freshman year. That’s the way the story began for Pennsylvania native David Dutka. But cut to 14 years later, and the ending is a happy one. In May, Dutka was one of 17 students to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education through Palmetto College, the University of South Carolina’s online degree completion program. “The online learning environment of Palmetto College allowed me the flexibility to continue working, which was imperative for me and my family,” Dutka says.

Dutka is the first person in his family to earn a college degree, and in August he will begin his first year as a fifth-grade teacher at Midway Elementary School in Lexington, South Carolina — the same school where he repaired pipes and buffed floors as a custodian for several years. After earning an associate degree at Midlands Technical College, Dutka enrolled in the elementary education program through Palmetto College. During this time, he joined the custodial staff at Midway Elementary full time. “I’ve always considered myself a lifelong learner,” Dutka says. “Whether I was working with the maintenance crew learning about plumbing or in my university courses

learning about teaching strategies, I just really enjoy learning new things.” Like all College of Education students, Dutka was taught by experienced education professors and spent weeks in the classroom alongside veteran public-school educators during his clinical experiences. He is proof that if you continue to pursue your dreams no matter the obstacles, you can find success. The next time Dutka walks through the doors of Midway Elementary, he won’t be carrying a broom or hammer. Instead, he’ll bring the tools of an educator — a heart for service, a skill for inspiring children to learn and a No. 2 pencil, of course.

U NI V E RS I T Y O F S O U TH C A R O LIN A

/5


Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RECRUITMENT

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RETENTION

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RECRUITMENT

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RETENTION

RECRUITING AT THE CORE

Innovative initiative provides scholarships and support for minority students

Freshman Marisa Green always knew she wanted to study Addressing the Teacher Shortage education and then teach in her small hometown of Winnsboro, CAREER SUPPORT CAREER SUPPORT South Carolina. However, Green says she was hesitant to attend the University of South Carolina because she worried that a larger city like Columbia might be overwhelming for her. “I come from a very small town, where everyone knows everyone. Or at least, you Addressing the Teacher Shortage Addressing the Teacher Shortage know someone who knows everyone,” she ADVOCACY ADVOCACY says with a laugh. “But, the College of Education offered me an opportunity that was impossible to turn down.” What Green couldn’t turn down was the opportunity to participate in the College of Education’s Apple Core Initiative, a new Addressing the Teacher Shortage Addressing the Teacher Shortage program aimed at recruiting high RESEARCH RESEARCH school students from historically underrepresented populations of the state into teacher education programs at the University of South Carolina. “Research shows that if an African-American child has just one minority teacher between the third through fifth grade, his or her Addressing the Teacher Shortage

school drop-out risk decreases by nearly 30 percent. What a huge — and positive — impact that is,” says Margo Jackson, Apple Core Initiative co-coordinator and director of Student Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement at the College of Education. “But in South Carolina, less than 20 percent of our teachers are minorities.” To increase diversity among South Carolina’s teachers while also tackling the growing teacher shortage, the college launched the initiative beginning with the fall 2018 freshman class. Ten students are taking part in the pilot program, which offers a culturally-relevant curriculum aimed at helping students understand and appreciate diversity. Each student will also receive a $3,000 annual scholarship, funded by vital College of Education annual fund contributions. “We wanted not only to encourage them to study education at Carolina, but also help them begin their careers on a strong footing by offsetting the cost of their education,” Jackson says. The pilot cohort will live in the same dormitory and participate in regular workshops aimed at easing their transition into college life, creating a sense of community and helping them overcome any issues that may stand in the way of their success. Students also will receive additional training in the Praxis Core exam, which all education undergraduates must pass to become certified teachers. “Given the university’s efforts to increase the percentage of minority students, we are outlining ways to provide extra support to those students and remove the barriers to their success,” says Jennifer Clyburn-Reed, program co-coordinator. For students like Green, having that support is critical to her success in college, and ultimately contributes to her accomplishments as a teacher in South Carolina and that of her future students. “Though I am still nervous about college, I feel like Carolina — by offering the Apple Core Initiative — is saying, ‘somebody is there for you. You are not alone in this journey.’ And, that means so much to me,” Green says.


Addressing the Teacher Shortage

ADVOCACY

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

Quality of CarolinaLIFE Inclusive program benefits students, future teachers and the community

A few powerful words spoken to him as a child continue to impact Ronald Parker’s life. “My parents said to me, ‘Ronald, you may have a disability. But, a disability doesn’t have you. You are more than your disability,’” says Parker. Parker, who received specialized instruction for learning difficulties throughout his schooling, is now a junior in the CarolinaLIFE program housed in the College of Education. Founded in 2008 by a group of parents looking for postsecondary options for their children, CarolinaLIFE provides an inclusive college experience for students with diverse learning needs. More than 80 students have been served by the program, taking courses related to their professional field of interest while learning skills they’ll need for eventual employment and independent living.

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

ADVOCACY

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

CarolinaLIFE also supports the professional development of preRESEARCH RESEARCH service teachers, about 20 of whom work as graduate assistants for the program each year. They teach courses and serve as academic, employment and personal development coaches. “We feel that this experience sets our graduate assistants apart once they become teachers,” says Anthony Plotner, program director and associate professor. “They have quality experiences in providing support and instruction for students with diverse needs.” In addition to providing valuable experience for future educators, CarolinaLIFE serves as a pipeline of entry-level employees for business partners such as Lexington Medical Center, EdVenture Children’s Museum and local school districts. Students complete the CarolinaLIFE program equipped to enter the workforce and contribute to South Carolina’s economy. “Many of our graduates have full-time jobs and live independently, which benefits our communities,” Plotner says. “We truly represent our motto — Learning is for Everyone. We believe all students can thrive at the university with the correct amount of support.” Part of that support comes in the form of internships for CarolinaLIFE students. Partnerships with organizations inside and outside the university provide valuable work experience for students. Parker, who played football in high school and grew up cheering for South Carolina, was offered an internship with the Gamecock football team. “I said yes immediately,” Parker says. “My experience with CarolinaLIFE has taught me to be fearless, regardless of my disability. My internship has been a great experience. Athletes who I have admired are now my friends. My future goal is to work for a college sports team and maybe the NFL one day. I’m gaining great experience now that will hopefully allow me to reach that goal.”

AN IMPACT WORTH SUPPORTING The far-reaching impact of CarolinaLIFE led the College of Education to choose the program as its focus for Give 4 Garnet, the university’s annual giving day in April. The fundraiser brought in $3.7 million university-wide, with the College of Education more than doubling its goal and raising $35,000 for CarolinaLIFE. To support CarolinaLIFE and students like Ronald Parker, visit giving.sc.edu/education.

U NI V E RS I T Y O F S O U T H C A R O LIN A

/7


Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RETENTION

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RETENTION

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

CAREER SUPPORT

CAREER SUPPORT

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

Retaining the best

ADVOCACY

ADVOCACY

CAROLINATIP EARNS A+ FROM TEACHERS

Addressing the Teacher Shortage College of Education

the Teacher alumna Alison Addressing Schriro ended her Shortage first year RESEARCH of teaching exhausted but optimistic RESEARCH about her future. “I walked away from my first year feeling like I had a really, really great year. And I don’t always think that happens with new teachers,” says Schriro, a math teacher at Dreher High School in Columbia, South Carolina. About 35 percent of new teachers in South Carolina leave the profession in the first five years. Schriro admits the first year was tougher than she expected, especially when learning to command a classroom of high school freshmen. “Midway through the year, right before Christmas break, I hit my breaking point,” Schriro says. “I couldn’t get my students to respect each other. They bickered, made fun of each other and brought outside drama into the classroom. It disrupted learning. I knew I had to figure out what I could — and should — do to get them to be civil and on task.”

room management was a roller coaster for me,” Karlee Baxter says. “I taught my classroom procedures and set expectations for my students from the first day of school, but I found myself having to go over procedures time and time again, which was eating up time for instruction.” Baxter and Schriro reached out to Nicole Skeen, a veteran educator and leader of the College of Education’s new teacher retention program called Carolina Teacher Induction Program or CarolinaTIP. “We met for lunch over winter break and we ended up talking for hours,” Schriro says. “Honestly, I cried. We hashed it out. I left our meeting feeling empowered to launch a new game plan in the new year.” Baxter had a positive experience with Skeen’s direction as well. “She recommended that I reset the clock, so to speak, during the winter break and start fresh in the new year,” Baxter says. “She suggested that I slow down and really concentrate on those classroom procedures — from walking down the hall to how to behave in the lunchroom — and reset expectations for the class because those management procedures will make a huge difference for my students.” The new teachers used Skeen’s support and advice to help them implement new procedures and philosophies in their classrooms, which they say changed the trajectory of their year. “Near the end of the year, I had this moment. I realized and told my freshmen that they were my favorite class now,” Schriro says

“The reason I choose Carolina was the College of Education wanted us in the classroom from day one of our learning. And now that we are leading our own classrooms, Carolina is still here to support us. That’s an awesome commitment.” Fifteen miles away, another University of South Carolina education alumna was facing her own mid-year challenges in her second-grade classroom at Irmo Elementary School. “Class-

8 / COLLE GE O F E D UC AT I ON


Karlee Baxter (left) with two students at Irmo Elementary School and CarolinaTIP coordinator Nicole Skeen.

with a laugh. “I guess I learned right along with them as we all faced this new experience. After setting and sticking to new rules and procedures for acting civil toward each other, I could see them begin to mature, and their mastery of math skills went up quickly.” For Baxter, her administrators and colleagues took notice of the change in her students. “My principal said she could tell a difference, and other teacher were talking about how my students behaved in the hallway and in cafeteria,” Baxter says. “Their feedback was reassurance that my classroom management changes were working. Now, I have a head start on next year. I will be able to come back to school with confidence and a better plan for success for me and my students.” Providing new teachers support is the main goal of CarolinaTIP. Baxter and Schriro were two of 15 recent Carolina alumni who took part in the retention program’s inaugural year. During its first year, CarolinaTIP focused on graduates who were

teaching at one of the 18 Professional Development Schools in the Midlands where the College of Education has deep and sustained partnerships. The group of teachers, who held Saturday workshops throughout the year, represented nine schools in four school districts. CarolinaTIP “coaches” helped the teachers implement best practices ranging from behavior management to instructional strategies. Skeen observed the participating teachers in their classrooms numerous times throughout the school year to help them identify ways to improve. She realized she was helping them emotionally as much as professionally. “I expected to focus more on instructional support in our first year but found that what our new teachers really needed was emotional support,” Skeen says. “At various times, they needed a cheerleader, a counselor or a confidant. Those first years can be overwhelming. Of course, we did work on how to put into practice all the rich theory they learned at Carolina, but we also lisU NI V E RS I T Y O F S O U T H C A R O LIN A

/9


Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RETENTION

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RETENTION

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

tened to their needs and adapted our program to meet those needs.” CAREER SUPPORT CAREER SUPPORT

Skeen says the three-year program will incorporate elements of emotional support, instructional coaching and leadership development. Baxter says the program positively impacted her first-year teaching experience. “The reason I choose Carolina was the College of Education wanted us in the classroom from day Addressing one of our Baxter thelearning,” Teacher Shortage Addressing the Teacher Shortage says. “And now that we are leading our own classrooms, Carolina ADVOCACY ADVOCACY is still here to support us. That’s an awesome commitment.”

Proven successful, with 100 percent of the participating teachers returning to the classroom next year, the program is growing quickly as it expands to more schools and one new district. This fall, about 50 additional teachers will enter the program for a total of 65 education alumni served. Last year, Colonial Life donated $25,000 to support the start of the program. As a company invested in the support of education, Colonial Life is expanding its role as a vital business partner with a $50,000 donation to the program this year. In addition, CarolinaTIP added a full-time lead coach, Angela Adams, to join Skeen and the other lead coach, Morgan Lee, in the development and implementation of teacher support. To-

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RESEARCH

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RESEARCH

gether, the three have more than 65 years of teaching, coaching and educational administration experience. “We are still building and refining this program as it grows,” Skeen says. “Our goal is to create a model that can be replicated across the state so we can serve all College of Education alumni teaching in South Carolina. Perhaps, with proven success and funding, we can expand this mission to include all new teachers in our state, no matter where they earned their degree. Our state

Michelle Floyd, a teacher at A.J. Lewis Greenview Elementary, is one of nearly 70 educators who are participating in CarolinaTIP this year.

is facing a dire teacher shortage, and retaining teachers is key to tackling this issue. We are dedicated to helping teachers enjoy rewarding and lifelong careers serving children.” To help us grow our teacher retention efforts, visit giving.sc.edu/carolinatip.

The next step toward expanding teacher retention efforts The College of Education recently received a $600,000 grant from the S.C. Commission on Higher Education to study the issues surrounding teacher turnover, assess the effectiveness of teacher recruitment and retention programs across the state and develop a longitudinal data system so this information can be shared statewide. The grant will fund the creation of a new center at USC called the South Carolina Teacher Education Advancement Consortium through Higher Education Research (SC-TEACHER). “South Carolina lacks a detailed account of the efforts to recruit, prepare and retain our teaching workforce,” says Thomas Hodges, associate dean for academic affairs. “SC-TEACHER will bring together these efforts in a way that will highlight promising approaches and in turn, provide policy-makers rich data from which decisions can be made.” In addition to studying the various causes of the state’s teacher shortage, researchers within SC-TEACHER will explore teacher preparation programs and practices — including extended student-teaching, residency programs and ongoing professional development — to see what is the most effect way to prepare new teachers, support current teachers and improve the profession. “CarolinaTIP is just the first step toward supporting new teachers and keeping devoted teachers in the profession,” Hodges says. “We are committed to improving our process for recruiting and retaining teachers, and we will continue to advocate on behalf of the profession. This grant will allow us to share critical suggestions for improvement with policy makers so that we can all work together to improve education in our state.”

10 / COLLE GE O F E D UC ATI ON


CLEARING A PATH Dual-school initiative makes it easier for students to become teachers in S.C.

When Ybeth Castro graduated from Georgetown High School three years ago, she knew she wanted to become a teacher. She participated in South Carolina’s statewide Teacher Cadet program, which encourages academically talented high school students to choose teaching as a career. As a cadet in a third-grade classroom, Castro discovered her passion for teaching. However, Castro wasn’t quite ready to move away from home to attend college. “To stay close to home and save money, I chose to attend a technical college in Georgetown,” Castro says. “But, it didn’t take long before I changed my mind.” After one semester of college in Georgetown, Castro moved to Columbia and set her sights on attending the University of South Carolina. “I wanted to get my grades up before applying to USC. Also, I knew going to another technical college would be easier — moneywise — for our family,” she says. As a step toward her ultimate goal, Castro enrolled in the early care and education program at Midlands Technical College, planning to eventually transfer to a bachelor’s program in teaching at USC.

In May, she earned an associate degree from MTC and applied and was accepted to Carolina. While the process was uncomplicated, it lacked a clear path for Castro to follow. A new agreement between the university’s College of Education and MTC is changing all that. MTC students who follow Castro’s lead will now have a seamless transfer path into bachelor’s degree programs in early childhood, elementary or middle-level education at Carolina. “Given the critical teacher shortage in South Carolina, this initiative is particularly important and timely,” University of South Carolina Provost Joan Gabel says. “It’s another example of how institutions are working together to meet the needs of the state and improve the quality of life for South Carolinians.” The agreement outlines specific MTC courses accepted by the university, allowing a student to earn an associate degree and then transfer to the university to complete a bachelor’s degree in education with ease. Also, College of Education advisers will visit MTC each semester to discuss the program and transfer process with students. “We understand that students are looking

for high-quality, cost-effective and flexible education opportunities,” says Jon Pedersen, dean of the College of Education. “This agreement will allow students to learn from experienced faculty, work alongside veteran educators in public schools during their student teaching and earn teacher certification. It’s a win-win for our students.” On average, 50 students transfer from MTC to the College of Education each year, but leaders of both institutions expect to see that number increase as a result of the agreement. “Historically, Midlands Technical College has been the No. 1 choice for students planning to transfer to the University of South Carolina,” says MTC President Ronald L. Rhames. “This agreement adds another layer to that important transfer relationship.” Although Castro didn’t benefit from the agreement, she is glad to see more pathways for students interested in the teaching profession. “This will be a huge help for future education students,” Castro says. “I’m so glad to see USC and Midlands Tech working together to help students become teachers.”

U NI V E RS I T Y O F S O U T H C A R O LIN A

/ 11


Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RESEARCH

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RESEARCH

Beyond theory SOLVING PROBLEMS AND ENRICHING LIVES THROUGH RESEARCH

When education research is carried out with purpose, it goes beyond mere theory and statistics. It’s hands-on work that translates data into best practices for teachers, counselors, school superintendents and other education leaders. “As an R1 institution, our focus is on research and teaching and translating that into practice,” says College of Education dean Jon Pedersen. “Our research informs our practices, which impacts what students do in their classrooms.” That means partnering with public schools, particularly Carolina’s network of 18 K-12 schools where faculty members are embedded. The partnership allows faculty members to have a direct connection to the schools and better address their needs. It means teaching educational methods classes to USC students in public schools around the Midlands, not just in campus classrooms. It also means a breadth of research topics, from improving educational equity to increasing physical activity in elementary schools. “We have a passion and a commitment for addressing social justice, equity and poverty. That’s a theme that cuts cleanly and clearly through our college and all the work we do, whether it’s teaching, service or research,” Pedersen says

Solving for X: variables of learning success in algebra At its core, Rhonda Jeffries’ research looks at ways to improve education for marginalized people. That means infusing social justice into the curriculum as she looks out for students who are in danger of being left behind. After receiving a grant about 10 years ago to look at math instruction, Jeffries became interested in understanding how students are tracked. Working with one of her graduate students, she began researching how to close the achievement gap for racial minority and low-income students, specifically those tracked for remedial classes. She wanted to make sure incoming high school students who were behind in math were able to catch up to their classmates and increase their opportunity to be college ready. The algebra project was born. Knowing that students who do not take Algebra I by ninth grade fall too far behind to make attending a four-year college likely, Jeffries’ idea was to teach Algebra I to all students entering high school, even if they had not taken pre-algebra in middle school. As part of the project, a Richland County high school teacher taught the lowest performing students Algebra I, and 90 percent of them passed the end-of-course exam.

12 / CO L LE GE O F E D UC ATI ON

“It became clear to us that just because students hadn’t been formally prepared, it wasn’t too late for them to catch up,” she says. The next step was working with school administration and teachers to expand the program for the entire ninth grade. That involved preteaching some students in an algebra seminar prior to regular class time, preparing them for what they would learn that day before they stepped into the classroom. “When you try to tutor students after the lesson was unsuccessful, it’s hard to get past the part where they’re humiliated and made to feel incapable,” Jeffries says. “Pre-teaching in seminars cancels that out. Our previously struggling students entered class ready to engage, and often they were out-performing students who were on-track for algebra.” The first year, the test scores were impressive, even with the algebra seminar students included in the data set. By the second year, the high school out-performed every other school in the district. Some of the students were so inspired they asked for placement in honorslevel geometry. “How do students go from the lowest level to the honors level? It tells us that there’s no reason to throw kids away because of past performance,” she says.


Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RESEARCH

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RESEARCH

Hop, skip and jump A longitudinal approach to studying inequity Catherine Compton-Lilly didn’t set out to conduct long-term research studies of student achievement. She was an elementary school teacher and graduate student in Upstate New York, concerned about some of the students in her inner-city school and working on her dissertation. She found herself staying late at school many afternoons, frustrated as she tried to figure out why some of her students struggled to read and write. She knew something wasn’t working, and her dissertation turned into a larger, long-term study that tried to put the puzzle pieces together. That study turned into a career for Compton-Lilly as a teacher and researcher, doing longitudinal studies that follow groups of children through elementary, middle and high school. She has published four books describing her experiences in a high-poverty community, following eight of her former first-grade students through high school. She now is in her ninth year of following students of immigrant families in the Midwest. “The thing that drives me is working to identify the kids that are underserved — the kids who aren’t getting out of schooling what they should be able to get,” she says. Now the John C. Hungerpiller Professor in the College of Education, Compton-Lilly continues her research on inequity in schools and with immigrant families. “Inequity in our society is a cumulating process that occurs with many small challenges that kids face. Racism plays a part in it. Poverty plays a part in it. Underfunded schools play a part in it. And health services play a part in it,” she says. “All of these things help to explain inequity. Inequity is a long-term process that eats away at children’s souls and a family’s very fabric.” Compton-Lilly’s work involves thinking about ways schools can be structured so that teachers and administrators are more aware of students’ experiences and a stronger network of support can be fostered. “We’re always thinking about short-term outcomes — the next test scores, the next year’s growth,” she says. “We need to break away from that mindset and start thinking about kids as learners and thinkers and people with histories and visions of their own futures. Then we can start to redefine education as something that’s not just about meeting a set of standards or passing a set of tests, but as more about who children want to become. Then we can open opportunities for them and help them be more engaged.”

Watching a child with visual impairments confidently run or hop on one foot is more than rewarding for Ali Brian, a physical education researcher. “It brings tears to your eyes,” she says. Brian helps young children and adolescents with and without disabilities improve their gross motor skills — their ability to run, jump, hop, throw, catch and bounce a ball. The common belief that kids naturally acquire those motor skills is more myth than fact, according to Brian’s research. Two of her recent publications show that almost 80 percent of the preschool children tested — whether in Ohio, Louisiana or South Carolina — are exhibiting developmental delays with these skills. But after six weeks of twice weekly motor skills interventions guided by a specialist, only 5 percent of the same children showed delays. “Nobody knows for sure why they are delayed, but it’s my hypothesis they’re not receiving any structured movement program in preschool with a specialist,” Brian says. “They only receive recess.” There typically aren’t physical education teachers in preschools, and classroom teachers often don’t know the best ways to teach children gross motor skills. “The end game not only is to teach the teachers, but to help them conduct a motor skills intervention with me at their side,” Brian says. While her early work focused on Head Start and rural Title One preschools, she now also looks at children with and without disabilities, particularly students who are blind or visually impaired. Children with visual impairments are more likely to be sedentary, overweight or obese than their peers. Brian works with Camp Abilities, a sports camp for blind and visually impaired children, the S.C. School for the Deaf and the Blind and parents of visually impaired children. She provides a talking pedometer and a guide wire for running, and she suggests family activities that focus on motor skills. Although students with visual impairments are further behind at the start, they moved from the fifth percentile to around the 30th percentile after a six-week intervention. “To see the change, it’s powerful,” Brian says. “You think, ‘I can make a difference in their lives.’”


Addressing the Teacher Shortage

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

CAREER SUPPORT

CAREER SUPPORT

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

ADVOCACY

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

ADVOCACY

iLEAD

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RESEARCH

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RESEARCH

U

niversity of South Carolina’s College of Education is the first in the Southeast to integrate improvement science approaches into advanced degree coursework. Improvement science is user-centered and problem-centered approached to improving teaching and learning — it's a method used to accelerate how a profession learns to improve itself. “Within schools, it’s imperative to have a system in place that helps you identify obstacles and then offers the necessary knowhow to make a reform plan spread faster and more effectively,” says Thomas Hodges, associate dean of academic affairs. The college is taking part in a new Carnegie Foundation for

Throughout the year, iLEAD participants, representing 11 universities and public-school partners, engaged in face-toface and online meetings to achieve the following goals. Build capacities for using improvement science in master’s and doctoral programs. Integrate and enhance coursework. Collaborate with other universities and the Carnegie Foundation. Strengthen relations with local school districts. Contribute to and draw from a “Teaching Commons” resource-bank of stellar courses and instructional resources.

14 / COL LE GE O F E D UC ATI ON

The Science of Education

the Advancement of Teaching initiative aimed at improving teacher preparation programs while addressing the needs of atrisk schools. The iLEAD (Improvement Leadership Education and Development) initiative enhances the efforts of schools of education to incorporate improvement science into their doctoral programs. iLEAD helps universities and their local school partners enact systematic improvement efforts. The college is partnering with the Center for Teaching Quality and Florence School District One to focus on school reform, particularly in rural, high-needs districts. “Florence School District One has many unique challenges that face many rural districts,” says Kelvin Wymbs, Florence School District One assistant superintendent. “The teacher shortage hampers our efforts to hire quality teachers in our schools. The persistent poverty forces us to not make excuses as we continually search for ways to improve the quality of life for our stakeholders.” “Engagement with this project will propel our teacher and leadership preparation programs forward, while addressing the local needs of schools and districts in South Carolina,” Hodges says. “This project continues our rich history of designing and delivering academic programs in partnership with P-12 schools, ensuring that we develop leaders equipped to address the needs of children, families and communities."


Addressing the Teacher Shortage

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

ADVOCACY

ADVOCACY

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

RESEARCH

RESEARCH

Bridging a cultural divide Raised by a Cuban father and Colombian mother in Boston, education professor Julia López-Robertson knows the challenges of being part of an under-represented population in the United States. With personal experience in her back pocket, Lopez-Robertson partnered with Horrell Hill Elementary School in Hopkins, South Carolina, to create a program that would help Hispanic parents feel welcome at the school. Among other efforts, the school hosted a language swap where English-speaking families learned a few sentences of Spanish and vice versa. “We made salsa and shared recipes. We wanted the Latino families to feel comfortable, valued and included,” López-Robertson says. And slowly, the families began to trust López-Robertson and became more involved. “My goal is to help Latino children and families, as well as their teachers, understand that cultural strengths can actually increase a child's academic success,” she says. “I encourage them to embrace both languages and use this skill to their advantage as they seek higher education and employment.”

October 26, 2018 5 - 7 p.m.

You are invited to join us for our annual College of Education Homecoming celebration! Mingle with alumni, faculty and friends of the college while helping us honor this year’s Alumni Award recipients. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and toast to our college’s success on the Wardlaw courtyard. RSVP by October 17 online at:

bit.ly/COEHomecoming

U NI V E RS I T Y O F S O U T H C A R O LIN A

/ 15


Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Permit #766 Columbia, SC

Columbia, SC 29208

TO GO FAR, GO TOGETHER We can overcome the teacher shortage crisis, but it will take all of us — teachers, school administrators, universities, lawmakers, parents and students — to make a difference. See how you can do your part and get involved.

SC.EDU/EDUCATION

USC College of Education 2018  

Publication of the University of South Carolina College of Education 2018

USC College of Education 2018  

Publication of the University of South Carolina College of Education 2018

Advertisement