Study: UNCP’s Elementary Education program rated among the best in N.C.


First Posted: 4/9/2010

The classroom performance of UNC Pembroke’s Elementary Education graduates is at the very top of the state, according to a report by the Carolina Institute for Public Policy.
Released in January, the comprehensive study linked students’ test scores on the N.C. End-of-Grade (EOG) and End-of-Course (EOC) exams to the teachers who taught the students and to the teachers’ school of licensure. The study analyzed 1.94 million EOG and EOC test scores in elementary, middle and high schools in 143,892 classrooms.
UNCP graduates working in elementary schools had the most significant impact on the test scores of the elementary students in math and the second highest in reading among the 15 UNC schools. They also performed better than teachers trained in other UNC schools.
The survey included 382 graduates of UNCP’s Elementary Education program. The survey also rated UNCP’s science teachers top in the state.
The report, titled “The Impact of Teacher Preparation on Student Learning in North Carolina Public Schools,” is an initiative of UNC to assess and improve public education. The study included teachers completing education programs between December 1994 and May 2005.
Faculty and administrators in the School of Education were pleased with the results.
“The fact that we finished strong in all areas reflects on how thoroughly our graduates are prepared to teach,” said Dr. Karen Stanley, chair of the Department of Professional Education, which includes the Elementary Education program. “Dr. Dickson and her faculty do an outstanding job.”
Dr. Swannee Dickson is coordinator of the Elementary Education program, the School of Education’s largest program with approximately 400 majors.
“It also reflects well on our students,” Dr. Dickson said. “They are hard-workers in class, they participate fully and they care about children.”
Experienced leadership of the program is also a factor. Dr. Dickson has been at UNCP since 1990 and has been coordinator of the program for 14 years.
“When I see our students in the classroom, it’s evident they are well prepared, and Dr. Dickson and the faculty deserve a lot of credit,” said Dr. Stanley, who is completing her 11th year at UNCP.
Among other duties, Dr. Dickson supervises student internships in the schools.
“It’s good to see our students in the classroom,” she said. “They are confident and doing developmentally appropriate instruction.
“It all begins with caring about children,” Dr. Dickson said.
Dr. Leah Fiorentino, dean of the School of Education, said the report reinforced the excellent teacher preparation she has witnessed at UNCP.
“UNCP has an outstanding reputation for providing quality teachers in the region,” Dean Fiorentino said. “The local school superintendents are always pleased with the performance of the UNCP graduates when they enter the elementary schools.
“Our faculty and staff provide wonderful support for the students and the relationships which are established serve as a critical component of the positive impact our graduates are having on the children in the elementary schools,” she said.
The School of Education did not know about the study beforehand, but they were warned, Dr. Stanley said.
“Several years ago, we were told that soon the UNC system would track our graduates’ performance back to the school from which they graduated,” she said.
That day arrived, and as Dr. Dickson said, “you have to have assessment if you want to know how your students are performing.”
The study notes that test scores are “one important indicators of the quality teacher preparation program.”
The study compared UNC trained teachers and teachers trained elsewhere. Some of the other variables included teacher experience,
class size, class diversity, teachers training: master’s degrees, National Board Certification, lateral entry and out-of-field teaching.
For more information about teacher education programs at UNCP, please contact the School of Education at (910) 521-6539 or email
[email protected]

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