Outlook

Education partnerships

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Co-teaching a best practice

More than 25,000 Central Minnesota students in 17 schools have been touched by an innovative co-teaching model developed by the St. Cloud State College of Education. Now in its fifth year, the program has received the Best Practice Award in Support of Teacher Education Quality and Accountability from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

The co-teaching program pairs classroom teachers with St. Cloud State teacher candidates to collaboratively plan, organize, deliver and assess instruction in the classroom. “The needs of today’s children are so great,” professor and program director Nancy Bacharach has said, “that it doesn’t make sense to have either the classroom teacher or the teacher candidate sitting in the background when both can be helping children.”

Research indicates that the co-teaching model has a statistically significant positive effect on reading and math scores along with significant decreases in unexcused absences and classroom disruptions.

Students teaching in China, Africa

Seniors Raunn Finley, of San Antonio, Texas, and Elizabeth Loch, Big Lake, who are majoring in special education, are student teaching this spring on the other side of the world. The two are spending March and April at Shanghai Special Education Consulting School in Shanghai, working with students in grades K-6.

The program is one of several clinical experiences developed by the St. Cloud State College of Education as a cost-effective way to prepare students to teach young people in a global world.

As the result of similar partnerships, elementary and secondary education majors will be able to teach in Beijing, China; child and family studies majors will be able to teach in a bilingual early childhood program in Xi’an, China; and all education majors will be able to student teach in South Africa.

Bridge-building

Volunteer Connection at St. Cloud State, in partnership with St. Cloud school district, will be building bridges thanks to a $20,000 grant awarded by the state-funded Post-Secondary Service-Learning and Campus-Community Collaboration Grant Program.

“Building Bridges: Campus-Community Connections” will facilitate service-learning partnerships between the University and St. Cloud school district. Initiatives may include St. Cloud State students serving as reading tutors and mentors for students, helping staff coordinate an employment skills seminar for English language learners in grades 10-12, and serving as co-educators in new kindergarten Spanish and Chinese immersion programs. An additional outcome will be fostering college aspirations among local students.

Providing access, opportunity

St. Cloud State will create one of three Minnesota centers dedicated to improving high school graduation and college participation rates among students of color and other underrepresented groups after winning a competitive grant from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

The University will receive $2.2 million over two years for a center designed to improve high school graduation rates among underrepresented students in grades 8-12 in the St. Cloud school district. St. Cloud State also will partner with St. Cloud Technical College to help students assess their academic skills and plan educational paths to careers.

Historically, underrepresented students have had significantly lower high school graduation rates than white and Asian students. In 2006, for example, high school graduation rates for Minnesota’s American Indian, black and Hispanic students were 19-29 percentage points lower than for whites and Asians, according to the Minnesota State Department of Education. The underrepresented groups also have significantly lower rates of college participation.

The initiative augments existing St. Cloud State programs that have led to seven years of steady growth in the number of students of color at the University, where they represent 7.6 percent of the student body.

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