Experiences Working With Diverse Students in P-12 Schools
Over the past several years, the unit has worked to ensure that every candidate has a clinical or field experience in a diverse setting within their program. Because the Office of Clinical Experiences establishes nearly 1000 placements in the schools each semester, it became clear that a comprehensive database would be needed to track candidate placements to ensure a diverse placement. The first step in that process was to develop a set of criteria to evaluate the diversity of each school within a district based on data from the Minnesota Department of Education. In 2006, a committee worked to establish those criteria and presented the criteria to the unit in 2007 for consideration. The committee decided that the criteria would be updated every three years; therefore, an update will be conducted in fall 2009 and diversity ratings will be adjusted.
- Free and reduced lunch population (above or = to 40%) (MN State average is 31%; 40% is the requirement for schools/districts to qualify for additional federal grants)
- Ethnicity (below or = to 79% white)
- Limited English Proficiency (above or = to 7%)
- Students with special needs (above or = to 13%)
Based on data, each school was given a rating of highly diverse (3), diverse (2), or not diverse (1):
3 Highly Diverse Placement: the population of students is above or equal to the state average in two or more in the above defined areas.
2 Diverse Placement: the population of students is above or equal to the state average in one of the defined areas.
1 Not Diverse: all other placements fall into this third category
These data were then entered into the database and provide ongoing information for placements of candidates for both clinical and field experiences. Because of the tracking system, the unit is able to provide a diverse placement for all candidates during their program of study. A summary of the diversity of placements, as well as data on the diversity of schools, has been developed and provides comparative data over the past three years.
The diversity proficiencies have been aligned to courses and field and clinical experiences within all programs to ensure that candidates have ample opportunity to develop and practice knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to diversity. Data collected on diversity of placements and candidate proficiencies provide evidence of this fact and are disseminated as outlined by the Key Assessments and Dissemination Matrix. Unit faculty members discuss findings and report any changes or modifications based on the reported data by using the Assessment Data Feedback Form. Candidates have opportunities for reflection on their diversity proficiencies through formal structures established within programs. Examples include performance-based evaluation forms, exit conferences with cooperating teachers and university supervisors, discussions during student teaching seminars, portfolio development, and course activities.
Summary: The unit has worked diligently to ensure that all candidates have a field or clinical experience in a diverse setting to ensure that they are prepared to work with all students. Considerable resources have been dedicated to the design of a database to track candidate placements to ensure a diverse placement. Data from key assessments indicate that candidates do indeed have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to diversity and are able to apply these skills in the clinical and field settings. Feedback from cooperating teachers and university supervisors provide important reflection opportunities for professional growth and development for candidates.