School of Education - Accreditation Self-Study Report

Standard 4: Continuous Improvement

St. Cloud State University has engaged in purposeful activities to enhance the diversity of students attending this campus and faculty teaching here. We have focused on globalization at the institutional level as well as in the School of Education.

  • The School of Education’s Global Education Committee has worked to keep global opportunities and perspectives in the forefront.
    • Vision: The aim of the School of Education’s Global Education Committee is to cultivate an environment in which students, faculty, and staff are able to attain the international perspectives  and global competencies (coping, resiliency, resolving conflict, critical thinking, self-awareness, sensitivity, valuing multiple perspectives, being comfortable with ambiguity) needed for success in teaching, leading, service, and research.
  • Mission: The Global Education Committee provides a forum for dialogue, preparation for international understanding and global competencies, and a portal for disseminating the knowledge, research, and activities of the School of Education community.

Through a survey conducted in 2012, the Global Education committee determined that while a number of faculty engaged in international partnerships and research, there was a significant lack of dissemination with and between colleagues. To remedy this, the committee began sponsoring an international potluck each semester, which would feature global cuisine (prepared and provided by faculty and staff) and brief faculty presentations describing personal or professional international experiences. These potlucks aid in building a sense of community and disseminating scholarly work. In addition, the global education committee plans activities and events for International Education week, including a number of informative presentations by visiting scholars, students and/or faculty, and webinars focusing on global education.

  • The Teacher Preparation Initiative team focused on Recruiting, Retaining, Graduating and Supporting Teachers of Color with Diverse Cultural Backgrounds has suggested that the recruitment of teachers of color should be a top priority for the unit. The proposal developed by this committee weaves together the need to reallocate specific resources for recruiting and retaining underrepresented teacher candidates, further exploring and developing alternative delivery systems, and the establishment of personal relationships between representatives of SCSU and communities of color in central Minnesota (Exhibit 4.4.h.1). The work of this committee will continue in Fall 2014 with the development of an implementation plan.
  • As the period for edTPA adoption unfolded in the education unit, several faculty members expressed concern about equity issues associated with the instrument.  While no assumptions were made about ethnic and racial disparities associated with the edTPA scores, we, as a unit, felt compelled to call for a conversation about this equity issue. Members of the assessment team gathered information about the performance of the edTPA in terms of (a) differential performance by groups of educators, and (b) reliability and validity issues and disseminated the findings (Exhibit 4.4.j.4). Following dissemination, a 1.5 hour unit-wide discussion was held on December 2, 2013, that was attended by approximately 30 faculty members, and included a preliminary presentation to foster discussion (Exhibit 4.4.j.5). A summary of the meeting was recorded by a representative of the assessment and accreditation committee (Exhibit 4.4.j.6). As a result of the rich and passionate conversation, members of the assessment committee delivered a draft of suggested language to the dean, for letters to our state organization (Minnesota Association for Colleges of Teacher Education, or MACTE) (Exhibit 4.4.j.7)  and to the Minnesota Board of Teaching (Exhibit 4.4.j.8).
  • The Greater St. Cloud Area Thrive Initiative is funded by the Initiative Foundation and co-founded by our Child and Family Studies Department and the Sauk Rapids-Rice Early Childhood programs. Thrive is a collaboration of organizations and community groups who are focused on improving early childhood mental health, healthy child development and family-focused service delivery systems. Included in this effort was the embedding of early childhood mental health research, theory and practice into coursework at SCSU, and developing an infant mental health special collection in the SCSU Curriculum and Technology Center. The Thrive initiative recently sponsored a training program for students in CFS 633, pertaining to home visiting for immigrant families, led by professionals who emigrated from African and Latin American countries.

Thrive has also done extensive work reaching out to our immigrant community. As part of a diversity initiative, the Greater St. Cloud Area Leadership Team conducted a cultural forum with the St. Cloud Area Somali Women’s Association. As a result, a grant was written to and awarded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation which focused on supporting the four immigrant/refugee groups who had the most representation in the St. Cloud Area school district:  Somali, Sudanese, Vietnamese and Latino/a. Goals of the grant include: increasing the number of diverse licensed early childhood professionals, expanding access and cultural sensitivity in early intervention and expanding intercultural sensitivity and competence of interpreters in the early childhood field (Exhibit 4.4.j.9).

  • The St. Cloud State University School of Education and Temple University have collaborated to develop an initiative funded jointly by the United States Department of Education (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and the Brazilian Ministry of Education’s Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES). St. Cloud State received three scholarships for students to travel to Salvador, Brazil, with a special education faculty member, joining a similar group from Temple University. The primary goal of this project is to promote international awareness and understanding of the significant contributions people with disabilities make to work environments. Students participating in this program engage in multi-cultural activities to gain knowledge and awareness about the social consideration and technological solutions that raise employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • St. Cloud State recently created a Confucius Institute, made possible through a partnership with the Jilin Province Department of Education in Changchun, China, in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Education and the Ministry of Education in China. Our Confucius Institute is located in the School of Education and will focus on building cross-cultural understanding and partnerships in the community and supporting the Chinese immersion/second language programs in the region. Seven full Chinese immersion programs are in existence in the state of Minnesota, the oldest being the Yinghua Academy in Minneapolis. Additional programs are located in Minnetonka (2 sites), Forest Lake, St. Cloud, St. Paul and Hopkins (Exhibit 4.4.j.10).
  • The current academic exchange program with Gyeongin National University of Education (GINUE) in South Korea has been a success in terms of special educators. The program is now in the planning phase of expanding to include STEM educators from both nations.
  • One of the recent findings from our Exit Survey is that SCSU candidates lack confidence in their ability to create lessons and meet the academic needs of diverse student groups, including, but not limited to gifted and talented, English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and those with mental health needs. This will be reviewed further during the 2014-2015 academic year as we search for meaningful ways to better develop these skills in our candidates.
  • The Center for Access and Opportunity is a collaborative effort between SCSU, the St. Cloud Technical and Community College and the St. Cloud school district. This program addresses academic underachievement, high school graduation rates and college participation for underrepresented students. The project includes academic advising, teacher consultants and academic support and enrichment services. The project has been very successful to date, and has worked in close collaboration with the School of Education.
  • Every year, St. Cloud State hosts a Power in Diversity Leadership Conference for students of color and other underrepresented students from across the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. This conference offers opportunities for personal growth and leadership development through keynote addresses, networking opportunities and a variety of breakout sessions.

Also at the Institutional level, the Multicultural Student Services Office provides academic support, advising and multicultural programming to students from all programs on our campus. This office works with student organizations to plan a variety of social and co-curricular programs. All students are welcome to participate and have a wide variety of student organizations to choose from, including the All Tribes Council, African Student Association, Asian Students in Action, Council of African American Students, Hmong Student Organization, Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán, Somali Student Association, the Organization for Prevention of AIDS in Africa, Today’s Women, and the Vietnamese Student Organization.