General Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that teacher preparation programs provide teacher candidates with a high quality clinical experience. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
Cooperating Teacher Requirements:
South Carolina requires that cooperating teachers have preparation in both the supervision of education and in the teaching area of the candidate and are Assisting, Developing, and Evaluating Professional Teachers (ADEPT)-trained by attending, at minimum, an ADEPT seminar. All educators attending the ADEPT seminar must "have at least three years of successful teaching experience in a preK-12 setting or at an institution of higher education" and "be recommended for the seminar by a school district administrator or a faculty member at an [Institution of Higher Education]."
Clinical Practice Duration: South Carolina requires candidates to complete a minimum of 12 weeks or 60 full days of student teaching in a public school in the state of South Carolina. Candidates must also teach independently a minimum of 10 full days in one placement or setting.
Clinical Practice Assignment: South Carolina specifies that the "teaching experience must be in the area of preparation and in the area in which the applicant is applying for certification." However, the state does not specify that clinical practice experience for the multi-categorical special education PreK-12 license occur should at multiple grade levels.
Standards, Policies, and Procedures for South Carolina Educator Preparation Units http://ed.sc.gov/educators/educator-preparation/educator-preparation-units/accreditation/policies-and-regulations/standards-policies-and-procedures-for-south-carolina-educator-preparation-units/ ADEPT System Guidelines https://www.ed.sc.gov/agency/programs-services/50/documents/adept_guidelines.pdf South Carolina Code of State Regulations 43-51
Ensure that cooperating teachers have demonstrated evidence of effectiveness as measured by student learning.
Cooperating teachers in South Carolina should be carefully screened for their ability to further student achievement. Research indicates that student teachers benefit most when cooperating teachers are selected by the preparation program rather than by the student teacher or school district staff.
Use evidence from the state's teacher evaluation system to select cooperating teachers.
While cooperating teachers must have at least three years of "successful teaching experience," South Carolina does not explicitly state that this criterion is tied to a teacher's performance evaluation. South Carolina requires consideration of some objective measures of student growth in its teacher evaluation system. The state should therefore require that evaluation results, which provide evidence of effectiveness in the classroom, be used to select effective cooperating teachers.
Require clinical practice experience in at least two different developmental grade levels for licenses with overly broad grade spans.
Given the broad range of students included under South Carolina PreK-12 special education license, it is important that the state's clinical practice requirements include experience in multiple grade levels. It is especially critical for special education teacher candidates to gain experience with a variety of students with disabilities across the spectrum and in multiple grade levels.
South Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also noted that in partnership with the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP), it is developing updated guidelines for South Carolina's educator preparation programs These draft guidelines have been posted for public comment and are slated for additional development, review, and approval by the State Board of Education in the fall of 2017.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.
1E: Student Teaching
The stakes are too high for student teaching requirements to be left to chance. Student teaching is the final clinical experience of teacher preparation, and teacher candidates have only one chance to experience the best possible placement. Student teaching will shape their own performance as teachers and help determine the type of school in which they will choose to teach. A mediocre student teaching experience, let alone a disastrous one, can never be undone.
Central to the quality of the student teaching experience is the classroom teacher who serves as the teacher candidate's mentor, or cooperating teacher. Only strong teachers with evidence of their effectiveness, as assessed by objective measures of student learning and by their principals, should be able to serve as cooperating teachers. Yet placement is much more likely to be the luck of the draw. Reports by NCTQ, including Student Teaching in the United States and the Teacher Prep Review,
found most teacher preparation programs fail to require that cooperating teachers must be effective instructors.