College Of Education Continues To Mold The Educators Of Tomorrow
Penn State is home to many award-winning and world-renowned programs, one of which is the College of Education. With 2,282 undergraduates and 989 graduates enrolled plus 108 faculty members, the Penn State College of Education reaches far and wide with approximately 56,000 alumni teaching all over the nation.
The College of Education has received many national accreditations, and all of the college’s professional education certification programs are approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The programs under the College of Education are fully accredited by all pertinent agencies, including NCATE/CAEP, APA, NASP, CORE, and CACREP.
The College focuses on service and outreach and hopes to advance the profession of education through research on the science and art of teaching and learning, the application of clinical processes, the effective uses of technology, and the analysis and development of educational policy. The college’s mantra is to leave graduates with the ability to enhance the educational experiences of all children, ensure high-quality inductions of new teachers into the profession, engage in furthering their own professional growth as teachers and teacher educators of all children, and educate the next generation of teacher educators.
Annemarie Mountz, Director of Communications for the College of Education, leads a team responsible for communicating with both internal and external audiences about the College of Education. “There are a lot of options for students who are looking to major in education, but the College of Education at Penn State stands apart from most other institutions for a number of reasons,” Mountz said.
“One thing that sets the College of Education apart is the breadth of fields we include,” she continued. “The College of Education is known for the quality of teachers it graduates. However, we also have strong programs in education policy studies, educational psychology, counseling, special education, and rehabilitation and human services, to name a few.”
The College of Education and its graduate programs continue to earn high rankings, as shown in the latest national rankings of graduate programs by US News & World Report. Last year, the college as a whole was ranked 36th in the nation among 357 colleges of education. U.S. News Rankings designated Penn State’s College of Education No. 17 for special education, No. 14 for elementary education, No. 14 for secondary education, No. 10 for education policy, No. 7 for educational leadership, No. 16 for educational psychology, No. 7 for higher education administration, No. 7 for student counseling, No. 6 for rehabilitation counseling, and No. 1 for workforce education. All of the College’s graduate programs appear at least in the top 20 of their respective program rankings, with seven programs in the top 10.
In 2014-15, 98 percent of students who graduated in teaching majors were eligible for teacher certification. Of those, 90 percent were certified in the state of Pennsylvania.
Faculty members of the college serve as members of numerous private and government panels, governing boards for state and national organizations, and editorial boards for major journals — one of many criteria for national rankings. These editorial responsibilities held by faculty members contribute to more than 30 major journals in education, including American Journal of Education, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, The Career Development Quarterly, Journal of Research in Rural Education, and the Journal of Teacher Education.
“There is a strong connection between research and practice in our majors,” Mountz said. “Our faculty are at the cutting edge, conducting research that is shaping the way students learn, and how our students learn to teach.”
The College of Education is also home to the award-winning Professional Development School teacher preparation program, with four major national awards in the past 13 years. In 1998, Penn State’s College of Education and the State College Area School District began the Professional Development School (PDS) Partnership that included two elementary schools and secondary English. Sixteen years later, the PDS Partnership has grown to include every elementary school, both middle schools, and English at the high school level. The PDS program has outstanding success rates on the Praxis standardized tests for educators, more than $1.89 million in college and university scholarships awarded annually to undergraduate students, and has awarded 19 Fulbrights in the past seven years.
Teachers who graduate from Penn State and school district administrators who hire them fervently agree that they are very well prepared for their future of shaping the tomorrows of today’s students. Curriculum and instruction graduates from the College of Education are not only finding jobs, they are being recruited by school districts in large cities as well as remote outposts. “Our principals find the caliber of graduates from Penn State programs meet the needs of our students and their communities. I do believe this has to do with the classes and experiences afforded to Penn State graduates,” Kristi Hurd said, the personnel supervisor for the Ashburn Virginia School District, who hired 30 Penn State graduates in 2015.
The newest addition to the College of Education is the Krause Innovation Studio. This new initiative focuses on research and development around innovative technology-supported pedagogy in higher education. The largest gift ever given to the College, $6.5 million from Gay and Bill Krause, allows faculty to draw upon emerging technologies to transform their teaching and scholarship.
“We have renovated several state-of-the-art learning labs for our students,” Mountz said, “including the Krause Innovation Studio.” Regarding technology, College of Education Dean Monk said, “The College challenges itself to keep pace with the ever-changing advances in computing and telecommunications technologies. We’re not committed to technology for its own sake but rather to technologically based enhancements that significantly enrich the teaching and learning process. Creating these new learning spaces helps us achieve that goal.”
Mountz mentioned that the teacher-education programs are very hands-on, and there are multiple opportunities for students to gain experience in classrooms well before their senior year student-teaching experiences. “We offer the Philadelphia Urban Seminar, which students are able to take in the Maymester following their freshman year. We also offer field experiences for students in their sophomore and junior years, all leading up to the student teaching practicum or Professional Development School, a full-year student teaching experience in their senior year,” Mountz said.
The work environment in the College of Education isn’t bad, either. “I have found the College of Education to be an extraordinarily great place to work because of this team environment,” Mountz said. “I cannot come up with the words to adequately express how much I appreciate and value my colleagues in the College of Education.”
As for the future of the College of Education, Mountz hopes it will continue to evolve so graduates can change the world for the better. “We will continue to push the envelope in terms of technology we use to enhance the learning experience,” Mountz said. “We will offer personalized learning, tailored to the needs of our individual students, and we will do this by listening to our students, and to professionals in the field, to ensure we are doing what’s needed to educate those who will in turn shape the future of education.”