standard 4: DIVERSITY
The unit designs, implements, and evaluates curriculum and provides experiences for candidates to acquire and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary to help all students learn. Assessments indicate that candidates can demonstrate and apply proficiencies related to diversity. Experiences provided for candidates include working with diverse populations, including higher education and P–12 school faculty, candidates, and students in P–12 schools.
4.1.a Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Curriculum and Experiences
Summarize the design, implementation, and evaluation of curriculum and experiences; descriptions of and processes for development of diversity proficiencies; and the outcomes based on key assessments.
Diversity is an explicit part of the vision and mission statements of our institution, our programs of study and our syllabi. English language learners and students with exceptionalities are primary areas of attention at our institution. UTB is a Hispanic Serving Institution, a mission that influences our programs and will continue to do so, as we learn to even better serve our diverse community. In 2010, UTB conducted an extensive investigation of diversity within the first year of college as part of the Foundations of Excellence Report, a project with the Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. Based on numerous surveys, interviews and focus groups, the report finds a strong foundation for diversity within curricular and extra-curricular activities. For report details, see Foundations of Excellence Report. The university’s general-education core curriculum requires a selection of courses that are designed to expose first-year university students to diverse subjects, people and ideas. For details, see Gen. Ed, Core.
Diversity is apparent across the course catalog of professional education courses at initial and advanced levels. It infuses faculty and doctoral student research. Our conceptual framework is based in four core guiding principles of interculturalism, interrelatedness, inquiry and pedagogical leadership. Diversity in teaching and learning is promoted through each principle. A key unit aim is to help our linguistically and culturally diverse students develop into teachers, leaders and other educational professionals who can apply their knowledge and skills related to diversity to help all students learn. Throughout coursework, candidates demonstrate their ability to respond to diverse populations. Undergraduate and graduate courses include capstone courses, internships and practicums working with diverse populations. These diverse populations include refugee, immigrant, bilingual, special military populations and low socioeconomic families in colonias. In education coursework, faculty consistently emphasize the need to be cognizant of diverse backgrounds and cultures different from the candidates’ own.
Diversity within curriculum was assessed by comparing a) the official descriptions and learning objectives of the courses; b) faculty-submitted official syllabi; and c) faculty-created assignments which promote understanding of diversity (see Table 1, below, and appendix A). We found that diversity is an emphasis within programs at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels, spread across many areas of curriculum. We are generally satisfied with the effectiveness of our diversity curriculum, especially in relation to English learners and students with exceptionalities. In the faculty survey of diversity assignments (although not all courses have been documented; we received surveys from twenty-six professors), we found that candidates complete robust assignments related to multiple aspects of diversity at every level and in almost every program, with one exception. Exhibit 4.3.b. includes a curricular matrix of courses that include a primary focus on the elements of race, gender, sexual orientation, native language, religion, students with exceptionalities, and/or geographic origin.
Findings indicate the teacher-preparation program incorporates required courses covering special education, multicultural education, and bi-literacy and/or English learners. Each program requires a human growth and development course that incorporates the concepts of interculturalism, pedagogy and exceptionalities as well as individual family characteristics. Guided by the conceptual framework for initial and advanced programs, course syllabi include opportunities for candidates to engage in professional opportunities, service-learning and research projects that enhance their understanding of diverse populations. This entails the skills, knowledge and dispositions that help educators recognize the impact of social, cultural, economic and political systems on daily school life, and to capitalize on the potential of school to minimize inequities. All academic programs have integrated learning experiences that provide candidates with opportunities to work with second language learners, special needs, culturally diverse and geographically unique bi-national populations. These practicums, internships and service-learning opportunities provide candidates’ varied opportunities to recognize and support learners’ intellectual, social and personal growth, and support learners with special needs.
Every year, candidates are required to complete a survey before graduation. The candidates’ mentors are also surveyed. Overall, the survey indicates candidates believe they are well prepared to address diversity in the classroom, and their campus mentors (the certified P-12 teachers in charge of classrooms where our candidates are placed) agree. On the surveys, candidates and mentors overwhelmingly gave high ratings in the areas of race and ethnicity, gender, special needs and socioeconomic status. For example, 94.8 percent of candidates know how to work effectively with students of varying socioeconomic status, according to their mentors. The mentors believe 87.9 percent of candidates are well prepared to deal with diverse native languages. This is somewhat higher than candidate self ratings: 73.5 percent of candidates say they are well prepared for diverse native languages. Survey comments suggest that while candidates show proficiency in ESL methods, some critique their own limited proficiency in Spanish.
Written comments from candidates and mentors clearly reinforce the results shown in the tables. Candidates felt competent to deal with the majority of diversity issues, even when situations were more difficult than expected, such as when candidates encountered homeless elementary students. Dozens of candidates and mentors described responsive curriculum for English learners and accommodations or modifications for students with exceptionalities. For English learners and students with exceptionalities, candidates successfully implemented knowledge from course professors as well as from their campus mentors. Concerning sexual orientation and religion, candidates often followed their campus mentors’ examples, possibly because of a lack of classroom preparation in these areas. The breadth of description show how important diversity issues are in our P-12 classrooms. They also show we are already producing candidates with proficiency in working with diverse students. Exhibit 4.3.a provides a thorough summary and analysis of these findings.
There are unique geographic variables of diversity in the region that we serve. The university is located across the border with Mexico and on the Gulf of Mexico. Programs have access to the cultural and social richness of a transnational, intercultural area. Candidates learn about the complex challenges and opportunities of border settings through theory, practice and field experience working with children representing ethnically and linguistically diverse backgrounds. As part of curriculum at all levels and all programs, our education candidates have opportunities to interact with diverse children and families. Furthermore, advanced candidates work professionally in diverse classrooms, and are required to reflect upon their work experiences as part of curriculum throughout their programs.
4.1.b Experiences Working with Diverse Faculty
Summarize opportunities and experiences for candidates to work with diverse faculty; qualifications and expertise of faculty in supporting candidates in their development of expected proficiencies; and the unit’s affirmation of the value and efforts to increase or maintain faculty diversity.
Candidates at all levels have an opportunity to work with diverse faculty within the CoE as well as throughout UTB. Across programs in all education departments, half of the faculty members are people of color. Over the course of their programs, every candidate has the opportunity to work with and learn from diverse faculty—female and male, white and Latino. Additionally, a majority of candidates take classes from Asian American faculty, and from faculty who trained in many different regions of the U.S. Many programs also include significant interaction with faculty from many different countries. The educational technology programs and the bilingual programs, especially, have attracted strong international faculty at the undergraduate and graduate level. Our online and hybrid (online/in-person/video conference) programs include significant interaction with these same faculty. Some courses include off-campus locations, which are either attended by regular faculty or connected to regular faculty via video conference Students at video conference locations in Houston are visited by faculty in person at least once per semester. Students at video conference locations in South Texas are visited by faculty at least twice per semester.
Compared to college-based faculty, our school-based faculty are more likely to be Latino, and more likely to be female. We place counseling candidates, student teachers and other candidates with diverse school-based faculty, who have knowledge and experience with diverse students.
The CoE provides opportunities for professional development and service to the profession. Faculty members attend and present their diversity research at numerous national and international conferences centered on aspects of diversity. These annual conferences include:
· American Educational Research Association (in Division G: Social Context of Education; Special Education Research SIG; and other diversity-oriented areas)
· National Association for Bilingual Education
· National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies
· Council for Exceptional Children
· Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
· Council for Learning Disabilities
· The National Curriculum & Pedagogy Group
· National Latino Psychological Association
· Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association
· National Association of Hispanic and Latino Studies
· Council for Exceptional Children
· International Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies
· American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education
· Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Sciences
· Bi-National Conference on Education (hosted by UTB College of Education)
· American Translation and Interpreting Studies Conference
Unit faculty have served as reviewers and organizers for the first five conferences listed, while the last two conferences listed are organized and hosted annually by UTB faculty. Given the demographics and needs of the South Texas region, a majority of our diversity research is related to ethnicity and English language learners. Further, we have faculty who work regularly with districts to create policy that better serves diverse students. The focused areas of this collaborative work are English learners, students of color and students with exceptionalities. Many of our faculty members have themselves taught in diverse P-12 classrooms.
One group often neglected in discussions of diversity is the low socioeconomic population. The region UTB serves has a large number of “colonias,” unincorporated neighborhoods that often lack basic services. One colonia, Cameron Park, is the poorest census district in the U.S. Some faculty members conduct research in Cameron Park and provide service-learning opportunities for our candidates. One faculty member’s course is held at a tutorial center in this colonia, where candidates interact with children and parents. Faculty CV indicate that poverty is addressed by a growing body of our research. Results from our faculty survey of research on diversity are listed in Exhibit 4.3.d.
Anti-discrimination policies are followed in hiring faculty. This includes stipulations of federal and state equal-opportunity standards, but explicitly extends to cover sexual orientation. A compliance officer monitors the recruitment of diverse faculty, ensuring non-discrimination practices regarding race, gender and sexual orientation. Additionally, UTB operates under its own Affirmative Action Plan, with a rigorous system to monitor diversity in hiring, promotion and termination practices at every level. This includes reporting and follow-up on all applications for all faculty positions. Our Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action policies are disseminated in the Handbook of Operating Procedures.
Potential faculty members are recruited nationally to get the broadest pool of applicants possible through advertising (including full-page ads) in prominent publications like The Chronicle of Higher Education and Educational Researcher. Positions are also distributed through job boards of various professional organizations. We have recruited international scholars from Asia and Europe, such as our dean. Half of our tenure-track faculty identify as people of color, while roughly 60 percent are female. The majority of adjunct, clinical faculty who supervise candidates during their clinical teaching experience identify as people of color. Partially due to the lack of a statistically significant local community, the recruitment of African American faculty has not been successful, though we are exploring other avenues of recruitment.
In Exhibit 4.3.d, data indicate that the Latino population is overrepresented in comparison to national percentages but is close to the demographics of the state. African Americans, Native Americans, and Alaska Natives are not represented in the CoE; these groups are similarly underrepresented in the university and the region as a whole. Nonetheless, this is a clear area for improvement. So we are reviewing recruitment practices across programs regarding African American and Native American applicants for tenure-track positions. School faculty demographics are representative of the region.
Beyond the table, there is linguistic diversity within our faculty: of faculty involved in training the candidates, at least a dozen participate in scholarly activities in Spanish and English, including publications, international conference presentations and/or teaching. Many others are conversationally fluent in Spanish. Geographic diversity is illustrated by the diverse countries of origin of approximately fifteen faculty members from Mexico, Argentina, Spain, China, India, Germany, Turkey or Taiwan. In addition to interacting with local faculty, candidates in our online graduate programs in Educational Technology can take courses with adjunct faculty who live in Dallas/Fort Worth, Laredo and Waco. Adjunct faculty contribute diverse perspectives and daily experiences.
4.1.c Experiences Working with Diverse Candidates
Summarize opportunities and experiences for candidates to work with diverse peers; and the unit’s affirmation of the value and efforts to increase or maintain candidate diversity.
Ethnically, UTB is slightly more diverse than the surrounding community of South Texas and Northeast Mexico. Our university is exceptional among U.S. universities in serving a truly bi-national student body, with many students crossing the border from Matamoros to attend class. UTB is only 230 meters from the Rio Grande. Despite increased violence in the state of Tamaulipas, our two cities remain inextricably linked (see http://borderhealth.cr.usgs.gov/maps/Brn_Mata_census_250000.pdf). Because of this bi-national character, and because of immigration from Mexico and other countries of Latin America, a large percentage of our candidates are native Spanish speakers, and dozens study within either our bilingual education or Spanish programs, which cultivate and require full academic literacy in Spanish. The presence of rigorous undergraduate and graduate programs in two languages and two cultures is a key aspect of diversity at UTB.
Candidates in our unit have opportunities to work with other candidates from diverse backgrounds. While the majority of our teacher candidates identify as Hispanic and Latino, we embrace this as an asset of the programs. Nationwide and statewide, teacher education programs consistently train low numbers of Hispanic and Latino teachers in comparison to the proportion of Hispanic and Latino students. Due to demographic trends, there will be even greater need for teachers who understand the cultural and linguistic background of Hispanic and Latino students. Undergraduate and graduate programs all allow for interaction across ethnic, cultural, linguistic, geographic and socioeconomic lines. Our service area includes Cameron County and Hidalgo County, the two poorest counties in the U.S. (among counties with population above 250,000). It also includes the municipality of Matamoros, in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Matamoros is one of the poorest cities in Mexico. Many of our candidates come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and all have many opportunities to work with candidates of low socioeconomic status. Many are first-generation U.S. citizens, and a majority is first-generation college students.
Our Ed.D. program began as a cooperative effort between the University of Houston and the UTB/TSC campus. This meant our graduate students did coursework both in Houston and here in Brownsville, working with the very different populations of these two campuses. While the doctoral program is now exclusively run by UTB, we have maintained this connection between candidates from different places. Many of our master’s and doctoral candidates take video conference courses connecting groups in Brownsville and Houston. For the first time, our newest Ed.D. cohort includes graduate students from not only South Texas and Houston but also San Antonio. While these candidates interact in person only occasionally, they interact online and via video conference every week, presenting to each other, critiquing each other’s work, etc. Candidates are able to learn from classmates coming from very different educational contexts.
UTB programs attract candidates from the cities and towns of South Texas and Northeast Mexico. A foundation of recruitment within Mexico is Texas’ reciprocal tuition agreement with Mexico. High school graduates with financial need, from Tamaulipas and other states, may cross the border to attend our university and pay in-state tuition rather than international tuition.
The university holds outreach events at local high schools, and buys advertising in print publications, Internet publications, television and billboards. While most of these efforts are currently within Texas, plans are underway to increase publicity within Mexico. Radio and television advertisements are already reaching high school students in Mexico.
Individual faculty members from education and the sciences personally visit and recruit undergrads and graduate students. This is often in the context of specific programs, such as finding candidates for freshman STEM scholarships or for our rapidly growing Doctor of Education program. We offer the only program for initial teacher preparation within sixty miles. This has led to a significant presence of UTB alumni within local school districts, which also serves as an informal recruitment tool.
The Scorpion Ambassador Program recruits outstanding college students to lead outreach to high school students and hosts campus tours in addition to other activities. High-schoolers in Brownsville and Rio Hondo, both majority Hispanic/Latino districts, participate in Classic Upward Bound, which yields results in student performance. Our Early College High School program enrolls high achieving Hispanic/Latino students for college credit while they are still attending local high schools. This creates significant visibility among high school students. The Veterans Center uses federal funding to reach out to members and former members of the armed forces, providing extensive services geared toward recruitment and retention of veterans.
Outreach among migrant students happens through our innovative C.A.M.P. program, which provides full-ride scholarships, tutoring, mentorship, community-building and many other services. This improves the retention and success of migrants and farm workers, who tend to have very low rates of college completion. While none of these specifically recruit education majors, our education programs regularly receive candidates through these programs.
At UTB, the TRIO program provides academic support for low-income candidates, improving their academic success and graduation rates. Our SSSP/Aspire program provides support to low- income as well as first-generation students, and to students with disabilities. Candidates must participate at least once a week, and must participate in cultural events and community service. SSSP/Aspire offers counseling, mentoring, tutoring, workshops, advising, registration assistance and a staffed computer lab from freshman year until a degree is awarded. They also offer grant aid, and assistance in transferring or entering graduate school. Currently, 275 UTB students participate in this program.
Disability Services builds retention of students with exceptionalities by going beyond the mandated services for young people, offering extensive assessment and study assistance for students of all ages with various learning and developmental disabilities. Their activities include orientations for new faculty about supporting special needs students, and open house events that provide information to current and prospective students and their parents.
Student Health Services offers GLBT Counseling, a private space for UTB students to discuss “issues related to acceptance of their sexual orientation by family members and other significant ones.” They also organize gay and lesbian support groups for the campus community. Student Health Services worked with the Dean of Students to provide faculty and staff training in the Safe Space program, which is meant to provide places where students could find someone to listen and provide resources. The previous student organization at UTB, the Gay-Straight Alliance, had a faculty advisor from the CoE. The current student organization is called C.H.A.N.G.E., and is dedicated to “support and advancement for the gay community.”
The CoE and UTB works to cultivate and support student diversity. Unit candidates benefit from these efforts through their participation in multiple opportunities to interact with a diverse group of peers, faculty and community members.
4.1.d Experiences Working with Diverse Students in P-12 Schools
Summarize opportunities and experiences for candidates to work with diverse students in P-12 schools; processes for the development of knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions related to diversity; and outcomes based on key assessments during field experiences and clinical practice.
Teacher candidates have the opportunity to work directly with diverse students in P-12 schools. The majority of field experiences are in the Brownsville school district, a district where 95 percent of students are low-income and identify as Hispanic or Latino. A third of these students are English learners. Field experience begins as soon as teacher candidates begin taking courses in the education major as sophomores. They observe and work at various campuses across South Texas, at grade levels and locations that vary each semester. Student experiences include observation, mentorship under the school district teacher, one-on-one interaction with students, and assisting with classroom tasks. Experience working with P-12 students culminates with student teaching. Teacher candidates have the opportunity to work with male and female students, American-born and immigrant students, migrant and non-migrant students, students with exceptionalities and gifted students, native English speakers and native Spanish speakers. Additionally, some teacher candidates observe or student teach in classrooms with students of various races, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientation. Within our graduate programs are cohorts located within large cities in other parts of Texas who work with significant populations of Asian, African American, and Native American students.
At the undergraduate level, it is common for Hispanic and Latino teacher candidates at UTB to work with some white students, though mostly with Hispanic and Latino students. Yet it is important to note that the general categories of “Hispanic” and “Latino” mask broad diversity. There are many Tejanos, or Mexican Americans born in Texas, and Mexicans, born in Mexico. There are also students from Cuba, Guatemala and elsewhere. Furthermore, there is significant diversity among Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans. Various assignments require candidates to account for and respond to the diversity in these P-12 classrooms. Feedback from field supervisors and evaluations incorporate understandings of diversity. In this way, the CoE ensures that teacher candidates not only have the chance to work with diverse students, but that they actually take advantage of that opportunity. Student teaching is the last component of the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities course sequence. It is structured so that candidates are exposed to diverse ideas, values and cultures as well as to demographic diversity. The candidate is expected to complete a full semester of work, monitored by the mentor teacher and a university supervisor.
The unit has a wide spectrum of locations and types of schools where teacher candidates are placed for field experience and clinical practice. These locations are chosen to provide maximum experience with diversity, especially concerning cultural diversity, socioeconomic status, language proficiency and exceptionalities. Altogether, some undergraduate candidates spend more than 650 hours in the field before earning their degree and certificate. The CoE offers student teaching in the areas of Elementary EC-6 ESL and Bilingual Generalist; Middle Grades 4-8 English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science; Secondary Level 8-12 English Language Arts, Mathematics, History, Social Studies, and Science; all level EC-12 Kinesiology, Music, Spanish, and Special Education. Clinical practice is required in the M.Ed. programs for counseling, educational leadership, early childhood and special education. All candidates encounter students with exceptionalities during at least one of their placements.
The UTB Office of Field Experience and Clinical Practice works in close partnership with thirteen area public school districts and eighteen individual private and charter Schools. Brownsville ISD is the largest district and is where most candidates do most of their field experience. Built in to the clinical practicum is professional disposition towards diversity. Teacher candidates interact for many hours with diverse students in many different classrooms before they begin their student teaching. All candidates complete rigorous field observation, field experience and field-based courses. The three required field-observation courses observe a classroom setting for a minimum of ten hours each. Field experience courses include a minimum of fifteen hours per course in a classroom setting. Candidates engage in activities including observing, tutoring and assessing diverse students. In the three field-based courses,every candidate designs, develops and presents lessons and assessments, teaching large and small groups. Candidates are required to develop and exhibit professional dispositions related to cultural diversity, socioeconomic inclusion, English learners and students with exceptionalities.
Civic mindedness is an integral part of the field observation and field experience. The CoE, HEB grocery stores, and BISD partnered to create the HEB Read 3 Project. This project has created literacy centers for “kinder readiness.” The program’s message to parents and caregivers is to read to young children a minimum of three times a week. Nearly a third of Texas children enter first grade in poverty and without knowledge of English. CoE candidates complete field observation hours in this program, and additionally volunteer their time for the HEB Read 3 Project.
Candidates at the advanced level also interact in a diversity of field and clinical settings. Master’s candidates in counseling perform twenty hours of clinical practice at a school, twenty hours at the university’s Community Counseling Clinic and sixty additional counseling hours. Because the clinic is free and open to the public, counseling candidates work directly with our diverse community. Practicum and internship both assess understanding of “characteristics and concerns between and within diverse groups nationally and internationally” and “strategies for working with diverse populations and ethnic groups.” Candidates perform weekly self-assessments, peer observations and three-way conferences with professors and field supervisors, and keep detailed records of all counseling, including documentation of all aspects of diversity.
The master’s in Educational Leadership culminates with clinical practice in the form of an internship as an assistant principal or curriculum specialist in a school district, charter or private school. This practicum consists of 160 graduate hours in the field. Most candidates are placed in high-poverty schools, and all of the schools include significant numbers of English language learners. The internship includes three-way conferences, reflections and graded assignments similar to those of the student teaching practicum, but with the higher expectations of graduate work. Also similar to the student teaching, candidates are assessed for their capable handling of all students, though especially English language learners, students with exceptionalities and low income students, all within an intercultural framework.
The Masters of Special Education Behavioral Specialist has its own practicum: a two-course sequence focused on Applied Behavioral Analysis. Candidates either volunteer or work in an educational setting or agency that supports students with exceptionalities. Candidates “conduct field-based functional behavior analysis and provide recommendations for interventions” to improve behavioral outcomes. Candidates are required to discuss and assess their own work in light of research.
A rich and rigorous sequence of diverse field experiences in a multiplicity of settings devoted to teaching, leading and learning provide candidates the opportunity to interact with a linguistically diverse, transnational and bi-cultural learning community in culturally meaningful ways that build their capacity to help all students learn.
4.2 Moving Toward Target or Continuous Improvement
4.2.b Continuous Improvement
Discuss plans for sustaining and enhancing performance through continuous improvement as articulated in this standard.
· There is no significant effort to recruit or retain African American, Asian American or Native American candidates. In the past, this has not been considered a priority, perhaps due to the very low numbers of these groups in our region (at some P-12 schools, there are none at all). One outcome of our committee’s work is the recognition that some of our region’s underrepresented groups—specifically, African American, Asian American and Native American students—should not be ignored simply because there are not many of them. An institution’s commitment to diversity means always making an effort to address diversity, especially when it is most difficult. As few as they are in our region and on our campus, these groups need more outreach, recruitment and support, beginning in middle school. We are developing a plan to do this with local districts.
· As we move Standard 3 to target, we aim to deepen partnerships with school partners as well as purposefully diversify the settings in which students participate in field and clinical experiences, by making diversity an explicit criterion for placement.
Although each of our programs that went through SPA review have analyzed data on candidate’s knowledge, skills and proficiencies related to diversity, our unit does not have a set of shared proficiencies. We are currently in the process of identifying these and working with the CoE assessment committee to develop a set of shared assessments related to diversity and intercultural competencies.