Clinical partners co-construct mutually beneficial P-12 school and community arrangements, including technology-based collaborations in six different ways:
1) All clinical collaborations are governed by the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) through dispositions in Law 129 of 2016 (2.1.1) and Policy Letter 2-2012-2013 (2.1.2) which regulate the operation of Educational Practice Experience Centers (EPEC) in Puerto Rico.
2) PRDE through the Educational Clinical Experience Program invites the Teacher Preparation Program (TPP) Directors or Clinical Experience Coordinators of each higher education institution to monthly meetings to discuss matters related to clinical experience for decision making and agreements (2.1.3).
3) Candidate placements and selection of cooperating teachers (CT) for each EPEC are discussed every semester (2.2.1).
4) Official placement letters are sent to School Directors and CT at the EPEC where candidates will carry out their clinical practice (2.2.3 & 2.2.3a).
5) Technology based collaboration: the CT Certification Course for new highly qualified CT has been offered online two times (http://uprm.edu/p/eppcaep/cooperating_teacher_course); the course syllabus was prepared by TPP Directors and Clinical Experience Coordinators (http://uprm.edu/cms/index.php?a=file&fid=14042).
6) Superintendents, TPP Directors, CT and Clinical Experience Supervisors (CES) met at UPRM to evaluate the Observation Rubrics and the TPP Conceptual Framework (CF) (2.2.4).
Clinical partners share responsibility for continuous improvement of candidate preparation by choosing the best highly qualified CT at the practice centers and the best faculty and CES in the TPP (2.3.1 & 2.3.2). Mutually agreeable expectations for candidate entry, preparation and exit are established in the PRDE Regulations for Teacher Certification 2012 http://uprm.edu/p/eppcaep/prde_regulations_for_teacher_certifications. To ensure theory and practice are linked, maintain coherence across clinical and academic components of preparation, candidates must follow the Transition Points in the 2016-2017 UPRM Undergraduate Catalog (2.2.2) which establish candidate qualifications, course sequences and grade point averages required for certification.
Clinical experience entry, progression and completion requirements are published and explained in the CF (http://uprm.edu/p/eppcaep/uprm_tpp_conceptual_frame) and in TPP brochures (see http://uprm.edu/p/eppcaep/brochures_ppm). Accountability for retaining CT and CES are demonstrated through several instruments (http://uprm.edu/p/eppcaep/ppmes_evaluation) which are continuously assessed and updated. TPP uses results of multiple indicators and appropriate technology-based applications to establish, maintain, and refine criteria for selection, performance evaluation, continuous improvement, and retention of clinical educators in all clinical placement settings. Data is discussed with TPP faculty and CES and used for decision making (see http://uprm.edu/p/eppcaep/meetings_and_committees) and to assess or modify clinical experiences of teaching practices; all TPP CES meet at least twice a semester to discuss details of candidate performance, train in technology and discuss new normative documents published by PRDE. To become certified as a CT, teachers should take a 45-hour course which expires every 5 years. To recertify, CT take a 15 hour course. All courses are offered by the TPP with an ongoing agenda prepared by the PRDE in collaboration with TPP Directors of all higher education institutions. The course is offered by both institutional attendance and on-line mode (http://uprm.edu/p/eppcaep/cooperating_teacher_course ).
Through funding provided by external funds projects, TPP has provided continuous improvement and professional development courses to CT on effective planning for teaching through the use of standards (Standards in Practice (SiP), proof plans in online Web Tools), classroom management (Teach like to Champion, AFoRMAR) and use of IT technology (http://www.upr.edu/twt/). The TPP and Agriculture Education (EDAG) work in different ways with the PRDE to design clinical experiences of sufficient depth, breadth, diversity, coherence, and duration to ensure the candidates demonstrate their developing effectiveness and positive impact on all students learning and development. At the beginning of each school semester, TPP and EDAG Directors visit the educational regions and meet with the Special Assistant of the Secretary of Education of each district to discuss the assignment of candidates into EPEC along with the selection of possible CT who will monitor them (2.2.3). Before clinical experiences, TPP candidates carry out classroom observations in elementary and secondary level schools. Schools in elementary and intermediate levels are usually located in rural areas. Secondary schools are usually located in urban areas. All secondary schools receive students from various socio-economic backgrounds and from diverse geographical areas, either rural or urban. This allows teaching candidates to come in contact with a greater diverse student population. Candidates from the Physical Education Program, Fine Arts, and Theatre majors can choose whether to carry out their clinical experience at the elementary level (P-K-5th) or at secondary level. Candidates from other specializations are assigned to either the elementary-intermediate level (6th, 7th, and 8th) or secondary level (9th to 12th). From 2013 to 2016, with the authorization of PRDE, TPP placed candidates in approximately 43 EPECs, of which 29 are located in urban zones and 14 in rural zone (http://uprm.edu/p/eppcaep/clinical_practice_centers). EDAG places agriculture candidates in approximately 36 EPECs, of which 19 are in the rural area and 17 in the urban area.
Candidates are required to attend a week-long seminar (20 hours) prior to working at their assigned EPECs. During this week, technology skills and behavioral issues are explored and discussed. During the clinical experience, CES and candidates meet weekly in order to provide support with class planning, assessment, strategies, techniques, supplies and technological assistance. Since candidates evaluate seminars offered each semester, they may recommend new topics for the following semester (http://uprm.edu/p/eppcaep/ppmes_evaluation). Candidates are required 30 hours of classroom observation at either public or private schools before they reach their EPEC designation. Fifteen hours of observation and collaboration are required at a special education classroom (page 33 in http://uprm.edu/p/eppcaep/clinical_experience_manual). An additional 15 classroom observation hours in methodology course of the candidate’s content area are required. This 15-hour experience allows candidates to become acquainted with the EPEC where they will probably complete their clinical experience. Candidates may choose another school to complete their clinical requirements. A total of 300hours must be clocked during the clinical experience, i.e. 4 hours a day, 5 days a week. Candidates are also required to attend a weekly meeting with their CES which can be 1to 3 hours long.
CES are required to carry out 6 visits to the assigned EPEC during the semester. During the first visit, the CES meets the School Director, candidates are introduced, and they become acquainted with the CT, all other follow up visits are planned, the teaching practice objectives are discussed, evaluation instruments (1.1.2) and regulations are reviewed. Candidates are present at this meeting as well as in all subsequent meetings. The candidate’s CES and CT exchange contact information: email addresses and cell phone numbers. There is constant communication between the two and this allows for adequate feedback regarding content matters, skills, or dispositions either in person or online; CT sign the CES’s timesheet after each classroom visit (page 33 in http://uprm.edu/p/eppcaep/clinical_experience_manual).
Multiple clinical experience performance based assessments are used to demonstrate candidate development of the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions that are associated with a positive impact on the learning and development of all P-12 students. The candidate observation instrument is periodically updated and aligned with InTASC Standards, CAEP Standards and PRDE Professional Standards (pages 48-68 in 5.1.1) which the CES and CT use for 3 formative evaluations each. After each assessment, the CES and CT discuss the results with the candidate. Other assessments are a reflective essay on candidate’s teaching philosophy, the E-portfolio (which is worked throughout several courses) includes the Teacher Work Sample which showcases their lesson plans, teaching unit, evaluations and several samples of student work. A detailed description of the assessment at different key points is explained in the UPRM TPP Assessment System (5.1.1).