U.S. Department of Education
Rates Samford at the Top in Effective Teacher Preparation
The grades are in, and Samford's
education school ranks at the top nationally in teacher preparation.
The U.S. Department of Education presented its first National
Award for Effective Teacher Preparation to Samford University's
Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education and Professional Studies.
Beth Roberson '96, who teaches fifth
grade at Edgewood Elementary, praises Samford's education program
for getting her into public school classrooms in every course.
Secretary of Education Richard Riley presented the award-part
of the Department of Education's effort to promote excellence
in teacher preparation-to Samford Education Dean Ruth C. Ash
Dec. 7 in Washington, D.C.
Samford was one of four schools recognized after a rigorous examination
in this prestigious and highly competitive new national program.
The others were Fordham University in New York, East Carolina
University in Greenville, N.C., and Alverno College in Milwaukee,
"These cutting-edge programs will provide powerful examples
for others seeking to ensure that their graduates make a measurable
difference in the achievement of K12 students," said
Secretary Riley. "We looked at programs that could provide
compelling evidence that their graduates were effective classroom
teachers capable of advancing the learning of all students."
". . . a national model of excellence that other colleges
and universities can look to as they seek to transform their
own institutions." Richard
Riley, Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
Riley said each of the institutions "has given us a national
model of excellence that other colleges and universities can
look to as they seek to transform their own institutions."
He added, "These four institutions are doing something special."
In keeping with the Department of Education's priorities on reading
and math, the first year of competition focused on spotlighting
programs that prepare elementary teachers or secondary mathematics
Samford was recognized for its Elementary Education program,
which has undergone extensive revision since 1993, according
to Dean Ash. The new approach is based on a simple strategy:
respond to the real needs of today's schools.
"Since that time, the school of education has conducted
extensive annual surveys of its recent graduates and their employers
to learn how it can better prepare prospective teachers,"
said Dean Ash. "Formal advisory groups of superintendents,
principals, teachers and education school graduates recommend
new programs or curricular emphases that meet specific needs
in the schools."
Jack Farr, superintendent of Hoover City Schools, worked with
Ash and education professor Maurice Persall to develop a strategic
plan for the Hoover district.
"I'm not surprised [about the award]," said Farr. "Ruth
Ash has always been ahead of the curve in terms of seeing and
understanding the real problems, the real issues. So many see
only the symptoms."
|Enjoying the award
presentation at Washington's Anderson House are, from left, Samford
acting provost Joe Lewis, president Thomas Corts, education dean
Ruth Ash, U. S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, associate
dean Jean Box and professor Carol Dean.
Evan K. Major, superintendent of Shelby County Schools, consults
with Ash and Persall on the hiring of teachers. He said the Samford
graduates they hire "are well-prepared for the classroom
and well-versed in teaching techniques for all children."
All Samford early childhood and elementary level teacher candidates
must earn four certificates, including Early Childhood, Early
Childhood Special Education, Elementary and Elementary Special
Samford places a high priority in getting student teachers into
the classroom as part of their practical learning experience.
Every graduate has clinical experience in urban, rural and suburban
"You hear about teachers whose first classroom experience
is the first day on their job, but every single education course
I had at Samford got me out into the schools," said Beth
Roberson '96, a fifth grade teacher at Edgewood Elementary School
"They gave me real-life experience before I graduated. Your
first year of teaching, all you have to fall back on is your
education. I was more comfortable than some because Samford helped
me develop a variety of teaching strategies."
Brandy Ragland, who floats between elementary, middle and high
school teaching in Fairfield, said the multiple certification
helped make her a better teacher and more marketable.
"I was hired even before I graduated," said Ragland,
who teaches English as a Second Language.
Schools considered for the National Award for Effective Teacher
Preparation were asked to demonstrate the link between their
teacher preparation programs and their graduates' ability to
improve student learning in reading and mathematics. The U.S.
Department of Education's regional laboratories coordinated a
rigorous review process that included a first round of evaluation
by a non-federal panel of experts, comprehensive site visits
of the most promising programs and final review by a blue-ribbon
The panel made recommendations to Secretary Riley, who selected
the final honorees.
In presenting the National Award, Riley said, "More than
half of the 2.2 million teachers needed over the next decade
will be first-time teachers who need to be
well-prepared to teach an increasingly diverse student population
to high standards. The time is right to draw attention to those
teacher preparation programs that are particularly effective
in preparing teachers who can have a positive impact on learning
for all students."
He added that "identifying effective programs, and studying
and disseminating what we learn from them will significantly
advance efforts to improve teacher preparation in America."
Ash called the award "a welcome endorsement" that confirms
what key Samford education program statistics already suggest.
In 1993, the year after Ash left public school administration
to become Samford dean, 80 percent of the school's graduates
were employed within three months of certification. By contrast,
100 percent of the Class of 2000 met that goal.
In addition, education school enrollment is 52 percent higher
than when program revisions began in '93, and scores on national
exams continue on the upswing.
The grades are in on the Samford education school's efforts to
prepare effective teachers. And it's one fine report card.