Winter 2000
Vol. 17 No. 4
Publication Number:
USPS 244-800


National Model of Excellence

Soldier and Soldat

Studying Guide-by-Your-Side

Love Those Statistics!

These Were Close, Too

Other Stories
Willingness to Change Made Education School Most Effective

Faculty Compendium

Watching for Patent Expiration Dates Can Save Consumers on prescription Drug Costs

Bennett Cites Influence of a Great Teacher, Dean Percy Burns

A Cappella Choir CD Available

Floyd, Marler Receive $56,000 Lilly Fellows Program Grant

Debow, Sansom Get $32,000 Award from Atlas, Templeton

Samford Honors Alabama Ministers
Scofields Rate a Homecoming Cheer
for Loyal Support of Their Alma Mater

Crimson Editors Half a Century Apart
Find Differences, Similarities in the Job

Having a ball at Homecoming

Men's Cross-Country Team Wins Second TAAC Title; Kolb Named All-TAAC Freshman After Nine-Goal SeasonCLASS NOTES


Winter 2000

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, Wisc.

"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 teachers.

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 Education.

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 schools.

"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 in Homewood.

"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 panel.

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.