Catawba College’s Teacher Education Program has received the highest possible rank on the 2004-2005 Institution of Higher Education Performance Report and is judged by the North Carolina State Board of Education as having “met expectations.” Additionally, Catawba’s first-year teachers (the 2003-2004 cohort of student teachers) had a 100 percent pass rate on the PRAXIS II, placing the program in the first quartile of teacher education programs in the state.
Dr. James Stringfield, chair of Catawba’s Teacher Education Department, noted that the 100 percent pass rate on the PRAXIS II was really something for the entire college community to take pride in. “This is good news for everybody because this test reflects well on our students’ ability to absorb both academic content and pedagogy,” he said.
Survey results reveal the high regard which Catawba College’s first-year teachers have for their preparation to become teachers. With regard to satisfaction with their preparation to work with diverse learners, the Catawba program had the highest scores in the state. The college ranked second for preparation in classroom management (a tie), and third for overall program quality. There are 47 teacher education programs in North Carolina, and 38 schools had sufficient numbers of survey respondents to have results posted. Overall, Catawba College ranked in the first quartile on all responses from first-year teachers.
Mentors assigned to Catawba’s first-year teachers gave the College’s teacher education program high marks. Based on the average tally of their responses over a five-year period, their marks were the best in the state. Responding principals also highly ranked Catawba’s teacher education program, with marks ranking it as one of the top five programs in the state for the quality of the program, its students’ ability to effectively manage a classroom, its students’ ability to use technology to enhance learning and address the needs of diverse learners, and its students’ preparation to deliver curriculum content through a variety of instructional approaches.
Since 1991, Catawba’s Teacher Education Program has been nationally accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, an organization which accredits more than 500 institutions which produce two-thirds of the nation’s new teacher graduates each year. NCATE-accredited schools must meet rigorous standards set by the profession and members of the public. Teacher candidates must have in-depth knowledge of the subject matter that they plan to teach as well as the skills necessary to convey it so that students learn. The college or university must carefully assess this set knowledge and skills to determine that candidates may graduate. Additionally, the institution must have partnerships with P-12 schools that enable candidates to develop the skills necessary to help students learn.
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes NCATE as the professional accrediting body for schools, departments, and colleges of education. On-site visits, document review, and accreditation decisions are all carried out by professionals from the education community, including teachers, school specialists, and teacher educators, as well as members of the public and education policymakers.
Catawba offers bachelor’s and master’s levels of professional education programs. The College, through its Department of Teacher Education, offers a major in Elementary Education (K-6) or Middle School (6-9). The Department also offers a minor in Secondary Education (9-12) with licensure in English, Mathematics, Science (Biology, Chemistry and Comprehensive Science), and Comprehensive Social Studies, and a minor in Special Subject Areas (K-12) with licensure in Music and Physical Education. A program leading to licensure in the special field of Reading (K-12) is available.
The Department of Teacher Education is the only department at Catawba to offer a graduate degree program. Practicing or in-service teachers having an initial or continuing license in Elementary Education may pursue a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education (K-6).
Members of Catawba’s Teacher Education Faculty in addition to Dr. Stringfield, include Dr. Lou Ann Kasias, Dr. William Russell, Dr. Patricia Whitley, professors; Dr. Cynthia Osterhus (a former N.C. Teacher of the Year) and Ms. Charlesetta Dawson, assistant professors; Dr. Stephen Etters, associate professor; and Ms. Amanda Bosch, Director of Curriculum Materials Center.
Catawba College has offered Teacher Education programs in Salisbury since 1925. Last year, there were more than 200 of its graduates who were employed as teachers in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools.