Teacher education programs represent the cooperative planning of the School of Education and the other major academic units of the University. All programs are under the overall coordination of the School of Education.
Welcome to the website of the Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) School of Education. The faculty and staff of the GSW School of Education are committed to preparing teachers who are skilled, reflective decision-makers. This embodies our vision of accomplished education professionals and is further detailed in all of our beliefs, goals, and mission.
The School of Education is comprised of six undergraduate programs: Early Childhood Education, Middle Grade Education, Health and Physical Education, Secondary Education, Special Education, and Exercise Science/Wellness. All of our programs reflect commitment to collaboration with our colleagues throughout the University and the local school systems. Through a network of 47 Professional Development Schools located in 14 area school systems, we fully integrate the field experience and academic components of our programs. Individuals can earn baccalaureate degrees with certification in Early Childhood Education, Middle Grades Education, Special Education, Health and Physical Education, and Music with Teacher Certification. Individuals interested in secondary certification can pursue baccalaureate degrees with certification in English, History, Mathematics, Music, and Political Science. We also offer the Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in Exercise Science/Wellness.
Advanced programs for educators with teaching certification are available. The Master of Education degree in Early Childhood Education, Middle Grades Language Arts, and Middle Grades Mathematics are graduate programs offered in the GSW School of Education.
The GSW School of Education is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). All of our initial-level teacher education programs are approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC).
We are proud of the education our candidates receive with emphasis on standards-based curriculum, research-based practices, and diversity. Many of our graduates have earned distinctions as Teachers of the Year in their schools and systems. We have included information and links on this website that will assist you in becoming more familiar with the GSW School of Education. We hope you will choose to join us as we pursue educational excellence within the context of an energetic and challenging learning community.
Rachel L. Abbott, Ph.D.
Dean & Associate Professor
GSW School of Education
The mission of the Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) School of Education is to prepare effective teachers who demonstrate the essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to promote grades P-12 student achievement.
The School of Education is committed to:
- develop leaders in education who have the essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions to make skilled, reflective decisions and who view grade P-12 student learning as the focus for their work;
- motivate life-long learning to adapt to the evolving needs of a global society and its diverse populations through high quality programs based upon exemplary instruction, knowledge of content, emergent technologies, and relevant research;
- develop candidates who accurately assess, reflect and make appropriate decisions about instruction resulting in achievement for all learners; and
- collaborate with families, schools, community partners, and others to improve the preparation of candidates and the effectiveness of practicing teachers
The School of Education endorses the mission statement and strategic plan of Georgia Southwestern State University and envisions its mission within the context of those principles.
Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW)
School of Education
Concept #1-Knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential for the teaching profession
We believe candidates need knowledge, skills, and dispositions of the academic disciplines they are to teach. Candidates need background knowledge of the history and philosophy of American public education in order to help guide their decision-making and being able to communicate these beliefs to parents, students, and other professionals as a professional teacher. Candidates must develop a knowledge base of human growth and development. Candidates have knowledge of how to treat students fairly and how to adapt instruction to meet the needs of all students. This will further support their development of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for effective teaching and learning including the use of current technology, and in applying best practices in classroom organization and management, and assessing student learning. All of these factors in combination will lead to mastery and the demonstration of essential skills needed for effective teaching.
We believe our society is diverse, complex, and ever changing. Faculty and candidates see diversity and complexity as a source of enrichment and are committed to capitalizing on this strength to advance lifelong learning for all students. We believe candidates must recognize teaching and learning are affected by one’s own cultural attitudes and beliefs and be sensitive when working with diverse populations in diverse settings. Candidates should be prepared to use instructional strategies that incorporate fairness, critical thinking, problem-solving, and performance skills of all students regardless of their differences.
Concept #3-Continuous reflection and assessment
We believe the educational preparation of candidates must involve continuous reflection and assessment. Candidates should be involved in extensive clinical experiences and be immersed in a learning process involving continuous reflection and assessment of themselves, their teaching skills, and the results of their instruction during their teacher preparation program. Candidates must understand and use formal and informal assessment strategies to diagnose students’ strengths and weaknesses, monitor students’ progress, assign grades, and determine ones’ own instructional effectiveness (Popham, 2008). Candidates should demonstrate the ability to assess, reflect, and revise their practices as necessary to accommodate the educational needs of all students.
We believe candidates should demonstrate professional behavior throughout their teacher preparation program. Professional dispositions are continuously discussed, demonstrated, and fairly assessed. Professional dispositions include, but are not limited to, attitude, responsibility, collaboration, and responsiveness to feedback and sensitivity to diversity. Candidates should demonstrate skills necessary to work with various stakeholders to support the achievement of all students and advocate for the teaching profession.
The School of Education at Georgia Southwestern State University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). This accreditation covers initial teacher preparation programs and advanced educator preparation programs. More information on the accreditation process can be found at the CAEP website. All initial teacher education programs are approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC) for recommendation for Georgia professional educator certification.
The administration, faculty, and staff of the School of Education at Georgia Southwestern State University proudly announce that the Continuous Improvement Commission of The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) has continued the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) at the initial teacher preparation level. Program faculty are especially excited to announce the Commission cited no areas for improvement relative to any of the NCATE standards.
A special thanks to our partner school network, colleagues, alumni, and student candidates for supporting our teacher preparation programs. The next accreditation visit will use the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) standards and is scheduled for Spring 2020.
- Standard 1 - Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions
- Standard 2 - Assessment System and Unit Evaluation
- Standard 3 - Field Experiences and Clinical Practice
- Standard 4 - Diversity
- Standard 5 - Faculty Qualifications, Performance, and Development
- Standard 6 - Unit Governance and Resources
The School of Education’s next NCATE/PSC review is Spring 2020.
The School of Education at Georgia Southwestern State University employs a comprehensive and systematic data collection process that the faculty and other stakeholders use to make program and unit level performance decisions. Specifically, the assessment system is designed to do the following:
- Provide a tool to track candidates across the unit’s transition points.
- Provide feedback to faculty advisors as well as program faculty regarding candidate performance.
- Provide data about unit and program performance relative to the School of Education’s student learning outcomes.
- Provide a tool by which faculty can identify strengths and weaknesses and work to make data-based improvements.
- Provide the framework for the national accreditation, state program approval, report writing, and evaluation process.
- Provide a comprehensive and systematic way to analyze unit and program operations for strategic planning and goal setting.
- Provide a means by which the faculty can track progress on those goals.
Accordingly, the School of Education focuses its assessment system around the unit’s mission statement, conceptual framework, and student learning outcomes with the goal of improving candidates’ preparation to teach p-12 learners.
NCATE Standard 2: Assessment and Unit Evaluation
A primary concern of the School of Education is the faculty’s ability to monitor, assess, and interpret the work of our preservice and in-service teacher education candidates and graduates. As such, the School of Education’s assessment system is founded on the NCATE framework for successful teacher education programs. Specifically, this handbook is concerned with NCATE Standard 2: Assessment and Unit Evaluation which states the following:
The Unit has an assessment system that collects and analyzes data on applicant qualifications, candidate and graduate performance, and Unit operations to evaluate and improve the Unit and its programs
Element 1: Assessment System
- The Unit has developed an assessment system with its professional community that reflects the conceptual framework(s) and professional and state standards.
- The Unit’s system includes a comprehensive and integrated set of evaluation measures that are used to monitor candidate performance and manage and improve operations and programs.
- Decisions about candidate performance are based on multiple assessments made at admission into programs, at appropriate transition points, and at program completion.
- Assessments used to determine admission, continuation in, and completion of programs are predictors of candidate success.
- The Unit takes effective steps to eliminate sources of bias in performance assessments and works to establish the fairness, accuracy, and consistency of its assessment procedures.
Element 2: Data Collection, Analysis, and Evaluation
- The Unit maintains an assessment system that provides regular and comprehensive information on applicant qualifications, candidate proficiencies, competence of graduates, unit operations, and program quality.
- Using multiple assessments from internal and external sources, the Unit collects data from applicants, candidates, recent graduates, faculty, and other members of the professional community.
- The Unit maintains a record of formal candidate complaints and documentation of their resolution.
- These data are regularly and systematically complied, summarized, and analyzed to improve candidate performance, program quality, and Unit operations.
- The Unit maintains its assessment system through the use of information technologies.
Element 3: Use of Data for Program Improvement
- The Unit regularly and systematically uses data, including candidate and graduate performance information, to evaluate the efficacy of its courses, programs, and clinical experiences.
- The Unit analyzes program evaluation and performance assessment data to initiate changes where indicated.
- Candidate and faculty assessment data are regularly shared with candidates and faculty representatives to help them reflect on their performance and improve it.
Using these standards as a guide, the School of Education monitors, assesses, and interprets the progress that our candidates and programs make toward meeting our conceptual framework and student learning outcomes. Accordingly, the faculty focus on a series of questions to guide their analysis and evaluation. These questions are:
- How do we prepare our candidates to accomplish our student learning outcomes and exhibit the behaviors outlined in the conceptual framework?
- What are our candidates’ weaknesses and how can we improve our instructional practices and program curriculums to address these weaknesses?
- What are our candidates’ strengths and how can we build on those strengths with our instructional practices and program curriculums?
- What are we doing? How do we do what we are doing? Why do we do what we do?
- What are we not doing? Why are we not doing what we are not doing?
- What does what we are doing accomplish? What does what we are doing not accomplish? What might what we are not doing accomplish? How do we know?
The Education Unit has the leadership and authority to plan, deliver, and operate coherent programs of study within the context of the university, its policies and procedures, and those of the University System of Georgia. Within this context leadership of and authority for planning, delivery, and operation of programs within the Education Unit are collaboratively exercised through the departments, functional committees, Teacher Education Council, and the dean. As the Partner School Network matures, more systematic input from unit's P-12 colleagues intro program development, delivery and revision is anticipated.
Rachel L. Abbott (Hilbish), Ph.D., CHES
Dean and Associate Professor
School of Education
Education Center, Room 202
(229) 931-2163 fax
Office of Field and Clinical Experiences
Clinical and field experiences are critical elements of teacher education. Because teacher candidates consistently refer to their school-based experiences as some of the most important parts of their learning about teaching, the School of Education is committed to integrating course work with high quality field work. According to the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (2010), high quality teacher preparation programs have three salient features: “(1) tight integration among courses and between course work and clinical work; (2) extensive and intensively supervised clinical work integrated with course work; and (3) close, proactive relationships with schools that serve diverse learning effectively and develop and model good teaching” (p. 1). Accordingly, the Office of Clinical and Field Experiences’ mission is to help facilitate this work. For more information on clinical preparation and the direction of teacher education, click on the following reports:
AACTE. (2010). The clinical preparation of teachers: A policy brief. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.NCATE – Transforming Teacher Education Through Clinical Practice: A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers
Faculty members within the School of Education believe field experiences significantly contribute to the development of teacher candidates as educational professionals. Field experiences are required of all candidates seeking certification in teaching fields offered by Georgia Southwestern State University. Candidates are required to complete at a minimum, the equivalent of one full year of teaching by the conclusion of their degree program. This year of teaching includes field experiences completed prior to the student teaching experience.
Partner School Network
The School of Education strongly believes that field experiences are essential elements in all preservice teacher education programs. Collaboration with area Partner School Network enables students to observe and participate in classrooms beginning with the foundations courses and continuing through the capstone field experience-Student Teaching. Georgia Southwestern State University's Partner School Network are located in the following counties: Ben-Hill, Crisp, Coffee, Dougherty, Houston, Irwin, Lee, Macon, Marion, Pulaski, Schley, Sumter, Stewart, Taylor, Tift, Turner, Webster, and Wilcox. The Partner School Network also includes the GSW Pre-K.