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Standard 3 Report

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  • Standard 3 Report

3.1 How does the unit work with the school partners to deliver field experience and clinical practice to enable candidates to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to help all students learn?

3a. Collaboration between Unit and School Partners
Edinboro University (EU) has worked collaboratively with our local public schools and agencies to deliver field experiences and clinical practice that allow for the development of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to become Effective Facilitators of Learning. Throughout its history, but most notably since 2005 when the SOE established its first Professional Development School (PDS) partnership with Erie City School District (ECSD), collaborative partnerships have been utilized to design, implement, and evaluate field experiences and clinical practice.

The SOE and its partners collaborate to provide clinical experiences for teacher candidates in initial certification programs. While maintaining the collaboration with ECSD through Roosevelt Middle and Peiffer Burleigh Elementary Schools, EU continues to develop PDS partnerships, most recently with Penncrest School District at Cambridge Springs Elementary and the Erie County YMCA. (Exhibit 3.3.a) Currently, two PDS directors collaborate to facilitate initiatives that serve to build reciprocal benefits and ultimately contribute to student learning in the P-12 schools. Recent examples include a Multicultural Night at Pfeiffer Burleigh and also an after school tutoring program at Cambridge Springs Elementary.

Collaboration is evident with all of our regional P-12 partners which include approximately 39 school districts. Many of these districts serve a large ELL population (e.g., Perseus House), a large population of low SES students (e.g., Corry, Titusville, and Union City), or are diverse in race/ethnicity (Erie School District).  Outside of the region, the SOE collaborates with the Department of Defense to provide international clinical experience for initial certification candidates. Over the past four years, the Unit also, in conjunction with the University's office of International Student Services of EU, developed a relationship with schools located in China. For examples of programming established through these partnerships and other informal agreements with local agencies (Exhibit 3.3.a). In addition, advanced programs partner with local schools as well as schools from across the state, country, and the world. Many field and residency experiences occur outside of the public school system at community-based agencies, clinical settings, and charter schools (Exhibit 3.3.a). Culminating experiences such as the clinical experience in the Reading Program and the research project on student achievement in the Educational Leadership program contribute to the ongoing collaboration of University and P-12 partners.

Collaboration is not only evidenced by the number/type of sites for the clinical experiences but also in the variety of stakeholders who have input into the development of these experiences (Exhibit 3.3.a). Although the design of field and clinical experiences is primarily the responsibility of the SOE faculty, the Unit and school partners share expertise and integrate resources to support candidate learning. P-12 administration and clinical faculty are consulted on all phases of field experience and clinical practice. For example, the Early Childhood and Special Education Department pilots all new assessments and requests feedback from cooperating teachers on the overall quality of each junior field experience placement.

Formal collaborative activities include advisory groups such as the Educational Partners Advisory Council (EPAC) and the ECSD Academic Advisory Group. EPAC was started in Fall 2011 and consists of a vital group consisting of superintendents and administrators from area school districts. This group meets once a semester at the University to discuss important topics affecting partnerships, clinical experiences, and impact of programs on P-12 student learning. Feedback from the EPAC group indicated a need for a 7-12 Special Education program. In response to this request, SOE faculty have used a grant from PDE to develop such a program which will be submitted to PDE for review in Spring 2013.  Also during the Fall 2012 semester, university field and student teaching coordinators from each department met with the EPAC to discuss concerns related to implementation of state guidelines for the four stages of field experiences. We were able to develop a mutually beneficial plan in response to these concerns which was implemented immediately (EPAC minutes & SPED 7-12 minutes). The ECSD Academic Advisory Group council consists of four higher education institutions working together to increase the opportunities for student achievement of the P-12 students within the regional, high poverty, diverse district of Erie.

In addition, Unit faculty members collaborate with P-12 students, parents and community members on a variety of experiences along with district administration and clinical faculty. Examples include literacy nights, multicultural nights, parent literacy workshops, and Wilderness Quest (Exhibit 3.3.a).  

Through collaborative development, implementation and evaluation of clinical experiences, the Unit is able to prepare candidates to be Effective Facilitators of Learning.

3b. Design Implementation and Evaluation of Field Experiences and Clinical Practice
Established criteria for entrance to clinical practice is well documented for all initial certifications as well as advanced programming. Please see Exhibit 3.3.b for evidence of all established criteria.

EU initial certification candidates complete four stages of field experiences. Reflecting PDE guidelines, the SOE established four stages of field ranging from observations to full clinical practice (Exhibit 3.3.b). Initial certificate candidates participate in a variety of observations and exploratory activities in Stage 1 and 2 field experiences, all requiring reflective practice. Classroom observations, tutoring, community events, and school board meetings are just a few examples of the opportunities provided through partnerships with local schools and agencies.

In Stage 3 field experiences, the teacher candidates continue to apply and reflect on their content, professional and pedagogical knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions. Teacher candidates and interns complete coursework focused on pedagogy in conjunction with extended field experiences in schools, childcare centers, afterschool programs (art field program), alternative education youth centers (grant with PH), and agencies.

Prior to the capstone experience, all initial certification students must successfully complete state mandated licensure exams. In these Stage 4 experiences, the candidate is fully integrated into the school program and into teaching practice. Candidates complete observations and are observed by supervisors and clinical faculty (observation forms). They interact with teachers, families of students, administrators, university supervisors, and other interns about their practice continually. Candidates reflect on their experiences in lesson reflections, debriefings, and goal setting with clinical faculty and supervisors. They also participate in professional performance courses where they discuss and reflect with other teacher candidates (SEDU 491, SPED 486, ECED 380, ELED 450).

Coordination of all internship/student teaching clinical experiences for initial programs is handled through the Office of Certification and Student Teaching (OCST). The OCST collaborates with leaders of more than 100 individual schools in 20 school districts, matching candidates with cooperating teachers in rural, urban, and suburban districts. Matches are submitted using the established protocol of the district for approval and/or additional recommendations. The Director of Field Experiences and Student Teaching may also discuss individual cases with district personnel until placements are finalized.

The OCST and Unit are responsible for determining required criteria for clinical faculty and working with the P-12 administration to determine the acceptability of qualified clinical faculty. The OCST is also responsible for the training of all supervisors and clinical faculty to ensure that all parties are aware of their responsibilities to the candidates, P-12 students, and the Unit (Attendance & PPT).  Additionally, the OCST Director ensures that all University supervisors have a teaching credential and/or appropriate experience for the area in which they supervise.

All programs are responsible for coordinating early stage and all embedded field experiences. A designated faculty member, usually the Department’s Assistant Chair or the Program Head, accomplishes this coordination. Each of these individuals is responsible for the training of those involved as clinical faculty for these field experiences. These trainings occur both on-site and on campus. (EMSE Junior Field training)

The field and capstone experiences for each advanced program, including conventional and distance learning programs, encourage candidates through the use of embedded field experiences to synthesize theory and apply it to their fields of study. Additionally, they call for practicums and internships with different durations and requirements that are driven by the standards of the individual SPAs (syllabi and handbooks and SPAs).

Field and capstone experiences have various evaluation tools which include but are not limited to the Teacher Candidate Performance Profile (TCPP), Instructional Assessment Plan (IAP), and PDE 430 form. Though all of these are effective Unit assessments, the IAP is an assessment that yields rich data reflecting candidate knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Teacher candidates justify their own practice based on data collected through pre- and post- instructional assessment and analysis. Completion of this assessment requires teacher candidates to provide evidence of impact on student learning.

All initial programs require a course in instructional technology. As can be seen in the results of the Technology Survey, teacher candidates are well-versed in software and on-line resources as well as integrating interactive white boards, iPads, and other instructional media into their instruction and assessment. Additional evaluation of appropriate technology integration in instruction occurs through the use of the Report of Supervision form, TCPP, and PDE 430 (Exhibit 3.3.f).  Advanced programs require course work focused on the use and implementation of appropriate technology for their respective fields (Exhibit 3.3.f).

Exit criteria for initial certification and advanced programs are well defined and can be seen in Exhibit 3.3.b.

3c. Candidates' development and demonstration of knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions to help all students learn

Initial certification candidates demonstrate mastery of content areas and pedagogical and professional knowledge through course grades and key SPA assessments, Unit assessments, and state mandated professional exams (PECT, PAPA and Praxis). Prior to enrolling in student teaching/internship, candidates must complete prior field experiences as well as the required professional examination. Advanced programs vary in mandated test requirements, but all require a clinical experience to demonstrate mastery.

The Unit’s CF is reflected in all field and clinical experiences. The CF is aligned with INTASC, Pennsylvania State Standards, and the pertinent SPA standards, which are in turn aligned with program requirements and assessments. In addition, all candidates in field and student teaching complete an assignment that requires them to describe how the experience has enriched their understanding of the CF (Exhibit 3.3.f).

The ability of candidates to affect student learning is assessed in the initial certification program through multiple assessment strategies including the IAP, as well as reflected on the Discipline Specific Competencies, TCPP, and the PDE 430 (Exhibit 3.3.f). These evaluations are completed by both clinical faculty as well as university supervisors.

All programs facilitate reflective practice through coursework and during all stages of field.  See syllabi and outlines in Exhibit 3.3.b. Candidates are provided the opportunity to discuss reflection with clinical faculty during Weekly Student Teaching Analysis.  Candidates also begin continuous assessment, reflection and action directed at impacting P-12 learning by developing the IAP. All clinical practice is designed to provide opportunities that include students with exceptionalities and students from diverse ethnic/racial, linguistic, gender and socioeconomic groups.  Each candidate in the SOE is required to take two courses in special education (See SPED 210 and 370 syllabi) and required by policy to have a “diverse” placement for either their Stage 3 or Stage 4 clinical experience.

3.2.a The following are areas where the Unit is currently performing at the Target level.
All programs in the SOE are focused on the goal of developing the professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions of candidates such that all completers will have a positive impact on P-12 student learning.  In the spirit of continuous improvement, programs continue to make data-driven changes in order to attain this goal, however, there are areas at which the Unit feels both initial and advanced programs are performing at "target" level.  These areas include the following: collaboration with our School Partners to provide excellent instructional activities and field experiences for candidates; the design and implementation of clinical experiences that allow reflective practice to inform decision making; and the work with P-12 schools to provide professional development for clinical faculty.  The number and type of activities vary by program, and the following sections give a brief summary of these experiences and demonstrate the commitment of the Unit in these areas.

A.    Collaboration between Unit and School Partners.
Conceptual Framework: As can be seen in the History of the CF, during the development and refinement of the framework faculty members from across the Unit and across the University were consulted at length through committee, program, department, and unit meetings over the course of two years. Currently, on-going evaluation of the CF by P-12 partners occurs through discussions at bi-annual EPAC meetings and through the use of the Clinical Faculty Survey (results). Both efforts began in the 2011-2012 year and will continue as an integral piece of the assessment system.

Instructional Activities for Candidates and Students:  As a result of joint deliberations and the development of the CF, programs became more committed to engaging candidates in experiences that bring meaning to the CF. For example, to encourage candidates to focus on respect and embrace diversity (CF - A), candidates have the opportunity to attend the Philadelphia Urban Experience, provide a reading clinic for children of migrant workers, and participate in activities in high poverty urban and rural PDS schools. Opportunities that support the educational and personal growth of learners (CF-C) include Student Shadowing Day for Perseus House Charter School students and  College for Every Student presentations at Cambridge and East High Schools. Authentic experiences such as Wilderness Quest outdoor camp and Code Orange Day as well as activities at McKeever Environmental Center with middle school students, and stage 3 field experiences through YMCA partnerships allow candidates to lead and monitor student learners using motivational and management skills (CF-G). Finally, candidates are encouraged to assess, create, and adapt instruction that provides opportunities for every student to be successful (CF-J) in activities such as the Art after-school field in conjunction with CHAMPS, HPE Swim lesson for those with special needs in the PennCrest School District, and the MEd in ECED Summer Residency program. More information on each activity listed can be seen in Exhibit 3.3.a.

B.     Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Field and Clinical Experiences
Apply and Reflect in a Variety of Settings: All programs within the SOE recognize the importance of reflective practice and using reflection to guide decisions that impact student learning. For this reason, opportunities for reflection are found throughout programs.

In SEDU 271, a course taken by all teacher candidates, virtual observations are completed specifically to demonstrate best practices in ELL instruction. Candidates also observe in a PreK-12 classroom. In each instance, candidates are required to reflect upon the observations and discuss their experiences.

Middle Level candidates enrolled in MLED 350/360 participate in a variety of observational experiences, including shadowing a student, observing teaming, and participating in advisory team. They reflect on each of these experiences and make connections to research based middle level practices and features as well as adolescent development. 

In light of the new middle level certification in PA, administration from Titusville Middle School along with faculty from the Unit and the district are piloting a year-long clinical experience that incorporates the teaming aspect of recommended middle level practices. In this more intensive Stage 3 and 4 field experiences, school partners are involved in the delivery and evaluation of field and clinical experiences . Cooperating teachers also participate in formative and summative evaluations of candidates in junior field and student teaching.

Middle and Secondary candidates are required to complete three specific observations before entering Stage 3 field.  These observations include reflections based on diversity, classroom management, and student characteristics. 

Dual candidates of Early Childhood and Special Education have three field experiences prior to Stage 4 field. These experiences require candidates to create, teach, and reflect on each lesson and to discuss their experiences.

Advanced programs also have many opportunities for field experiences prior to clinical experiences. For instance, the Educational Leadership program has field embedded into every course leading up to the internship experience. These experiences are assessed through a summary evaluation and reflection. School Psychology also requires observations to be completed in four different courses prior to internship, again assessing through both reflection and comprehensive exams.

In advanced programs for certified teachers, field experiences are also required. Graduate students in EMSE who are certified teachers take part in a candidate designed field experience focusing on an area that the individual identifies as a professional development need. This Design Your Own Experience (DYO) has a series of required stages to complete and involves reflection, research, observation, implementation, and a final presentation. In ECED 720 candidates participate in a one week residency where they help plan and implement a math/science  center. In the MEd in Special Education, candidates are certified teachers seeking special education certification.  Candidates complete a 125 hour internship with a certified special education teacher.

Stage 3 field experiences are included for all initial teacher candidates as a separate course for most programs, though Early Childhood has completely embedded field experiences. These experiences are intensive and require 90 hours in the classroom – observing, helping, teaching, and fully participating as an instructional partner with the clinical faculty. Candidates are required to reflect on all lessons taught in the field. (Handbooks)

Candidates reflect on and can justify their own practice: Initial teacher candidates are required to reflect on each lesson they teach throughout their Stage 3 and Stage 4 experiences (handbooks). They are instructed to provide reflection on their instruction, classroom management, and methods of assessment and determine what was effective or ineffective and what ways they could improve their performance, management, and assessment methods based on analysis of student learning. Further evidence of reflection from initial certification candidates can be seen through inspecting the descriptions and data from the IAP and the CF reflection assignment .

Candidates in advanced programs are required to reflect and justify their practice throughout all programs. Evidence can be seen by reviewing key assessments including but not limited to the following:
(a) Reading – Case Study and Professional Development Project
(b) Ed Leadership – Personal Vision Essay and Focus Project
(c) School Psychology – Comprehensive Evaluation
(d) Masters in Middle & Secondary – Portfolio
(e) Special Education – Most Promising Practice Project
(f) Masters in Early Childhood – Math & Science Learning Project

For more evidence of reflection, please see SPAs.

Candidates interact with teachers, families, administrators, university supervisors and other interns about their practice
There are many opportunities throughout the SOE's programs for candidates to interact with other candidates as well as with Unit, University, and P-12 faculty.  One example of this opportunity for interaction within an initial program is the EMSE Portfolio Showcase and Interview held on campus each semester. The showcase features portfolios assembled by Junior Field (stage 3) candidates to display evidence to all those invited including University, Unit, and P-12 faculty and administration. The poster session demonstrates how a candidate's experience modeled the CF, met the INTASC standards, and impacted their teaching as well as student learning.  In a similar light, the Educational Leadership Showcase allows advanced program candidates to participate in an AERA-style poster presentation based on their internship experience and action research.  The Reading Clinic luncheon allows reading candidates to come together with their University Supervisors to discuss their experiences as well as to acknowledge the efforts of the collaborating P-12 partners. Interaction with families is exemplified through the Literacy Nights planned and implemented by candidates in the Early Childhood programs.  Other examples of interaction can be seen in projects such as the following: Reading Professional Development ProjectStage 4 Student Teaching; School Psychology InternshipECED Family Literacy BagSPED Option II Response to Intervention Project; and the Masters in Early Childhood Child Case Study.

Candidates in Advanced programs participate in field experiences that require them to critique and synthesize educational theory related to practice based on applied research: Advanced programs all include the design, implementation, and evaluation of activities that are theoretically-based and involve the use of research and technology. As examples, the Educational Leadership program has a Student Achievement Focus project and a poster presentation completed according to AERA guidelines. School Psychology interns are involved in case studies. Middle and Secondary Masters students are involved in action research projects.  Masters in Early Childhood candidates participate in case studies and action research projects, and, likewise, candidates in the Reading program are also involved in action research projects and case studies.

3c. Candidates' development and demonstration of Knowledge, Skills, & Dispositions to help all students learn.
Candidates work collaboratively with other candidates and clinical faculty to critique and reflect on each other’s practice and their effects on student learning: All candidates are involved in projects requiring collaboration with other candidates.  Through coursework, in-class discussions, discussion boards, and chats, candidates are able to share perspectives and develop appreciation for the perspectives of others. Seminar classes, such as SEDU 491, ELED 450, and ECED 380, taken concurrently with student teaching, allow candidates in their capstone experience to ask questions of one another and develop insights from others’ experiences.  Additionally, there are three practicum days or professional development days designed for all candidates in student teaching to interact with their peers, with university faculty, and with professionals in the field.

Candidates interact with clinical faculty routinely to gain feedback on their teaching and impact on student learning.  Weekly goal setting meetings with clinical faculty, conferences with university supervisors and Skype conferences with professors, are all used for this purpose.  Through written and oral feedback channels, there are ample opportunities for clinical faculty to critique a candidate’s performance.

Candidates are able to reflect on and analyze clinical faculty performance through written observations completed at all stages of field.  Though these observations are not shared with the clinical faculty directly, discussions of virtual observations are held in SEDU 271, and written feedback on required observations is given to candidates as part of coursework in SPED 210, SEDU 475, and student teaching. Additionally, seminar courses during student teaching allow candidates in those programs the opportunity to discuss techniques observed in the classroom.

Professional Development (PD) activities: As is evident from the CF, a commitment to excellence within our programs necessitates a desire to collaborate with, learn from, and engage in a professional learning community with other educators. To model this, professional development (PD) with local schools and partners as well as with other P-12 faculty is evident across the Unit.  One major example of this type of collaboration is our relationship with Perseus House Charter School of Excellence.  Through a 3 year PD Grant with Perseus House Charter School, PD  has been and continues to be provided in the form of workshops, 3 credit graduate courses, model classrooms, and action research projects. Joint Conferences with General McLane (GM) School District have provided opportunities for both University and P-12 faculty to present and learn from each other. Further, EU has always supported NWPMSA conferences through strong participation and as the event coordinators. PD activities are also provided through our PDS partnerships including 3 credit graduate courses for ECSD faculty. Other attempts at providing and benefiting from PD activities include the following: Presentations at conferences for University and P-12 faculty such as the Keystone State Reading Association, National Council for the Teachers of Mathematics, the National Middle School Association, and the Principals Leadership Induction Network; Consultantships and mentorships with GM School District, Art in Action, and PA novice leaders; and providing a Director, coordination, and support of the PennLake National Writing Project.

More information on each of these is available by clicking the link as well as in Faculty Vitae  and the Faculty Qualification Survey data.

The following are areas where the Unit is strong but still “moving to target.”

Though all programs within the Unit strive to be "target" in all areas of preparing candidates, it is with a spirit of continuous improvement that certain areas have been identified as still "moving to target." For some of these areas, certain programs are quite strong and are being investigated as models for other programs. Improvement is already under way will continue to be supported by the new governance structure, including the addition of EPAC, strengthened support of PDS, and continued efforts to provide opportunities to work with diverse populations.

3a. Jointly determining placements: The Director of Field Experiences and Student Teaching continues to work with Principals and Superintendents to ensure the best possible placement for teacher candidates. Candidates are placed based on information given in the application such as location, P-12 school attended, experience with diverse learners, and certification area. It is the responsibility of the designated district administrator to supply the OCST and the field coordinators with appropriate clinical faculty. Training for cooperating teachers is held every semester for those working with student teachers in all content areas. Similar training is held for those working with Junior Field candidates at the Middle and Secondary level.  Training is also required by the School Psychology Program and the Educational Leadership Program provides on-site training (Manual) for its on-site supervisors. This training is particularly important since most candidates in advanced programs are completing field experiences and internships within the districts where they work, and therefore, program heads assign the placement according to adult learner needs and in support of growing professionals in the institution. To further ensure the best possible placement for candidates, approval of the mentor is documented on the internship application in programs such as the Educational Leadership, Special Education, and Counseling. Similarly, internship agreements are signed by both SOE and Clinical faculty in School Psychology.

PDS: The Professional Development Schools Partnership, which began as the result of a Congressional Grant in 2005, has experienced structural changes since its inception. The funding provided support for director release time, resources for the schools, substitutes for K-12 liaisons to attend the steering committee meetings, and support for professional development. As the funding ended, less financial support contributed to challenges in continuing to finance substitutes for the steering committee meetings. This led to a change in structure whereby the director met with the liaisons from each school on site rather than gather all liaisons together. However, in the spirit of continuous improvement and acknowledging the value of the guidance of a steering committee, the PDS directors intend to reinstitute the steering committee model during the spring 2013 semester. Using the NCATE rubric for evaluation, the steering committee will assess the current structure and develop a plan to move forward.

3c. Candidates develop and demonstrate proficiencies that support learning by all students as shown in their work with students with exceptionalities and those from diverse ethnic/racial, linguistic, gender, and socioeconomic groups: Though the location of EU can be restrictive to the Unit’s ability to provide ethnically/racially diverse experiences, the Unit is dedicated to providing initial certification candidates the opportunity to develop and demonstrate the proficiencies that support learning by all students. This dedication can be seen through policies such as the requirement of all Initial certification candidates to have a diverse Stage 3 or 4 placement and through the required coursework of SEDU 271 and SPED 210 for candidacy. This commitment is augmented by the state mandate for 90 hours of ELL & 270 hours of Special Education instruction, but is also exemplified through presentations such as Poverty and the Urban Learner at practicum days for student teachers. Other experiences available to candidates to encourage the disposition that all students can learn include the established Philadelphia Urban experience, the newly developed Erie Urban experience, and the PDS collaborative HPE Swim project.

Though all advanced programs in the Unit now require field experiences, the employment status of the candidates enrolled as well as the on-line delivery of the programs have the potential to restrict the diversity of the experiences. With this in mind, advanced programs have incorporated coursework to specifically address these proficiencies including the Ed Leadership focus project and Sociological InventorySPED 710 required by the Masters in Early Childhood, Middle & Secondary and School Psychology, SEDU 702 required by the Masters in Middle & Secondary, and the Reading Clinic / Migrant Education Program and READ 708 in the Reading Program.

 3b. Training and Evaluation of Clinical Faculty: Training is conducted by the OCST for clinical faculty acting as mentors for student teachers. Similar training is conducted for clinical faculty participating as mentors for those in SEDU 475. Training is also conducted by the Educational Leadership Program for supervisors. Training, however, is not systematic throughout the Unit. Similarly, due to the delicate nature of P-12 partnerships and the consistent demand for clinical faculty, evaluation of clinical faculty is not completed systematically.  The Unit depends on the feedback from district administrators and University supervisors to provide information on the appropriateness of the clinical faculty beyond meeting the minimum criteria for serving in this capacity.  A clinical faculty survey has been developed from which demographic and other data can be gleaned.

Collaboration with P-12 Schools on program design. During the Fall 2011 semester, the Dean of Education established EPAC which meets biannually or more often as needed. The partnership includes area superintendents, the intermediate unit director, special education directors, and designees. The conversations are invigorating, informative, and in the true spirit of collaboration. Examples of such discussions can be seen in Exhibit 3.3.a. (EPAC agendas and notes from SPED 7-12 meeting).

As this report reflects, the Unit is highly successful in providing a variety of field experiences that develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of our candidates that will allow them to have a positive impact on the learning of all students.  In order to be Target on all aspects of this standard, the Unit must move toward systematically collecting and analyzing data on all experiences, using the data to guide program improvement, and developing a mutually acceptable plan for the selection and evaluation of clinical faculty. The new governance model supports this effort by creating a culture of assessment and a renewed commitment to using data to continuously improve all preparation programs.