A Good Report Card

Education gets high marks from state’s review team

After the best part of a year and enough paper to sheathe the Pentagon, the Education Department has gotten a positive rating from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which sent a team of site visitors to campus April 19.

“Actually, all the work is done ahead,” says Sandy Fluck, professor of education and department chair.

To prepare for the visit, each member of the 15-person team—faculty from state universities and private colleges, as well as teachers from two school districts—received an inch-thick binder about his or her specialty area. (Moravian offers 12 subject areas for teachers, as well as a certificate program in English as a second language.) The team leader, Kim Long of Shippensburg University, and the PDE liaison, Clifton Edwards, got the Big Binder, which is almost five inches thick and contains everything you ever wanted to know about education at Moravian. Maybe more.

Education is not the largest department on campus— surprisingly, since the College is known for training and graduating teachers. But they get their degrees in a subject area; there is no B.A. in education. The extensive education courses taken by these students (enough, in fact, for a second major) are required for teaching certification. Secondary-ed students and those in the K-12 disciplines of music, art, and foreign languages major in their subject area (e.g., history, math, science) and minor in education.

The department has just six faculty and a full-time field coordinator, though it has more adjunct instructors (25) than any department except music. But it also has the largest outside “faculty”: the many teachers and administrators in local school districts who assist, supervise, and evaluate the College’s student-teachers at every stage of their experience.

Certainly Moravian has the most active education department in the Lehigh Valley, if you count all the students enrolled in education courses to prepare for a teaching career.

Muhlenberg College, which has the closest program to Moravian’s, has more education faculty but fewer students. It faces state evaluation next year and sent representatives to Moravian during the PDE visit to get a sneak peek at the process.

Moravian also has an extensive preparation for student teachers, which it instituted long before any other school and which contains more components than any other program. “I think our field experiences are more extensive than any other college’s,” says Sandy.

Students who are interested in becoming teachers have a field experience at the end of their freshman year or the start of their sophomore year. This gives them the chance to go into the classroom and see what teachers face on a daily basis; and it gives students an early opportunity to decide whether teaching really is their career choice.

As juniors or first-semester seniors, they have pre-student teaching, allowing them to take on more of the responsibilities of teaching. Then there is the student-teaching experience itself, which requires completion of all education coursework with a 3.0 grade average, as well as a 3.0 in the academic major and overall.

In the defense of its curriculum, Sandy says, the department included not only many, many pages of description and support but also an “evidence room” (the largest laboratory classroom in the Priscilla Payne Hurd Academic Complex) filled with posters and crafts, classroom projects, and an array of faculty publications, to emphasize the variety and quality of instruction throughout the College.

The PDE team came to town on a Sunday, met with students and faculty on Monday, and were gone by Tuesday morning. But they left word that the department passed with flying colors. “There will be concerns and recommendations—there always are,” Sandy says. The official report will come in the fall, but in the meantime the education faculty can relax in the knowledge that they’re doing most things right.

All they need is to keep on doing them for five years, when the next state evaluation comes along.

Sandy has kept a copy of the Big Binder and each of the subject area binders, but in hunting for documents during this interview, she sometimes came up short. “There were so many things I already flipped [threw away],” she says with a smile, “bcause I got tired of it all!”

May 4, 2004

A Good Report Card:
Education Department passes state review with flying colors.

What a Racket:
Jason Toedter '04 is first ever from Moravian to win conference men's singles championship.

Six Degrees of Separation:
There's another branch of the von Allmen family -- also in Business and Economics.

Bach for More:
The 2004 Bethlehem Bach Festival features composer-in-residence Larry Lipkis in four roles.

Award:
Jon Conrad wins award from Red Cross.
Datebook:
Campus calendar.
Gaudeamus:
Faculty/staff/student accomplishments.