California State University, Long Beach
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Benefits Of CED Program Evident

Published: March 6, 2017

SchoolsFirst FCU’s (SFFCU) support of clinical practice models at CSULB continues to expand.

In addition to the SFFCU Urban Teacher Education Academy (UTEACH), the College of Education’s (CED) Urban Dual Credential Program (UDCP) is now supported by SchoolsFirst FCU’s 2015 five-year $500,000 grant.

With its first cohort of students getting ready to graduate this May, the UDCP’s two-year clinical practice model is clearly a success. This new program allows students to earn both a multiple subject credential and special education credential in two years.

“In the original UTEACH program students have one year of clinical practice at a school site, but in our program they have two years,” said program coordinator Cara Richards-Tutor, a professor in the College of Education (CED). “The first year the teacher candidates are in a school two days a week and the second year they are there full time doing student teaching.” Also helping to develop the program were CED interim dean Shireen Pavri, and professors Leslie Reese, Shelley Xu and Nat Hansuvadha.

In a more traditional teacher credentialing program scenario, students get only one semester of actual classroom experience, so the two-year model provides a number of experiences students would never have. That second year makes a huge difference.

“It’s a really exciting program and I feel very passionate about what we are doing,” said Richards-Tutor. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s also rewarding. Our students are amazing.”

According to Richards-Tutor, during the first year of the two-year program, students have specific clinical experiences teaching lessons in reading and writing, developing behavior plans for students who have behavior difficulties, conducting a reading intervention for struggling readers.

The second year, however, they become immersed in the school to which they are assigned.

“They have a specific teacher they are assigned to so they develop a professional relationship with that teacher and become part of the school site,” said Richards-Tutor. “If you went to the one of our UDCP school sites, you probably wouldn’t know who the students from Cal State Long Beach were and who the classroom teachers were because our students are part of the school community. They attend professional development activities with the teachers, including school site meetings and district trainings. They really become part of the school and the district. It’s a unique kind of experience that many students in traditional programs would not have.”

Though a bit hesitant to do so at first, liberal studies major Jamie Lopez is one of the CSULB students taking part in the program.

“Honestly, UDCP has been the best thing that I have been a part of,” Lopez said. “I remember considering the program and wondering if the extended clinical practice was really worth pushing back my graduation, but it was. I feel that this program has helped me grow more in two years than I have at any other point in my education.”

Another student, Tayla Dinh, agrees the program has been a tremendous boost to her.

“The two years of clinical practice/fieldwork is extremely beneficial for me,” said Dinh, also a liberal studies major. “Not only was I able to observe how teachers taught but I also became much more knowledgeable about district and school standards, policy and curriculum.

“The clinical practice/fieldwork has also provided me with the opportunity to observe and learn a great deal about the culture of the schools as well as the community that surrounds them,” she added. “I believe that getting to know the students as well as their families is both critical and essential to the entire experience and it has really helped me with my experiences in student teaching. Having been able to build quality relationships with the school, its staff, students and families has helped particularly in making me feel very comfortable, as if I am part of the school community.”

Currently, there are 30 students in the UDCP program teaching kindergarten through fifth grades. The initial cohort of 10 began in fall 2015 in the Little Lake City School District in Santa Fe Springs. The fall 2016 cohort of 20 students is in the Long Beach Unified School District. Another cohort of 20 will begin the program this coming fall. The goal is to have 20-25 students in each two-year cohort, so there would be 40-50 students in the program at any one time.

“Not only is this new to our college, but the elementary schools are not used to having a model like this where the student-teachers are in the classroom for so long,” said Richards-Tutor. “They also have to get used to that and there are a lot of logistics to work out with principals and teachers, but over time that will become more systematic. The longer the program is around, the more it will just become part of the day-to-day operations at the schools.

“We’ve had collaborations with these districts in the past and have had a lot of success with them,” she added. “They are very supportive of our students and this model so it’s just a natural fit for us to go there.”

After going through the two-year program, students are more marketable. They come out with two credentials from the state of California. They can teach in an elementary school in general education or they can teach in special education in any K-12 setting (e.g., resource specialist, inclusion specialist, special education classroom teacher). Having both credentials allows them to play many different roles within a school or district.

“Our goal,” said Richards-Tutor, “is to prepare teachers to meet the needs of all students.”