Indiana Consortium of Education Deans
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July 25, 2002

Deans promise collaboration to tackle education issues

INDIANAPOLIS – The deans of education at Indiana's four-year public universities have signed an agreement to respond to the needs of Hoosier students, educators and schools.

A resolution signed today (Thursday, 7/25) at the Indiana Statehouse by the Indiana Consortium of Education Deans brings together the resources of Ball State University, Indiana State University, Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Southern Indiana. The presidents of the universities previously endorsed the resolution.

"We prepare approximately three-fourths of the state's educators, and we feel an obligation to focus more power on the issues that face our children," said Jack Maynard, dean of Indiana State's School of Education. "This is not a reaction to any one thing; rather it's the result of a commitment of the deans to work together to improve the quality of education in the state."

The resolution states the consortium has been formed to: advance, stimulate, improve and coordinate programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; collaborate in assisting preschool-12 schools address critical issues; and work in partnership with state policy-makers and others to ensure a preschool-university educational system that is responsive to the needs of the state of Indiana.

The deans say the resolution formalizes a working relationship they have been building over the past year, and they say ideas they already have shared on transition-to-teaching programs give them hope for future success.

Transition-to-teaching programs try to address teacher shortages by allowing non-teachers with math or science degrees to take a specific number of courses and gain a teaching certificate. Teachers without special education certification can also gain it through the program.

"We believe the transition-to-teaching programs should have highly qualified candidates, an intensive field-based cohort model, a master teacher mentor, a rigorous admissions process and programs based on research and performance standards," said Roy Weaver, dean of Ball State's Teachers College. "We've agreed to this set of principles, which provided guidance to the development of our individual, institutional programs and should make them stronger."

The deans have also discussed ways to develop teaching programs aligned with performance-based teaching standards.

"As the state has adopted new performance-based standards for licensure, we have all undergone major reform in our teacher preparation programs, said Jerry Peters, interim dean of Purdue University's School of Education.

"Although each institution may have different methods of preparing their teacher education students for the classroom, we must all adhere to the same performance-based standards for licensure, so it is imperative that we collaborate as progress and change is made to the licensure framework," Peters said.

The consortium will not just be a reactive body. The deans say they want to lend their expertise and the resources of their institutions when lawmakers consider future policy changes.

"By showing unity and expressing determination in achieving a goal or impacting a decision, the deans can multiply their individual impact and influence," said Tom Pickering, dean of the Bower-Surheinrich School of Education and Human Services at the University of Southern Indiana.

The deans have not set guidelines for measuring the consortium's success, but it most likely will be measured on an issue-by-issue basis.

"Perhaps an indicator of success is simply the extent to which we can implement joint initiatives that take advantage of the strengths each of our programs bring to the effort," said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of Indiana University's School of Education. "For example, we may pursue grant opportunities jointly where one institution provides evaluation expertise, another brings program development expertise and a third provides access to technology.

"Later on we can measure success through user satisfaction surveys, new joint programs developed, research dollars brought to the state, and other traditional indicators of institutional performance," Gonzalez said.

The most important indicator will be how students are performing in the classroom.

"We must find ways to strategically bolster efforts to increase student achievement, whether through special school partnerships, research on experimental programs with promise or meaningful professional development planned in collaboration with teachers and school leaders," Weaver said. "Indiana's schools are making great progress, and this consortium will help sustain and propel that positive improvement."

Sources: Jack Maynard, (812) 237-2919, soemay@isugw.indstate.edu

Roy Weaver, (765) 285-5251, rweaver@bsu.edu

Jerry Peters, (765) 494-2336, peters@purdue.edu

Tom Pickering, (812) 464-1811, tpickeri@usi.edu

Gerardo Gonzalez, (812) 856-8001, gonzalez@indiana.edu

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photograph of the resolution signing is available at http://www.bsu.edu/news.