Shifts Emphasis In Courses For Educators
Sept. 16, 1999 -- The state's Standards of
Learning have not only changed the way public schools teach, they
have also prompted changes in how the University of Virginia delivers
its continuing education offerings to school personnel.
Continuing Education officials
have engaged in two major efforts to help school divisions meet
the state-mandated standards in mathematics, science, English, history
and social sciences, classroom technology applications, assessment
and instruction. They have increased efforts to provide courses
and workshops on-site in school districts, and they have placed
greater emphasis on statewide conferences. As a consequence, they
have worked with teachers and administrators in nearly all of Virginias
132 school divisions.
1998-99 more than 7,400 public school educators enrolled in Continuing
Education courses to gain help in implementing the standards-based
curricula. Another 2,000 since 1996 have enrolled in Standards of
Learning-focused conferences, many planned collaboratively with
the Virginia Department of Education.
believe U.Va. was the first higher education institution in the
state to offer courses to assist school divisions in meeting the
SOLs," said associate dean Dennis "Skip" Parks.
gain an understanding of what help school districts would need,
Continuing Education representatives began meeting with Virginia
Department of Education officials in 1995, three years before the
first SOL test results were made public.
that there would be a tremendous need for districts to change their
curricula to meet the accountability-driven standards, Continuing
Education established in 1997 a Center for State and National Programs
for Educators, led by Nancy R. Iverson. A former public school administrator
who had watched the SOLs development closely, Iverson realized early
on what impact the standards would have.
offered our first workshop in 1995, and no one signed up! No one
seemed to appreciate just how challenging the SOL implementation
would be until the first round of test results were made public
in 1998," Iverson said. (Slightly over 2 percent of Virginia public
schools had passing SOL test results in 1998; last year 6.5 percent
had made the grade.)
and other Continuing Education representatives meet statewide with
school officials to learn what their needs are and to design programs
that meet those needs.
Standards of Learning Project is grounded in the principle that
U.Va. Continuing Education must redouble its efforts to partner
with school divisions to assist them in their efforts to align their
curricula with the SOLs, to implement research-based instructional
practices, and to make structural changes needed to meet requirements
of the Standards of Accreditation," Iverson said. (Schools
that do not have at least 70 percent of students pass the SOL tests
by 2007 will be denied accreditation.)
most popular course sequence in the SOL Project has been the certificate
program in classroom technology applications. More than 11,000 registrants
had been processed in the program through this summer.
earn a certificate, participants must complete six hours of credit
course work. "The beauty of the program is that as school personnel
acquire technology skills, courses can be customized to meet their
increased sophistication," said Parks.
for the technology courses has been unusually heavy at the Northern
Virginia Center, located in Falls Church, and at the Richmond Center.
Meet Other School Needs
help meet a critical shortage of special education teachers, Continuing
Education has worked closely with U.Va.'s Curry
School of Education to deliver its master's degree program in
special education. Programs are being offered in the Roanoke and
Northern Virginia Centers. U.Va. and Bridgewater College are also
jointly offering special education courses this fall.
Education has also increased its reading courses by more than 38
percent -- offering 56 courses this fall -- to help meet heavy demand
for teachers with advanced credentials in reading. Master's degree
programs in reading are currently available in Lynchburg, Richmond
and Northern Virginia; another program will begin soon in Shenandoah
County, and others are being developed.
Education and the Curry School are also working closely on a series
of four new courses in gifted education delivered at off-Grounds
locations. The courses are designed for classroom teachers seeking
an endorsement in gifted education.
more information, contact Skip Parks at (804) 982-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org
or Nancy Iverson at (804) 582-5107 or email@example.com.
Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857