Board of Regents

Education Committee Minutes - July 2011



University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, Wisconsin

July 14, 2011

Regent Crain convened the meeting of the Education Committee at 12:54 p.m.  Regents Crain, D. Davis, Evers, and Spector were present.  Regent Vásquez joined the meeting in progress.  Regent Crain welcomed the Provosts to the table.  Senior Vice President Rebecca Martin introduced to the Committee Greg Hutchins as the Interim Provost at UW-Extension. 

1.      Committee Consent Agenda

Regent Crain presented the minutes of the June 9, 2011, meeting of the Education Committee as the lone consent agenda item. 

2.      Presentation:  Innovation and Reform in Teacher Preparation in the UW System

In introducing the presentation on innovation and reform in teacher preparation in the UW

System, Regent Crain reminded the Committee that this was the third time in the past year that the Education Committee had engaged in discussion of issues pertaining to K-12 education, having already dedicated two of the Board’s “deep-dive” policy discussions to the topic.  She turned to Senior Vice President Martin to introduce the presenters and lead them in a panel discussion.

Senior Vice President Martin reviewed the territory the Committee had already covered on K-12 education, and the role the UW System plays in supporting it.  Last November, she said, the full Board was introduced by Regent Evers and others to the Common Core, the new state standards adopted by Wisconsin and other states to raise the expectations and the level of achievement for all school children to make them college and career ready.  In March, UW-Madison Professor Gloria Ladson Billings, the UW-Whitewater College of Education and Professional Studies Dean, and educators from several urban school districts led the Committee in a discussion of teacher preparation in the context of the state’s new urban education reality.

The panel today, continued Dr. Martin, would focus on a discussion of other teacher preparation reform efforts underway at UW Schools of Education, in partnership with local and regional districts and communities.  She encouraged the Education Committee to take pride in the attention it had paid throughout 2010-11 to the priority established last fall:  to engage with the More Graduates initiative through focused attention on student preparation, retention, and graduation across the entire PK-16 spectrum.  She cited the statistic that the UW System prepared over 60% of the educators in Wisconsin’s public school system, a statistic that came with enormous responsibility and which UW schools of education and colleges of arts and sciences took very seriously.  She also mentioned recent research reaffirming the importance of quality teachers in helping students achieve the outcomes so vital for success in a volatile world.

Senior Vice President Martin stated that the panel would be structured as an interactive discussion.  She then introduced the three panelists, each of whom represented programs with innovative approaches to preparing teachers for high-need areas in Wisconsin:  Michael Beeth, Professor and Director of the EXCEL Center at UW-Oshkosh; Tim Kaufman, Chair of the Professional Program in Education at UW-Green Bay; and Mary Hopkins-Best, Dean of the College of Education, Health & Human Services at UW-Stout.  Senior Vice President Martin also indicated that other deans of UW schools of education were present and would be able to participate as well in the discussion.

In response to Dr. Martin’s first question, Dr. Beeth described the act! program at UW-Oshkosh, which stood for Alternative Careers in Teaching and allowed non-traditional adult learners to receive credit for life experiences towards meeting licensure and other requirements.  The program focused on helping working professionals with bachelor’s degrees to achieve new careers teaching secondary-level mathematics or natural sciences in Wisconsin.  He explained the requirements of the program and the various ways in which participants received credit for their experiential learning as they moved through additional steps towards licensure. 

In response to a follow-up question from Senior Vice President Martin, Regent Evers addressed how DPI was working to advance alternative licensing options, including through prior-learning assessment.

Senior Vice President Martin asked Dean Hopkins-Best to explain how UW-Stout was working with various partners to meet the need for more math and science teachers.  Dean Hopkins-Best described a number of programs underway at UW-Stout to better prepare teachers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including:  a dual major B.S. degree in Technology and Science Education that also offered certification in STEM fields; a pre-engineering program through Project-Lead-the-Way; graduate-level online professional development coursework for practicing teachers; and partnerships with multiple CESAs and school districts working to integrate math and science curricula to align with Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards and help teachers increase their math and science content knowledge.  She also cited the impressive employment opportunities for students wanting to teach in agri-business and food science.

Senior Vice President Martin queried Dr. Kaufman about UW-Green Bay’s Master’s Degree in Applied Leadership for Teaching and Learning (MSAL), a program designed to help educators actively employed in PK-12 classrooms advance their expertise.  Dr. Kaufman mentioned several program features, which made it distinct from similar UW System programs, including:  work to prepare bilingual educators to meet the challenges of northeast Wisconsin’s changing demographics; its connection to UW-Green Bay’s signature Phuture Phoenix Program; its partnering with UW-Green Bay’s Education Center for First Nation Studies to graduate more Native American teachers; and its focus on partnering with the undergraduate teacher education program to provide effective clinical experiences for initial educators in area schools.  All of these initiatives demonstrate the MSAL program’s mission and foundation in addressing diversity and underserved student success in the context of the region’s rapidly changing demographics.

Senior Vice President Martin next asked the panelists to describe the kinds of assessment and the evidence they were collecting to determine the efficacy of their innovative programs.  Dean Hopkins-Best responded that the university’s standard assessments were showing growth in math and science content mastery for UW-Stout’s teacher education participants.  Dr. Beeth cited good scores on the Praxis 2 test for the practicing teachers in his program, as well as an assessment focus on pedagogy since the participants in his program already had good content mastery.  He also mentioned comparative data that the Educational Testing Service would soon be releasing on Praxis test results that would prove helpful in assessing his program.  Dr. Kaufman added that his program was starting to use e-portfolios.

In response to a question from Regent Davis, Dr. Beeth answered that students in the act! Program came from all over the state.  In response to a question from Regent Evers about whether people were shying away from career changes into teaching in the current political environment, Dr. Beeth said that neither the undergraduate nor the graduate act! program was feeling an impact yet.  He described the extensive interviews the act! program conducted with prospective enrollees to make sure they really wanted to do such an intensive program.  He also commented that his program referred to its students as “home-comers,” not “career-changers.”

Regent Vásquez’s question about “Teach for America” as a kind of alternative teacher placement program elicited significant discussion.  Dean Hopkins-Best indicated that UW-Stout worked to attract students into its teacher education program as the most effective way to enter teaching.  Julie Underwood, Dean of the School of Education at UW-Madison, observed that her institution served as a strong pipeline for both “Teach for America” and the Peace Corps.  She noted that UW-Madison’s teacher education programs were competitive and turned away many students who wanted to be admitted.  Some of the students who were not admitted would seek out “Teach for America.”  She also cited research showing that “Teach for America” placed some people who were ill-prepared as teachers into difficult educational settings and that these teachers did not always do well.  UW-Madison’s goal was to place well-prepared graduates into classrooms.

Senior Vice President Martin then asked the panelists to respond to the criticism that teacher education programs were out-of-date and out-of-touch in addressing the nation’s educational challenges.  While the innovative examples before the Committee seemed to refute that, what about the traditional programs in UW schools of education?  Dr. Kaufman replied that there was a great deal of exchange between the innovative and the traditional programs at UW-Green Bay, as well as professional development and continuing education offered to practicing teachers.  Dean Hopkins-Best noted that the line between the college and the K-12 classrooms for teacher education students was blurred since they placed their students in classrooms early and throughout their degree programs.  Dr. Beeth responded that while there was some initial resistance by UW-Oshkosh education faculty in working online with the act! program, the faculty now greatly appreciated working with the “alternative” students, who already had good content mastery and needed help with pedagogy preparation.

UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells asked Dr. Beeth to address the federal funding which underwrote the act! program.  Dr. Beeth described several sources of federal funding, including from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education, that were not only much appreciated but also vital to the program’s offering and the support of its students.

Regent Davis mentioned programs like Project-Lead-the-Way, which, from her experience, seemed to enhance student engagement and achievement in STEM programs, including for urban students.  She asked the panelists how they trained teachers to make students excited about subjects like math and science.  Dr. Beeth agreed that this was an important goal and could pose a challenge for already well-educated people who came to teaching from other careers and for whom content came easily—as in the act! program—and who then were placed in actual classrooms with a huge range of student abilities, learning styles, and backgrounds.  Dean Hopkins-Best referred to the project-based pedagogy training UW-Stout teacher education students had, which was designed to lead towards engaged and excited K-12 students in science and math.

Observing that the vigorous discussion spoke both to the topic’s value—and to the fact that its surface had barely been scratched—Senior Vice President Martin thanked the panelists.

3.      Regent Policy Document Review:  RPD 7-1 – Board of Regents Undergraduate Transfer Policy

In moving to the consideration of a revised Regent Policy Document (RPD) on

undergraduate transfer, Regent Vásquez reminded Committee members that in June, they had heard a sequence of presentations on undergraduate transfer in the UW System, culminating in the Committee’s endorsement of revisions to the UW System transfer policy contained in Academic Information Series (ACIS) 6.0 and 6.2.  The revised Regent policy the Committee was being asked to approve—RPD 7-1—was based on the revisions to the ACIS documents.  He turned to Senior Vice President Martin to explain the key differences between the Regent and the System policy.

In presenting the revisions to RPD 7-1, Senior Vice President Martin reviewed the process by which all RPDs were being reassessed, as directed by the Board’s leadership.  The revised Regent transfer policy followed the new format for RPDs, and, like the revised System policy, it sought to be more student-centered, responsive and accountable to Wisconsin in the second decade of the 21st century, and to address the changing practice of UW institutions.  It did so by making an enduring policy statement addressing the UW System as a whole, and setting out fundamental principles as a basis for action for UW institutions.  Further, she continued, it directed all readers to the System policy—ACIS 6.0 and 6.2—which, as the Committee learned in June, had been revised by a systemwide committee composed of UW System and campus experts working on transfer, and which articulated the guidelines, procedures, and administrative practice for how the Regent policy would be implemented at all UW institutions.  While the Committee had already taken action to remove several policies from the RPDs that were obsolete, approval of the revised RPD 7-1 would constitute the Committee’s first opportunity to make more substantive changes to Regent policy.  Regent Davis noted that she liked the revised policy’s brevity and clarity.

I.1.d.:  It was moved by Regent Crain, seconded by Regent Davis, that, upon recommendation of the of the President of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents approves the changes to Regent Policy Documents RPD

7-1, “University of Wisconsin System Undergraduate Transfer Policy.”

The resolution PASSED unanimously.

Before moving to the report of the Senior Vice President, Regent Evers expressed his appreciation for Regent Crain’s leadership as Chair of the Education Committee, which had formally come to an end.  In acknowledging the applause that followed, Regent Crain thanked her colleagues for the privilege of serving as chair, and UW System staff for their help in supporting her over the last two years.

4.      Report of the Senior Vice President

a.       LEAP/Inclusive Excellence at the Institutions:  UW-Superior

Senior Vice President Martin introduced Faith Hensrud, Interim Provost at UW-Superior, to share with the Committee the ways in which her institution was working to advance Inclusive Excellence.  Dr. Hensrud described the work that had begun in 2009 with the establishment of the Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Task Force, charged with developing a plan for UW-Superior.  In Summer, 2010, the campus held a kick-off event, led by Alma Clayton-Pedersen (a consultant affiliated with the Association of American Colleges and Universities), and followed by further focused conversation and activities that fall.  Since then, UW-Superior has held a number of additional activities, funded mini-grants, and woven Inclusive Excellence into the institution’s strategic planning with department and units to make clear that Inclusive Excellence was not an add-on but an integral part of how decision-making and planning took place.  She mentioned a new statement on diversity used for hiring, and that the University was also reviewing its Equity Scorecard and Climate Study data to inform the implementation of Inclusive Excellence at UW-Superior.

In response to a question from Regent Davis regarding the most significant challenges and opportunities to the work, Provost Hensrud answered that they were one and the same:  staff turn-over.  UW-Superior, she explained, had hired 37 new faculty in the last two years, out of a total of 127.  In response to question from Regent Vásquez about the understanding of Inclusive Excellence held by new hires, Provost Hensrud replied that the campus discussed diversity and equity with all potential hires during the interview process.  She said that, overall, new faculty members seemed excited about the work.  Inclusive Excellence was referenced in their first-year evaluations and they were intentionally invited into the planning and implementation underway.  UW-La Crosse Provost Kathleen Enz Finken added that she, too, had hired many new staff in the last couple of years.  Her experience was that the new faculty held a deeper understanding and awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion, calling their activity and involvement a “groundswell” on her campus.  Committee members expressed their enthusiasm for this news. 

Senior Vice President Martin expressed her hope that the new interim Senior Vice President would keep this work on the front burner.  In thanking Provost Hensrud for the presentation, Regent Crain stated that she felt the LEAP/Inclusive Excellence features the Committee had been hearing all year were very important.

b.      Farewell Remarks from Senior Vice President Martin

In recognition of her ultimate report as Senior Vice President and her departure from the UW System to take on a new role with the U.S. Education Delivery Institute in Washington, DC, Rebecca Martin delivered farewell remarks.  She began by saying that it had been a real privilege to serve the Education Committee, which she called the heart of the Board and the place where the most important Regent decisions were made—those directly affecting the education of students.  The Education Committee was also the place where all of the stakeholders served by the Office of Academic Affairs came together, including Regents, Provosts, Faculty and Academic Staff Representatives, Student Leaders, and Chancellors.  In reviewing the work of the Committee in the four-and-a-half years since she began serving as Senior Vice President, Dr. Martin commented on the tough decisions the Committee had been faced with, the opportunities for real improvement in the quality of the UW educational experience created through the Committee’s focus on liberal education (LEAP) and Inclusive Excellence, and the ongoing priorities of increasing access and closing the achievement gap through More Graduates.  She expressed her confidence that the Committee would continue to hold these values high as it moved forward with its essential work. 

Senior Vice President Martin also took the opportunity to recognize Regent Crain for her leadership as Chair of the Education Committee, citing her wisdom and thoughtful guidance in steering the Committee over many difficult hurdles, and her inclusiveness of others—especially the Provosts—in the Committee’s deliberations.  She concluded by saying how much she has valued working with and knowing the Regents.

The Education Committee, Provosts, UW System staff, and others in the room responded to Senior Vice President Martin’s remarks with a standing ovation.  On behalf of the Committee and the Provosts, respectively, Regent Vásquez and UW-Oshkosh Provost Lane Earns expressed their deep appreciation for her leadership.

5.      Full Board Consent Agenda

Resolution I.1.d. was referred to the consent agenda of the full Board of Regents at its Friday, July 15, 2011, meeting. 

The meeting adjourned at 2:03 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,
Rebecca Karoff, Secretary, Education Committee