The Education Committee of the Board of Regents established PK-16 initiatives and partnerships as a priority for the 2000-01 academic year. The regents’ focus acknowledges the UW System’s responsibility for and vested interest in PK-16 reforms, including ensuring teacher quality and setting clear and consistent expectations for student learning. The regents’ PK-16 strategy provides a framework to coordinate existing efforts such as articulation and transfer with Wisconsin Technical College System, competency-based admissions, teacher education program changes, technology in teacher education, and others. This regent initiative will call upon the chancellors of the system institutions and the president of the system to lead an assertive action agenda to ensure that the University of Wisconsin System is a full partner in a seamless educational system for the state of Wisconsin.
This year the regents have discussed several critical issues related to PK-16: teacher supply and demand, the impact of PK-12 standards on higher education, technology and teacher education, local and state PK-16 councils. The board has already acted upon two of these critical issues. In December 2000, the board asked President Lyall to form a state PK-16 council with State Superintendent Benson. That council has been formed, has held its initial meeting, and has determined a preliminary agenda for its first year. The board also acted upon the critical issue of technology in teacher education at its February 2001 meeting. Upon reviewing a report on the status of technology in teacher education, the regents called upon UW System to (1) establish a list of best practices in instructional technology for teachers; (2) disseminate these best practices to UW institutions; (3) require that institutions report as part of the IT Plan in October 2001 how they are incorporating these best practices into teacher education programs; (4) refer the report, Technology in Teacher Education in the University of Wisconsin System to the PK-16 Leadership Council for its consideration; and (5) work with DPI, TEACH, WAICU, and WTCS to pursue a statewide vision for technology in teacher education. System Administration is working with the institutions to fulfill the regents’ expectations.
Approval of resolution I.1.b.(2) directing each UW System Chancellor to work collaboratively with PK-12 and other postsecondary education leaders to develop a well-articulated plan for achieving local quality PK-16 education; and to report plans, initiatives and achievements to the Board in June 2002.
With this PK-16 initiative, the University of Wisconsin System joins other systems throughout the country that have demonstrated leadership in partnerships to improve access to and the quality of education. The American Council on Education’s report, To Touch the Future: Transforming the Way Teachers are Taught, notes that strengthening teacher
preparation is an essential element to improving the nation’s schools. ACE calls for “decisive actions by college and university presidents if American higher education is to fulfill its responsibilities.” The National Association of System Heads (NASH) notes that interlocking
commitments from elementary, secondary and postsecondary institutions will be necessary so all students can achieve at high levels and be prepared “to meet the challenges of work and citizenship.” State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) is encouraging state strategies that support successful student transitions from secondary to postsecondary education.
In addition to the national movement toward systemic PK-16 reform, there is a state context that informs the regents’ agenda. Teacher education is changing, with sweeping changes in how teachers will be prepared from initial certification to continuing professional development. UW System and UW institutions are working to align Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards with university curriculum, assessments, and teacher education. The University System and the Technical College System are building upon their transfer and articulation agreement to develop more systemic articulation agreements to facilitate student transitions between systems. The UW System is committed to preparing a diverse, well-educated workforce for the new global economy.
Joe Wyatt, chancellor of Vanderbilt University, asserts that “our nation’s future depends on a high-quality public education system and a superior force of educators. There is no more important work.” Higher education’s most prominent impact on the quality of PK-12 education is the quality of the teachers that it prepares (note that “teachers” refers to all public school educators: classroom teachers, administrators, and counselors). According to Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor of Education at Stanford University, “a growing body of research indicates that teacher expertise is one of the most important factors in determining student achievement.” In her article, Educating America’s Teachers: The Academy’s Greatest Failure or its Most Important Future, she highlights the importance of teacher education and university’s role:
It is important to note the continuum of teacher preparation and continuing professional development, and the significant role that the university has at all stages of a teacher’s career.
The UW institutions have significant responsibility for initial teacher preparation, providing approximately 79 percent of the teachers hired annually by Wisconsin public schools. The
UW institutions play a significant role in providing mentoring and support for beginning teachers, in cooperation with school districts. Moreover, through graduate programs and continuing education programs, the university is a major provider of teacher professional development.
In summary, if teachers are not well prepared, then student achievement suffers and students are not prepared for postsecondary education. More and more jobs in a technology-based, global economy will require workers who have at least some postsecondary education. If students are to remain in the educational pipeline, universities must work with public schools and other postsecondary partners to ensure high quality teachers.
The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents asserts its commitment to PK-16 partnerships through a commitment to principles described in the accompanying document that respond to critical issues in each of the following areas:
1. Collaboration and Partnerships
2. Teacher Quality, Supply and Demand
3. Technology in Teacher Education
4. Curriculum Alignment and Accountability
It is important to note that the principles endorse a systemwide strategy for a major PK-16 initiative. However, it is equally important that as individual institutions plan and implement their responses, that they be enabled to do so within the context of their institutional missions and unique features. Institutions must have the flexibility to respond appropriately to local and regional needs. One model or approach will not serve all. It should be noted that several of the strategy alternatives proposed are already occurring. For example:
· The Wisconsin PK-16 Leadership Council has been formed;
· Four Model PK-16 academies are being developed;
· UW institutions are participating in the implementation of new teacher education rules;
· UW institutions are working to recruit more diverse students into teaching;
· UW System is working with DPI to produce accurate supply and demand data;
· UW institutions are developing alternate paths to certification;
· Technology and Teacher Education is being incorporated into the IT Plan;
· UW System is working with DPI, WTCS and private colleges to align and articulate curriculum.
In spite of this progress, the regent actions call for UW System Administration
UW institutions to build on these initiatives and to make PK-16 partnerships a university-wide commitment. To ensure the entire university’s commitment, the regents call on the chancellors of the UW institutions to lead these efforts.
PK-16 Principles and Actions
PK-16 Principles Planning Framework