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By Lisa Stratton
UW-RF University Communications

OCT. 21, 2005-- Some might be under the impression that all education students have to do is pass courses like “Advanced Crayola Studies” or “Issues in Dr. Seuss Literature,” but entrance into UW-River Falls' teacher education program requires rigorous academic and professional standards set down by the college and Wisconsin law.

October marked the deadline for admission to the College of Education and Professional Studies teacher education program for spring 2006. Students applying for admission must complete a questionnaire to be reviewed by the Dean of Student Development and Campus Diversity office. They are also required to have two recommendations from faculty members and a plan sheet with their advisor's signature. A current criminal background check must also be in the student's file.

Other standards required to be in the education program include a minimum GPA of 2.75 and a completion of 40 credits. Students must also receive at least a B in Speech 101, and at least a B and a C in English 111 and 112. Getting at least a C in TED 211, Educational Psychology, is also a must.

Education students also take a test called the Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), or Praxis I, before applying for admission to the program. Required minimum scores on this test are a 175 in Reading, a 174 in Writing, and a 173 in Math. Students can also opt to take a computer-based version of this test.

"You have to put forth 110 percent of your effort," says senior Kara Coughlin, who was admitted to the program the spring of her sophomore year. "You have to make sure that you are on top of your studies—there's not a lot of room for procrastination. We have to be classroom-focused—we affect children's lives."

Coughlin, a member of the women's golf team and elementary education major, says she had no trouble at all with the admission process. She also has some good advice for those getting ready to apply.
"You hear a lot of scary information about it, and you just have to take one step at a time," says Coughlin. "Plan in advance. It will reduce your stress level."

UW-River Falls' admission to education process is unique among most other education schools around the country. According to Mike Martin, academic advisor and database manager for the College of Education and Professional Studies, most colleges use the "funnel approach." This method admits large numbers of students into the program and slowly allows competition, in areas such as GPA, to weed out students who achieve less. This results in students having completed semesters worth of wasted credits.

UW-River Falls, however, uses what Martin calls a "stove-pipe model." This approach admits only a certain number of students at the beginning of their college careers as the department will be able to handle until the completion of a degree. This is the main reason why it is hard to transfer into the education program from another major.

"We're not out to get rid of students," says Martin. "We have high standards, but we're not unrealistic."
State law heavily influences teacher education program admission requirements. Wisconsin law PI 34, which went into effect on July 1, 2004, details teacher standards, program implementation, program approval, and appellate regulations, among other areas.

"Most students don't realize that our policies are state regulated," says Martin. "The department didn't just make these up."

Students who are denied admission receive detailed information on the appeals process. The appeals committee then reviews their complaint and makes a decision. State law allows up to 10 percent of those who appeal to be exempted from one requirement. The UW-River Falls appeals committee typically uses anywhere from 7 percent to 10 percent of those exemptions.

"We try not to let a single factor keep a student from the program. A student who really has issues with the requirements will typically self-select themselves out," says Martin.

Those who do not meet the minimum grade requirements can be exempted by showing proficiency in other areas.

Eight faculty members serve on the appeals committee. They come from all areas of campus where education students might be involved, such as agriculture and art.

Faye Perkins, chair of the Health and Human Performance department and women's softball coach, has been a member of the appeals committee for approximately eight years.

"I got involved because many Health and Human Performance people are involved in teaching, and I felt that someone should be representing our majors on the committee," says Perkins.

Perkins says that the admission process usually takes about two weeks after the deadline, and the appeals process another two weeks after that. Appeals have to happen quickly because otherwise students will not be able to register for the right classes in time.

"I've mostly seen people be denied on the basis of undergraduate GPA and/or Praxis test scores, but there are also other reasons someone could be denied, such as documented unprofessional behavior," says Perkins.

However, unprofessional behavior problems usually come with GPA and test score problems as well, according to Perkins.

Perkins also says that it is sometimes a very difficult decision for her.

"It's not a decision we take lightly,” says Perkins. “What we decide has an impact on student's lives. We have a professional responsibility. If they're denied, we try to direct them into another area of study."


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:06:39 Central Daylight Time

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