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Mild/Moderate Preliminary Credential

California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Accreditation

CCTC Accreditation

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1. Program Summary

1.1 Program Summary

University Overview

Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) is a not-for-profit institution of higher education, established nearly 100 years ago, providing a first-class college education to members of the greater Los Angeles community, with a significant student enrollment of low-income, first-generation college attendees. A Hispanic-Serving Institution, MSMU presently offers academic programs of instruction leading to Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate (Doctor of Physical Therapy or Clinical Psychology (PsyD)), primarily through traditional classroom-based delivery modality, from two campuses (Chalon and Doheny) in the City of Los Angeles.

Since 1960, Mount Saint Mary's University has offered coeducational graduate programs that offer masters degrees and attract women and men of all ages, religious backgrounds, and professional interests to the University's Doheny Campus. MSMU currently has 11 active graduate programs, 9 of which are at the Masters level, and 2 at the Doctoral level. MSMU enrolls approximately 900 students in graduate programs.

The Education Department serves undergraduate and graduate students seeking credentials and/or degrees. Many of our graduate students are already teaching in local Catholic Schools as they work toward credentials and masters. All candidates take classes together, despite coming from different pathways. Our aim is for candidates to be able to understand course material from multiple perspectives. Candidates who are currently in classrooms offer insights that demonstrate the theories in practical application. All preliminary credential students take foundational courses together. Thus, allowing communications between those teaching or planning to teach in elementary, secondary, or education specialist positions and sets them up for collaborations as practicing educators. 

Within the Education Department, the Education Specialist Program consists of two specialty areas: Mild/Moderate & DHH. Dr. Diana Taylor is the University’s director for the credential and the graduate degree program. Administration for the DHH Program is shared with Dr. Bridget Scott-Weich, of the John Tracy Clinic. These programs share coursework and collaborative activities with the General Education programs in the same department at the University. Program design and academic planning is often conducted between directors within the department, during weekly meetings.

Program Design

Leadership within the credential program: In 2011, the general education directors made a specific request to enhance all credential programs by expanding the theory and practice to include more special education sources. The in-service teaching candidates had repeatedly requested to have a broader understanding of how to meet the needs of all students in their classrooms. Thus, as the new Education Specialist program was designed, all education programs directors collaborated to align Education Specialist content into the current coursework. Typically, most preliminary Ed Specialist candidates experience the instruction of an education specialist professor and gen ed colleagues in at least one course during each of their six-semester credential program sequence. In an inverse position, this collaborative structure provided the educational specialist candidates the opportunity to acquire a rich foundation in the broad spectrum of general education content. As a result, all candidates experience the shared skills and talents of their peers. Each grade level range and disciplinary subject unfold through: discussion sessions shared activities and collaborative projects. Thus, candidates gain respect for all educators and the challenges that each student brings to the classroom.

Four specialty courses and many unique supervision opportunities provide the Ed Specialist candidates specific training on how to meet the service demands and learning needs of the mild/moderate student. Weekly program meetings prompt Directors to redesign and enhance coursework for continual improvements and the necessary course alterations, to keep the instruction current and effective.

Communication within the credential program and with the institution: The new program design of 2012, has basically remained the same throughout the past decade. As the new credential design of 2018 unfolded, we discovered a very close alignment to the current program, as it existed. We are currently adapting to the new 2022-23 regulations.

A conscious effort by the faculty has addressed the spirit of what it means to serve our community well, which links us to the heart of our founders, The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet. The Sisters have attended our meetings and shared the background and service of their work. We are currently working closely with other departments on anti-racist teaching: how to identify, practice and teach. 

Structure of coursework and field experiences in the credential program: Candidates in preliminary programs generally share five foundational courses. After which, three professional courses are shared with the elementary program where gen ed and special ed content is carefully crafted. During the final stages of the sequence, education specialist participate in four additional professional courses highlighting areas of specialty and authorizations. Related supervision courses support credential completion requirements and clinical practice hours. This part time program consist of six consecutive semesters: fall and spring are evening courses, summer classes are held on weekends. 

A specific highlight is noted in EDU 256: Language and Literacy course. A Gen Ed expert, works collaboratively with an Ed Specialist faculty member to model co-teaching skills during two thirds of the course. Candidates express that this is a successful model and an inspiring effort for their career.

All faculty members maintain an open channel of communications regarding: course content, textbooks, university services and candidate performance. The program directors redesign or revise procedures as necessary, or as desired. Candidates are advised during each fall and spring semester, or upon request.

Program modifications over the recent two years: During the past three years all Ed Specialist faculty have modified old course standards to the new TPE alignments of their course content. Each team member was able to effectively connect their content to the new state regulations. Preparation for EDU 209A/B will be implemented beginning Fall 2022 in order for candidates to meet the TPA requirement. 

Means for Stakeholder Input: Careful attention and rich discussion is generated with faculty members to utilize data related to the candidate: performance outcomes, criticisms and expressed appreciation. Collaborative decisions evolve and are acted upon by each faculty member. When appropriate, we work with other university departments and service providers in our area. New procedures of operation and/or documentation are established when concerns arise. Proactive actions are taken as we grow and evolve as a department and university.

Advisory meetings are held annually. During the fall semester, local administrators, teachers, parents and a several candidates are included in a meeting to discuss current trends, local concerns, and candidate priorities. These participants are often inspired to maintain a close relationship with us in order to contribute to our programs. A second advisory session is conducted every December with all adjunct faculty and university mentors. The focus of this united effort is related to the leadership and program design as it is implemented by the team. Community members are updated on all current trends, program functions and state requirements. Their contributions aid us to refocus our vision and identify important new practices, all of which reflect their experiences in the field and the ability to problem solve, such as meeting the social justice needs of ADS students.

Course of Study (Curriculum and Field Experience)

Description of the sequence of coursework: A candidate in the Mild/Moderate Program typically completes the of sequence courses over a period of six consecutive semesters. As a part-time program, Mild/moderate candidates take their courses in the evenings. Fieldwork hours, however, occur during the PK-12 academic hours. The DHH program is an exception as a full-time program with fieldwork and courses offered throughout the day. A new candidate for MM may begin coursework at the beginning of any semester during the year. DHH candidates all begin together as a cohort. During their course of studies, candidates are advised and closely monitored during the fall and spring semesters. An individualized Ed Plan is maintained in order for the candidate to prepare for the successful completion of their credential. The plan may be altered to meet the candidates needs as required. 

Coordination of coursework with fieldwork: Candidates participate in field experiences each semester. There are 200 hours of fieldwork opportunities planned and prepared for the candidate. All candidates in the Preliminary Programs initiate a Fieldwork log during their first semester as directed by faculty. They maintain the log as they document each experience. The log must be completed and approved by faculty before they start their supervised teaching experience.

Type of Coursework in Critical areas: Placements for the supervision experience require multiple opportunities for candidates to engage in the challenges of educating students in the twenty-first century. Language, cultural, socioeconomic, social-emotional and specific learning influences are recognized and addressed. A placement must offer candidates the opportunity to encounter English Learners. They are required to demonstrate the ability to provide effective instruction sessions that include; conceptual educational experiences, vocabulary development, and both basic and advanced academic content. Candidates are required to demonstrate the skills of assessing the whole child and all that impacts their learning abilities. Once the unique footprint of each child is established, they are to generate educational opportunities for supported learning experiences and document progress. The university maintains a close relationship to all participants in this process and effectively communicates with them.

Number and type of field placements: During the fifth semester over 450 hours of supervised teaching is completed. Candidates are provided cooperating teachers who are fully qualified and well-vetted. The selection of the sites is prioritized by the quality of opportunities that candidates may experience for inclusion and diverse service models.

Connection of field experience with coursework: The Education Department’s official lesson plan has been developed, refined and applied. This has been a long-term project amongst all faculty. The updated format reflects high academic standards and a framework for sound pedagogy, a structure for all candidates to practice. This template serves as a constant and comprehensive form for instructors to use in all courses.

Part of the fieldwork log process requires that the candidate make a connection between the instructional content in courses and the observations that they are experiencing in the field. Faculty specifically design course activities that align to the focus topics identified for fieldwork observations. 

Field supervision, advisement, and evaluation: The university supervisor makes a minimum of six visits to the site during the semester and conducts follow-up review sessions with the candidate. The supervisor appraises and guides candidates towards the development of authentic goals for the semester and beyond. Candidates must demonstrate an effective level of proficiency in order to pass supervision. The candidate may experience guided interventions, if necessary to meet independent performance standards prior to being recommended for a credential.

Assessment of Candidates

A specific emphasis for two other areas are assessed before and during the segment of supervised coursework: 1) conducting IEPs and 2) utilizing formal assessment tools. Candidates are expected to not only manage and document all of the IEP process properly, but they are also prepared to exercise a leadership role in establishing an authentic application to its purpose. Priorities include that the IEP reflects the unique needs of the student and that each stakeholder has made a genuine contribution into the process. This objective includes the skill of conducting a fully engaging IEP process. In courses EDU 208A&B, 251B, 272, 278, 279, and 210 candidates learn to recognize distractions, redirect them and then facilitate a productive outcome for the student. 

Writing skills of the entering candidate has often been a concern. The quality and structure of written work has often been low for a graduate student and candidates are encouraged to use the campus writing center (available to them at no additional cost) and a required run through Grammarly. These resources and the attention of faculty allow candidates to demonstrate improvements within the semester. Faculty members who teach the specialty courses, stress the development of improving writing skills, which often include point values on the rubrics for writing standards. The purpose of this objective is directly linked to the written reports that an Ed Specialist must complete during the IEP process in the field. 

Although there has been a shift in the field where the responsibilities of performing formal assessments has declined, we find it imperative that candidates know how to understand and utilize a proper formal assessment tool. This background knowledge allows the candidate to link learning behaviors and scores to the curriculum and the learning trends of the student. If used properly, candidates can identify strengths and weaknesses of the student, thus giving insight to the individualized patterns of learning for: intake, integration of content and performance demands. In the specialty courses, the candidates learn how a well-defined profile allows the candidate to clearly apply the UDL qualities to academic content.

Numerous professional markers are identified within courses. All preliminary and specialty courses require TPE assessments. Specific skills are addressed for all candidates each semester. The program matrix identifies each TPE and the signature assignment. Candidates must demonstrate a proficiency in these skills, in order to pass the course. Each course syllabus outlines the demands of the assessment tool and deadlines are clearly stated on the course schedule.

1.1.1 Location, Delivery Models, and Pathways

LocationDelivery ModelPathway
Doheny Campus In-Person with some courses Hybrid* Undergraduate — Traditional Student Teaching
Doheny Campus In-Person with some courses Hybrid* Graduate — Traditional Student Teaching
Doheny Campus In-Person with some courses Hybrid*  Graduate — Intern

*During COVID-related restrictions, all courses were temporarily converted to fully online.