The mission of the Education/Interdisciplinary Studies major and professional education programs at Tusculum University is to prepare teachers who are committed to excellence in education and who are confident in their abilities to assume leadership as educators and citizens in the communities where they live and work. The program continues the University’s focus on civic and intellectual development of students, while fostering the skills, knowledge and habits of character vital to those involved in the education of the nation’s next generation of citizens.
Education programs at Tusculum University adhere to the requirements and guidelines established by the Tennessee State Board of Education (TSBE) and the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE). Modifications in initial and advanced education programs and curriculum may occur as the result of TSBE or TDOE actions and regulations. Tusculum University reserves the right to revise academic programs as deemed necessary to meet accrediting and approval criteria.
Tusculum University offers four categories of teacher licensure programs:
- Interdisciplinary Studies
Elementary Education K-5
- Secondary Education (refer to the specific disciplines for program requirements)
- K-12 Physical Education (refer to Physical Education section for program requirements)
Physical Education K-12
- Special Education (refer to Special Education section for program requirements)
All of Tusculum University’s teacher licensure programs are enhanced by two semesters of clinical experiences in area schools. These experiences enrich the knowledge gained in classroom work and more fully prepare students for their student teaching. Many students discover vital new interests in various aspects of education as a result of clinical experiences; sometimes confirming their choice of major, or in other cases, leading the students to select a different major more closely related to their interests.
The Teacher Education Advisory Council
The Teacher Education Advisory Council provides a forum on campus to obtain input on decisions involving the requirements and objectives of the professional education programs at Tusculum University and includes members from the community, local school districts, and Tusculum University faculty and staff. The function of the Advisory Council is to study and make recommendations concerning programs in the teacher preparation program. Recommendations for curriculum change that may arise in the Teacher Education Advisory Council follow the standard procedure: development of proposal by departmental faculty, approval by the Graduate or Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and, finally, approval by the University faculty. The Advisory Council serves as a liaison between the Education Department and all departments that prepare students for a career in teaching.
Teacher Education Review Board
The Teacher Education Review Board reviews all student applications for admission into Teacher Licensure programs. The Review Board is comprised of at least two members from teacher education (includes faculty, staff and advisors). When the candidate has satisfactorily completed and documented requirements listed below, the Review Board will invite the candidate to schedule an interview. Both the content and quality of responses have a significant influence in the candidate’s admission to the program. The Review Board interviews each candidate for oral proficiency in explaining autobiographical information and their self-assessment of strengths and weaknesses to be addressed while preparing to become a professional educator. Following the interview, the Review Board makes a decision and sends written notification of the decision to the candidate’s email within five working days. If the Review Board denies the application, the email will include the process to appeal the decision and request a second interview. The COE Dean and Certification Officer will conduct all second interviews and determine whether the candidate is to be admitted. Candidates admitted on appeal may begin the program at the next scheduled start date. Approval from the Board and admission to a teacher education program are prerequisites for enrolling in upper division professional education courses.
Admission to Teacher Education
Admission to Tusculum University does not automatically admit a student to Teacher Education. Information pertaining to admission to the Teacher Education Program follows. While advisors and advisees should work closely to follow the professional course sequence, it is the student’s responsibility to make the necessary applications and to meet requirements and other specified deadlines.
Initial Admission to the Teacher Education Program
Tusculum University’s College of Education seeks students who are mature and highly motivated. A formal application for initial admission to the teacher education program should be filed as soon as the student has started EDUC 200 - History, Philosophy And Principles Of Education and SPED 201 - Survey Of The Regular And Special Needs Population Within The School Environment . This may occur as early as the second semester of the freshman year and should be no later than the second semester of the sophomore year. Students wishing to transfer from another institution to the Teacher Education Program at Tusculum University should immediately make their intentions known to the Certification Officer. The Certification Officer will suggest the appropriate time to make formal application for admission to Teacher Education. Application forms may be obtained from the education program office in the Charles Oliver Gray North Building.
In order to be fully admitted to the education program, a candidate must:
- Be a registered student at Tusculum University.
- Meet one of the following:
- Have a composite ACT score of 21 or higher or a combined recentered SAT score of 1080 or higher.
- Pass Reading, Writing, and Math Praxis Core tests.
- Complete and pass the TBI background check.
- Complete SPED 201 and EDUC 200 .
- Have a G.P.A. of 2.75 or above on a four (4) point scale.
- Submit a Teacher Education application to the Teacher Education Department
- Submit two (2) recommendation forms from faculty members - at least one from the major and/or one from general education.
- Have apparent good mental and physical health with evidence that any handicapping conditions will not impair the candidate’s effectiveness as a teacher.
- Successfully complete an interview with and receive approval from the Teacher Education Review Board.
All students who will participate in clinical experiences are required to complete and pass the TBI background check. Tennessee state law dictates that all persons who have contact with children in grades PreK-12 through the public school system must have an appropriate background check conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. All students must submit this information before they can be fully admitted to any teacher education program. See the Certification Officer for information about this process.
The Praxis Core tests in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics must be successfully passed by all candidates for teacher education, unless the candidate is exempt as a result of adequate ACT (composite or score of at least 21) or SAT (composite score of at least 1080) test scores. The tests may be taken on any scheduled test date during the year at any official test site. There is no prerequisite for taking the test. Visit https://www.ets.org/praxis/tn/requirements/ for information about test dates, sites, and registration.
There is a substantial fee for taking the tests, which must be paid by the candidate. Students meeting criteria may apply for assistance with the test fees through the ETS website. Application for financial assistance should be made well in advance of the scheduled test date. For more information on Praxis fee waivers please visit http://www.ets.org/praxis/about/fees/fee_waivers/.
Students should take the Praxis Core tests no later than the conclusion of the freshman year. The Praxis Core tests must be successfully completed prior to screening for admission to the education program. Transfer students should take the test by the time of their admission to the University.
Retention in Teacher Education
After an applicant has been accepted into Teacher Education, the candidate’s progress will be reviewed periodically by members of the education faculty. Candidates will continue through program coursework as long as they continue to make satisfactory progress and meet all requirements set forth by the Education Department. Retention in the Teacher Education Program is contingent on the successful completion of courses and program requirements and maintenance of the academic standard required for initial admission to the program.
Specifically, all students having been admitted to the teacher education program must maintain a grade point average of 2.75. Students whose cumulative G.P.A. falls below 2.75 will be placed on departmental probation for the next semester. By the end of the probationary period, the candidate must achieve at least a 2.75 cumulative G.P.A. Failure to achieve the required G.P.A. during the probationary semester will result in automatic suspension from the teacher education program. Teacher licensure candidates are reminded that a G.P.A. of 2.75 in the major and in the professional education core is required for admission to Student Teaching. Students are placed on departmental academic probation for the next semester if they earn one grade below “C-” in any major course. Students will be academically suspended from the department for a period of one semester if they earn a second grade below “C-” in the major courses. As the department accepts for graduation no grade below “C-” in the major and as all required coursework must be completed prior to the student teaching semester, the student is required to repeat courses that do not meet this standard.
Students who fail to maintain consistent pre-professional performance, both in academic performance and dispositional character as representatives of the University and of the Teacher Education Program, are subject to action from the Review Board, which may place conditions on the candidate’s continuation in the program or may remove the candidate from the teacher licensure program altogether.
Description of Enhanced Student Teaching
The enhanced student teaching experience is a planned professional semester that includes full days of teaching and observation under the supervision and guidance of Tusculum University faculty and local school district personnel. The student teacher will spend one complete semester (a minimum 16 consecutive weeks) in student teaching activities. This enhanced student teaching will focus on experience in at least two different classrooms, which may be at different schools. Students will have two placements within their certification levels. Elementary (K-5) student teachers will have a lower and upper elementary placement (K-2, 3-5). Students seeking secondary licensure will gain practice at both middle school and high school levels. Students seeking K-12 licensure will have an elementary and high school placement. The performance of student teachers will be evaluated by supervising practitioners (cooperating teachers) in the local school system and supervisors from Tusculum University. According to state requirements, students must successfully complete both placements in the student teaching semester in order to be recommended for licensure. A passing grade must be obtained in Student Teaching before a teaching license may be requested.
- Students are advised to discontinue employment during the student teaching semester unless the employment is continued on a very limited basis.
- No other courses may be taken while student teaching without prior approval of the College of Education Dean. Enrollment in any course at an outside institution during the student teaching semester will not be transferred into Tusculum University for credit toward the degree program as this would violate University policy.
- ALL teacher education students must pass the Praxis Content Knowledge test prior to the student teaching semester. Students who attempt but do not pass the Praxis Content Knowledge test must successfully appeal prior to being approved to student teach. Student Teaching Praxis II Appeal forms are due August 1 for fall student teaching and December 1 for spring student teaching.
- ALL teacher education students seeking licensure must successfully complete all required Praxis specialty tests for each area of desired certification and pass the edTPA, a nationally scored performance assessment, to meet Practitioner Licensure requirements.
- Students will be assessed a Student Teaching fee as part of their University tuition and fees to cover the cost of the initial submission of edTPA and to support the technology used during student teaching.
Special Policies for Student Teaching and Athletes
Students involved in intercollegiate athletics at Tusculum University are expected to plan their schedules so as not to enter student teaching during the semester in which their sport is in season. In the case of basketball, men’s volleyball, and golf, which operate in both semesters, students are expected to arrange for student teaching during the fall semester, to reduce the possibility of conflict with post-season play in spring. Students cannot be excused from student teaching to participate in regular season athletic events. All such schedule conflicts must be resolved in favor of the student teaching responsibilities. In rare cases it may be unavoidable to student teach during a semester in which post-season play is possible. In such cases the student-athlete must make arrangements in the semester prior to the student teaching for possible absence during an extended post-season tournament trip. These arrangements include:
- Official notification to the Director of Clinical Experience of the possibility of post-season play, including the dates for such tournament play.
- Endorsement from the Athletic Director’s office.
- Approval from the Tusculum University College of Education, Teacher Education Department.
- Approval from the supervising teacher and school principal.
- Completion by the student of any makeup days determined by the Director of Clinical Experience.
Note: The arrangements indicated above must be made in advance. Under no circumstances will a student be excused for post-season play who has not made the appropriate arrangements in advance. The Teacher Education Review Board will not hear appeals from students who fail to make arrangements in advance.
Requirements for the Degree and Licensure
To earn the Bachelor of Arts degree, the student must:
- Complete a minimum of 120 semester hours of coursework, with a cumulative grade point average of 2.75.
- Complete all Major and Professional Education courses with a G.P.A. of 2.75.
- Complete all courses in the General Education core curriculum.
- Complete a minimum of 25 percent of the credit hours required for the degree through instruction offered at Tusculum University.
- Submit all official transcripts.
- Participate in all outcomes assessment as required by the University and College of Education.
- Submit and pass edTPA. If the first submission falls below the passing score, the student must revise and resubmit edTPA to qualify for graduation. All edTPA submissions will occur during the student teaching semester.
- Make payment of all tuition and fees.
Non-Licensure Degree Requirements: Students who opt to obtain a non-licensure Interdisciplinary Studies degree must take a Tusculum University course equivalent to Citizens in a Global Society, and other courses necessary to reach the 120 credits required for graduation. Students electing the Non-Licensure degree option must complete and sign a Request to Graduate Without Recommendation for Teacher Licensure form and submit it to their advisor.
Assessment in Teacher Education Coursework
- edTPA: edTPA is a subject-specific nationally-scored performance assessment for prospective teachers required for licensure in the state of Tennessee. Beginning in the Fall of 2018, all students will prepare and submit their edTPA portfolio during their first placement of student teaching. Students who do not receive a passing score with their first submission must resubmit the assessment a second time to meet graduation requirements.
- LiveText, Critical Tasks, and Key Assignments:
- All students in this program are required to have an account for LiveText, a web-based electronic portfolio service. The subscription access code for LiveText will be emailed to your Tusculum account the third week of your first semester after admission to teacher education. Your LiveText account is valid for 7 years and will be used throughout your program for submission of course-based Critical Tasks and Key Assignments in your education courses.
- Critical Tasks and Key Assignments are used to evaluate your progress toward meeting program and applicable state and/or national standards and to inform program improvement. Once your task/assignment is uploaded to your portfolio, it will be assessed by your instructor using a 4-point rubric (4=Exemplary, 3=Proficient, 2=Developing Proficiency, 1=Not Proficient). You must earn an average score of 3 or better on each Critical Task to receive a passing grade in the course. If you score less than 3, you will be given feedback to guide your remediation of the work for resubmission. Key Assignments do not require a minimum score but must be uploaded to LiveText to receive a passing grade in the course.
Praxis Specialty/Content Test(s)
All teacher education students seeking licensure must successfully complete all required Praxis specialty tests for each area of desired endorsement. Although successful completion of all Praxis specialty/content tests is not a graduation requirement, it is a required step in the licensure application process to the Tennessee Office of Educator Licensing. Praxis specialty test scores are only valid for five years on all state-required content assessments prior to licensure. For more information about Praxis II tests and a list of testing centers; please visit http://www.ets.org/praxis.
Students Returning for Licensure
Former teacher education students wishing to return to the teacher education program must meet the following criteria before beginning coursework:
Withdrew from program
- Meet all current program and state licensure requirements.
- If the student was previously admitted into the Teacher Education Program, and it has been less than three years, only a new cleared background check in addition to an interview with the Teacher Education Review Board are required. If previously admitted in the Teacher Education program and it has been more than three years, the teacher education candidate must reapply to the Teacher Education program and meet current testing/program requirements.
- Must be accepted for readmission to the University.
- Present a cleared TBI background check (TNCC30011) and meet current course/program requirements if not enrolled at Tusculum University for more than one semester, not including summer term.
- If not enrolled at Tusculum University for more than one semester, not including the summer term, complete a successful interview with the Teacher Education Review Board.