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Ball State Wins AASCU Award for Community-Based Program

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has selected the “Schools Within the Context of Community” (SCC) program at Ball State University (IN) to receive the 2016 Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award. The award will be presented October 30 at the AASCU Annual Meeting and recognized again at the AACTE Annual Meeting in March 2017.

Launched in 2009 as a partnership between Ball State University’s Department of Elementary Education and the Whitely neighborhood of Muncie, Indiana, the SCC program takes a unique approach to teacher education. It immerses preservice candidates in a low-income, African-American community where they are carefully matched with mentors who serve as cultural ambassadors and impart the strengths and values of the community. Alongside these mentors, candidates authentically participate in the life of the community through their attendance at church, community events, and family gatherings and through their joint participation in mobilization with the local community council. Simultaneously, candidates participate in 18 credits of integrated course work with an interdisciplinary faculty who work together to plan and deliver a responsive plan of study that is directly relevant to candidates’ experiences. Ushered by program faculty through intentional exercises of reflection, candidates are challenged to incorporate their learning into their teaching in order to develop culturally responsive experiences for the children with whom they work.

SCC is a young program that has already shown itself to be a positive impact on elementary students, their neighborhood, and the community. During the program’s 7-year tenure in the Whitely neighborhood, the elementary school with which Ball State works has transitioned from an “F” school to an “A” school, and scores on the state standardized test have increased from 30% to 71%. In turn, the elementary teachers who participate in this program are better prepared to be effective in the classroom and to be of greater service to their students and communities. Notably, 70% of SCC program graduates are currently teaching in racially, ethnically, economically, and linguistically diverse communities. And the university’s relationship with the community is strengthened and authentic.

Learn more about SCC in this brief video from Ball State. Its other recognitions include a second-place award in 2012 for the AACTE-Southern Poverty Law Center Award for Exemplary Culturally Responsive Teacher Preparation.

AASCU institutions award approximately 65% of public, 4-year bachelor’s degrees in education each year. The Christa McAuliffe Award honors exemplary teacher education programs at AASCU institutions. Specifically, it recognizes programs that have done an exemplary job of using evidence of their graduates’ impact on PK-12 learning outcomes to inform improvements to their preservice preparation and professional development programs. To win this award, teacher education and professional development programs must not only demonstrate effectiveness in producing PK-12 learning outcomes, but also explain how they have redesigned their programs as a result of these PK-12 learning outcomes.

Learn more about the Christa McAuliffe Award here, and read about AASCU’s other 2016 award winners here.

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Jolanda M. Westerhof

Associate Vice President, Academic Leadership and Change, and Director, Teacher Education, American Association of State Colleges and Universities