Admission and retention policies in teacher education programs are based on the standards and guidelines of the State of North Carolina and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Approved institutions must have established procedures for implementing decisions regarding admission to and retention in teacher education programs. The state and CAEP guidelines require continuous evaluation of students admitted to teacher education programs and states that those found unlikely to succeed as teachers should be withdrawn. Our undergraduate teacher education programs include:
- Birth-Kindergarten, BS (Professional Education Concentration)
- Elementary, BSEd
- Elementary Second Degree Program, BSEd
- Middle Grades, BSEd
- Inclusive, BSEd
- Health and Physical Education, BSEd
- Art, BSEd
- Music, BSEd
- English, BSEd
- Mathematics, BSEd
- Science, BSEd (all concentrations including Earth Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics)
- Social Sciences, BSEd
Conceptual Framework for the Professional Education Program
The professional education program at Western Carolina University fulfills its mission by creating and nourishing a community of learners guided by knowledge, values, and experiences. The guiding principles of this community include the belief that the best educational decisions are made after adequate reflection and with careful consideration of the interests, experiences, and welfare of the persons affected by the decisions; with appreciation of and respect for diversity; and with the fostering of the responsible use of technology.
Teacher Education Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Principles
In WCU’s teacher education programs, we believe educators are front-line workers for creating a more equitable and just society. We center diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our educational programs. We recognize our responsibility in ensuring future educators understand the impact that teachers, schools, and educational systems play in the disruption of inequity or the continued perpetuation of marginalization. Therefore, we commit to the following DEI Principles with regard to our people, pedagogy, professional learning, and priorities.
- People - Our teacher education programs value diversity in candidates, faculty, and staff and will intentionally recruit and create systems that help retain diverse people. In our community we explore our own experiences and identities, examine our prejudices, and actively engage in critical self-reflection and growth. We endeavor to cultivate teacher candidates with equity-minded dispositions who strive to create equitable classroom environments in which all students are valued and can be successful, who challenge inequities within schools, and who advocate for a more just and equitable society.
- Pedagogy - We will teach asset-based, culturally relevant instructional approaches and model those approaches within our classrooms. We will provide field experiences that allow our candidates the opportunity to work with diverse students. Our curricula will explicitly address the impacts of intersecting, systemic forces such as but not limited to colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, bias against people who are LGBTQIA+, religious intolerance, and ableism that historically and currently lead to discrimination and injustices within schools and our larger society.
- Professional Learning - The teacher educator faculty and staff will engage in continuous learning opportunities about diversity, equity, and inclusion, realizing the necessity for constant recalibration to meet these ends. Moreover, our teacher education faculty and staff will provide co-curricular learning opportunities for students about diversity, equity, and inclusion. We also commit to collaborating with regional school partners and community organizations to advance DEI professional learning opportunities for in-service educators and community members.
- Priorities - The teacher education program will prioritize and support DEI-focused teaching, service, and scholarship and the faculty, staff, and students leading such work.
Our emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout all aspects of our teacher education programs will enable the cultivation of Culturally relevant, Asset minded, Technically skillful, and Student-centered educators. Go CATS!
Teacher Education Dispositions
Western Carolina University’s initial licensure Teacher Education program has adopted the Educator Dispositions Assessment (EDA) as our assessment of dispositions. The EDA includes dispositions that address:
- Oral Communication Skills
- Written Communication Skills
- Positive and Enthusiastic Attitude
- Preparedness in Teaching and Learning
- Appreciation and Value for Cultural and Academic Diversity
- Collaboration with Stakeholders
- Self-regulated Learner Behaviors/Taking Initiative
- Social and Emotional Intelligence
Candidates are required to display behavior demonstrating these dispositions across all settings associated with their university program and field-based requirements.
Admission to the Teacher Education Program
Acceptance and registration in a department do not guarantee admission to the teacher education program in that department. The applicant’s fitness for teaching in the chosen area is determined by demonstrated academic ability and other personal characteristics conducive to effective teaching. A student may be considered suitable in one area and unsuitable in another. Students with disabilities that may impact successful teaching should consult with the Director of Teacher Education and the Office of Accessibility Resources.
Students who plan to receive a degree in education or a license through Western Carolina University must apply for and be officially admitted to a teacher education program. Admission to teacher education requires an application that should be completed during the semester in which the student is enrolled in EDCI 201 (BK 250 for Birth-Kindergarten (BK) majors), which is a prerequisite to all other courses in the professional education sequence. Applications are available online by logging into Tk20. See information on Admission to the Teacher Education program at https://www.wcu.edu/learn/departments-schools-colleges/ceap/stl/admission-to-teacher-education.aspx/
All requirements for admission to teacher education should be met by the end of the semester the student completes the “Introduction to Teacher Education” requirement (EDCI 201 or for BK majors only either BK 250 or completion of the AAS to BS/Early Childhood Program). To meet the minimum requirements for admission, students should have met all the following criteria:
- Completed at least 30 hours (which can also include transfer hours)
- Earned a C (2.00) or higher grade in ENGL 101–NOTE: Earning a C (2.00) or higher grade in ENGL 202 is required before beginning Internship 1
- Earned a C (2.00) or higher in EDCI 201 or for BK majors only BK 250 (Not applicable for BK majors that have completed the AAS to BS/Early Childhood Program.)
- Earned a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75; that minimum GPA must be maintained to remain in the program
- Achieved the minimum required scores on the SAT, ACT, or Praxis Core (Reading, Writing, Mathematics)
- Subscribed to Tk20, our electronic portfolio system
- Completed the Professional Dispositions Contract
- Completed the background check approved by the WCU Teacher Education program
- Submitted the application for Admission to Teacher Education on Tk20
Applicants already holding non-teacher education degrees and seeking a teaching license must meet all the above requirements except they are not required to take the Praxis Core. Applicants with non-teaching degrees from accredited institutions who did not have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 should consult with the Coordinator of Teacher Education Admissions.
Students must have maintained satisfactory conduct and citizenship records in keeping with the ethics of the teaching profession. Applicants with a record of legal offenses may not be eligible for admission to teacher education.
Readmission to Teacher Education
Students whose WCU enrollment is interrupted for three consecutive semesters (any combination of fall, spring, summer) or who are dismissed from the university are required to seek readmission to the Teacher Education Program upon their return. Readmission to the Teacher Education program requires students to meet admission criteria in place at the time the readmission application is submitted.
A student who is readmitted to the university after dismissal, suspension, or expulsion will not be readmitted to the teacher education program the first term after returning.
Continuation in the Teacher Education Program
The requirements for continuing in the program are as follows:
- A GPA of at least 2.75 on hours attempted
- Behavior that adheres to the NC code of ethics of the profession and the professional dispositions of the College of Education and Allied Professions
- Satisfactory participation in the required professional field experiences that are prerequisite to internship.
- An evaluation of each field experience assignment will become a part of the student’s professional record
- If a student fails two courses or any one course in the professional education sequence twice, the student is withdrawn from teacher education.
Professional Education Sequence Core
All undergraduate initial licensure teacher education programs include a Professional Education Sequence core set of requirements. These include:
- Core Courses (6-9 credit hours)
- Introduction to teacher education (0-3 credit hours): EDCI 201 or for Birth-Kindergarten majors only BK 250 or completion of the AAS to BS/Early Childhood Program
- Special education (3 credit hours): SPED 240 or for Birth-Kindergarten majors only BKSE 345
- Culturally relevant classroom management (3 credit hours): EDCI 430, or for Inclusive Education majors only SPED 430, or for Health and Physical Education majors only HPE 343, or for Birth-Kindergarten majors only BK 361
- Year-long Internship
- Key Assessments
- Educator Disposition Assessment
- Professional Beliefs about Diversity Scale
- Early Field Experience Evaluation of Student Observer
- Professional Development Plan
- North Carolina Certification of Teaching Capacity or accepted equivalent final intern evaluation
Each program has identified additional courses that are part of their specific Professional Education Sequence and that require admission to the Teacher Education program. This information is provided in their catalog descriptions.
Clinical and Field Experience for Professional Education
In addition to the internship requirement, the teacher education program requires field experiences in conjunction with several courses. Students are expected to make their own arrangements for transportation and housing and absorb the costs related to field experiences and internship. Each program has different requirements, and students should discuss costs with the program head before applying for admission to the teacher education program. The goal of professional education clinical and field experiences is to help teacher education students learn to teach all of their pupils to achieve at high levels of performance. Although each field experience requirement has its own specific purpose and placement procedures, the strategies to achieve this goal are stated below:
- Field experience placements are made so that students can work with qualified educators in successful programs.
- Field experience placements are made so that students have the opportunity to work with diverse learners. Teacher education students are required to complete one field experience in a diverse setting, as defined by the College of Education and Allied Professions. Students who do not complete one of the early field experience requirements in a diverse setting must be placed in a diverse setting for the internship semester.
- Field experiences placements are made in collaboration with K-12 school personnel.
- Field experience placements are made to facilitate appropriate supervision of students.
- Students can sometimes combine early field experience placements to meet multiple course requirements. This is approved for no more than two classes.
Admission to Internship
Students apply to the Director of Field Experiences early in the semester before the semester in which the internship is to be done. The requirements for admission to internship are:
- Completion of at least 39 of 42 hours required for Liberal Studies
- Admission into the Teacher Education program for at least one semester
- Completion of at least ninety hours in a teacher education curriculum
- A GPA of 2.75 or above, both at the beginning of the term immediately preceding the student internship term and at the time of enrollment in internship
- Completion of at least two-thirds of the major
- Completion of all records designated by the Director of Field Experiences
- Completion of the applicable professional education sequence except for internship and the internship seminar
- Completion of an approved background check
- Completion of internship application including recommendation by advisor and program coordinator
- All other requirements from the school placement as applicable.
Continuation in Internship
To continue in internship, students must maintain satisfactory professional conduct and adhere to the policies and regulations of the school to which they are assigned. When recommended by the Director of Field Experiences and approved by the Director of Teacher Education, students failing to perform at a satisfactory level may be removed from internship. Removal from a school placement is considered a failed internship. The Office of Field Experiences is under no obligation to place the student in another setting. Removal from a school placement will result in a grade no higher than a D.
Requirements for Teacher Licensure
To be eligible for a recommendation from WCU for an initial teaching license in North Carolina, a student must meet the following criteria:
- Complete one of the approved teacher-education programs
- Achieve a minimum grade of C (2.00) in internship
- Meet WCU edTPA assessment requirements
- Receive a public school recommendation indicating that the internship was successful
- Receive a satisfactory recommendation on the standard final internship evaluation.
- Complete application for licensure and file with the Licensure Officer of the College of Education and Allied Professions
- Meet WCU testing requirement for PRAXIS II and Pearson tests
- Receive a professional recommendation for an Initial Professional License (IPL) by the Licensure Officer of the College of Education and Allied Professions