Department of Special Education
Policy on the Employment of Students in Educational Programs During Field Studies and Student Teaching
Effective Spring Semester 2008
Background and Rationale
Faculty in the Department of Special Education at the University of Utah recognize the acute shortages of special education teachers and trained paraprofessionals and are happy to work with school districts to be flexible in meeting the needs of both schools and the Department of Special Education training programs. In order to best meet the needs of districts and students enrolled in department teacher education programs we believe that it is important that the suitability of employment for all or part of a student's field studies or student teaching experience be negotiated prior to initiation of employment or change of employment so that high quality, well supported placement options are identified and any flexible, individualized solutions can be identified in a proactive and collaborative manner. Our intent is for such prior agreements to minimize any instances in which teacher education students are in the position of making a choice between (a) continued district employment, or (b) completing their special education teacher education program in a timely manner. The intended result is improved continuity of services to district special education students, and the effective and efficient preparation of future special education teachers in this critical shortage area. Arrangements that may facilitate the prior approval of district employment during field studies and student teaching include part-time employment, job sharing across two district settings that provide different opportunities to meet program requirements, assignment of paraprofessionals to highly skilled teachers who will serve as strong role models as cooperating professionals, and flexibility about arranging release time so that students can complete program requirements that cannot be fulfilled in their employment setting.
Individual teacher education students must obtain written approval from a clinical supervisor and the program coordinator in their teacher education specialization program, and from the district coordinator or director of special education services for the cooperating school district prior to beginning district employment that they wish to use as a part of field studies or student teaching requirement. If the student has previously been employed by the district they must receive prior approval that this placement will allow them to complete program requirements. If a district wishes to change the employment of a student to another educational setting while the student is enrolled in field studies or student teaching the written approval process needs to be renewed prior to the change being implemented.
The criteria for approval of such requests are:
- The student can fulfill all of the course, field study, and student teaching requirements in their employment setting(s), or will be provided with part-time employment or sufficient release time to allow them to fulfill any parts of their program that cannot be fulfilled in their employment setting in another educational program.
- The amount of field supervision and support necessary for the individual to successfully complete the requirements of the teacher education program do not exceed what is typically provided by department Clinical Supervisors to students that are not employees, and
- A cooperating professional is identified who can provide a successful model of the implementation of evidence-based special education practices, and is willing to serve in a cooperating professional role, including providing (a) on-going coaching or modeling, and (b) direct observation, supervision, and feedback to the student on a regular basis.
The approval of an employment position as an approved site for field studies or student teaching may be rescinded if the district discontinues the student's employment for any reason, the student resigns from employment, or the student is unable to complete program requirements in their employment setting and attempts to negotiate flexible solutions to combining employment and field experiences and student teaching are unsuccessful
Students will not be allowed to register for courses, field studies, and student teaching unless they are in an approved field studies or student teaching placement.
Approval of District Employment Settings for Field Studies and Student Teaching Sites for University of Utah Teacher Education Students
After careful consideration of the University of Utah Department of Special Education policy on the employment of students in educational programs during field studies and student teaching we agree that ____________________(student name) may use their employment at ____________________________(school, classroom, or educational program(s) ) as an approved site or site(s) for _____________________________(field studies and/or student teaching course numbers). If the student is unable to complete all requirements within this employment setting we further agree that the following arrangements will be made to allow the student to complete their teacher education program requirements in educational settings other than the one(s) in which they are employed.
____________________________________(educator name) has been identified as a district cooperating professional who is able and interested in fulfilling the responsibilities of a cooperating teacher.
If unforeseen problems arise in the implementation of this plan the teacher education student, faculty in the Department of Special Education, and school district special education teachers and administrators will attempt to resolve problems in a manner that will meet the needs of providing services to special education students and preparing highly skilled special education teachers. The approval of an employment position as an approved site for field studies or student teaching may be rescinded if the district discontinues the student's employment for any reason, the student resigns from employment, or the student is unable to complete program requirements in their employment setting and attempts to negotiate flexible solutions to combining employment and field experiences and student teaching are unsuccessful
(Teacher Education Student)
(District Coordinator or Director of Special Education)