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Biology Program

1.   Please describe your program's assessment process and what standards you are measuring in relation to the NCATE and State standards of knowledge (content, pedagogy and professional), skills (professional and pedagogical) and dispositions. Is the system course based, end of program based, or other? Be sure to reference how the faculty in your program was involved in developing the assessment process. In addition, describe how the assessment of standards relates to the unit's and program's conceptual framework.

Program Interpretations and Conclusions:

The Biology Teaching Program has a formative and summative assessment system comprised of several elements: 1) a performance-based, standards-aligned electronic program portfolio, 2) entry and exit surveys, and 3) WEST-E and Major Field Test content examinations.

The Biology Teaching Portfolio is based on a common template collaboratively designed and constructed by all members of the Science Education Program, with additional insight provided by K-12 teachers. The conceptual framework is based on the latest scientific research on inquiry and how people learn (National Research Council, 2005). In particular, program assessment focuses on: a) determining student preconceptions, b) engaging candidates in authentic inquiry and investigation, c) developing and applying robust content knowledge, and d) promoting meta-cognitive awareness of learning process and critical thinking.

The main portfolio elements, or dimensions, were conceived through a consensus process by examining commonalities in three sets of professional standards; National Science Education Standards for Teaching, National Science Teacher Association Standards, and the Washington Competencies for Biology. The common dimensions include: 1) Inquiry and Nature of Science; 2) Teaching; 3) Learning Environments; 4) Assessment and Evaluation, 5) Relevance, and 6) Professional Growth. A distinct dimension for Content in the Biology Teaching Portfolio is further subdivided into the major disciplinary themes in biological science, and include: a) Basic Biology, b) General and Organic Chemistry, c) Cell and Molecular Biology, d) Microbiology, e) Physiology, f) Ecology, and g) Evolution.

Candidates must demonstrate knowledge, skills, and disposition proficiency by providing tangible, verifiable evidence chosen from coursework, research and field work, and related disciplinary and educational experiences. Each portfolio dimension contains several strands designed to focus student effort and evidential support. For example, for the Inquiry and Nature of Science dimension, students must provide separate evidence for inquiry, nature of science, and independent research. In an effort to promote higher order thinking and meta-cognitive awareness, students are required to supply evidence they deem suitable rather than evidence prescribed by faculty. Candidates must also justify their choice of evidence and connect these to progress in meeting professional standards through a reflection that accompanies each portfolio dimension. Candidates are required to demonstrate minimum proficiency for each portfolio dimension in order to be allowed to student teach. Compliance is accomplished via an advising hold that may only be removed by a Science Education faculty member.

When a candidate enters the Biology Teaching Program, they must complete an entry survey that includes basic demographics as well as written items that assess candidate disposition. These results are then embedded within the Biology Teaching Portfolio. At the completion of the Biology Teaching Program, each candidate must also complete an exit survey whereby they evaluate program effectiveness, including all education courses in the Professional Education Sequence as well as Science Education courses. Experiences that were particularly useful are described, as are met and unmet candidate expectations. Exit and entry survey results are subsequently compared and a comparative reflection completed.

Content knowledge is assessed via evidence provided by candidates in the Biology Teaching Portfolio as well as two content examinations. The WEST-E in Biology is required of all teaching candidates, whereas the Major Field Test in Biology is required of all biological science majors. Minimum scores are required for both exams. Total and component scores (e.g. Ecology; Molecular Biology) are posted within the Content dimension of the Biology Teaching Portfolio.

Collectively, these assessment procedures are used to evaluate candidate competency and to ensure knowledge, skill, and disposition proficiency for future biology teachers.

2. Below is an analysis of the frequency with which your program cites CTL, WA State Standards/Competencies, and/or national standards within your LiveText artifacts, rubrics, and reports. Please examine the charts and write your program's interpretations and conclusions based on the information provided. (e.g., Are the standards dispersed appropriately in your program? Are all the standards represented as you wish them to be? After reviewing this analysis are there changes your program would recommend making to the way you cite standards or assess your candidates using LiveText?)

Program Interpretations and Conclusions:

All NSTA and nearly all WA COMP standards are represented and well dispersed across the Biology Teaching Portfolio. Content knowledge and learning environment are particularly emphasized for the WA COMP and NSTA standards; assessment and evaluation are also emphasized for NSTA standards. Greater emphasis on inquiry and nature of science standards, particularly in core content courses, is a goal. Discussions between the Biology Teaching advisor and other department faculty to include more investigative learning experiences in core content curriculum are ongoing. External evaluation via program review commends current integration between biology and science education and supports further collaboration. Introductory biology courses currently undergoing revision provide opportunity for better integration of inquiry experiences and a more developed system to assess all biology undergraduates, not only biology teacher candidates. Science Education faculty will collaboratively discuss standards alignment and other portfolio revisions in a mini-retreat sometime prior to Fall 2008. Revisions will focus on realigning Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Physics Teaching Portfolios to the new WA COMP standards. Re-evaluation to ensure adequate standards coverage will follow.

3. Below you will find one sample of your Live Text Report that identifies an aggregation of candidate learning outcome data. Please examine all of your reports in the LiveText exhibit area and discuss the accuracy, consistency, and fairness of the data, as well as what improvements could be made in the program assessment rubrics, courses, artifacts, or reporting. Include your interpretations relative how well your candidates are meeting standards. After examining all of your report data, list any changes your program is considering.

Program Interpretations and Conclusions:

The formative and summative assessment described in section 1 allows Biology Teaching faculty to collect robust data used to drive program decisions. Data is accurate and fair insofar as the Biology Teaching advisor evaluates all students consistently relative to professional benchmarks. Since no other Biology or Science Education faculty evaluate Biology Teaching portfolios, interrater reliability is not determined. Separate rubrics used for each portfolio dimension allow greater insight into candidate specific knowledge, skills, and dispositions, and help identify common areas of candidate strength and weakness. Reports of candidate performance (as of March 2008) indicate candidates are performing well overall, with approximately 75% demonstrating excellent or above average performance across all dimensions. Areas that meet minimum proficiency but could benefit from additional mentoring include suitable artifacts for independent research, content artifacts for basic biology and microbiology, artifacts that showcase ability to promote diversity, and artifacts that demonstrate assessment skill. Areas of the Biology Teaching portfolio that typically score the lowest (approx. 30% proficient level) are the dimension reflections that require students to explicitly connect provided evidence to progress meeting professional standards. This may indicate a lack of experience connecting evidence to progress, undeveloped metacognitive awareness, or some other factor. Interestingly, a lack of assessment expertise (and classroom management) is a common complaint of candidates, particularly prior to taking science methods courses and having practica experiences. Lack of assessment expertise remains a concern. Based on Biology Teaching program results to date, suggested revisions to improve the Biology Teaching program include:

1) more opportunities to experience authentic inquiry in introductory courses,

2) better artifacts for microbiology (lab reports on identifying unknowns are a good possible option),

3) a greater focus on embedded diversity in content and pedagogy courses, and 4) enhanced training for developing suitable assessment and aligning assessment, activities, and student learning outcomes explicitly. Although the main elements of each portfolio rubric are well developed and appropriately balanced in weight, greater specificity could be brought to each performance level to further clarify expectations to candidates.

4. Below you will find a chart of the CTL Standards aggregated by course. Please examine the data results and discuss any improvements if any you might consider for your program. Using these data, please reflect upon your candidates' success in meeting standards. Compare these data to the data provided in the WEST B and E charts that follow. Is there consistency in the rates of success? What do these data tell you?

Program Interpretations and Conclusions:

Aggregated results of success by portfolio dimension and Washington Competencies indicate candidates are highly successful at meeting state performance benchmarks. A low number of incomplete areas are expected as some candidate portfolios are in progress. Overall, greater than 90% of candidates are currently meeting competency requirements as indicated by Biology Teaching portfolio results. These results are corroborated by and highly correlated with the 100% WEST-E pass rate for Biology Teaching candidates. Portfolio results show content knowledge and professionalism data are more variable than for other dimensions, which is expected considering student performance varies across content courses. Professionalism, which is partly influenced by candidate disposition, is also variable.

WEST-B results are less meaningful as they are not broken out by program, but if Biology Teaching candidates are representative of overall WEST-B test takers, then it appears that Biology Teaching candidates are able to overcome math and writing deficits and satisfactorily meet program performance expectations for content knowledge and pedagogical/content skill. This speculative conclusion would be strengthened with WEST-B data parsed by program.

Consistently generating results and reflecting on Biology Teaching candidate performance (individually as Biology Teaching advisor, and collectively as Science Education faculty) will continue to drive program revision and improvement.


Please find below the West B data for the teacher residency program. Please use these data, the LiveText data, and the West E data found below to predict candidate success in your program. Given theses summaries, are there changes to your program or to the unit your program recommends the CTL consider?

  • Between 2005-2007, 49% of the candidates passed all three sections of the exam their first attempt, 84% passed the reading portion in their first attempt, 82% math their first attempt, and 65% passed writing their first attempt.
  • The mean number of candidates not passing reading portion is 11%, math 12%, and writing 25%.

CTL WEST B Data Summary 2002 to Present


Program Interpretations and Conclusions:

As alluded to in the previous section, WEST-B scores are not a significant predictor of candidate success in Science Education. However, the distribution of first time pass rates match what the faculty see for basic skills in our courses and on major course artifacts. Being able to write effectively is the area of most acute need. Science Education faculty address this issue in the Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Physics Teaching programs by having numerous writing assignments, having high expectations of excellent writing and communication skill, and by explicitly evaluating writing mechanics on each assignment. For example, format, spelling, and grammar make up a small but significant part of each portfolio rubric. All the Science Education programs stress both technical (such as lesson plans) and reflective writing (connecting evidence to progress toward meeting professional standards). Reflective writing is used to help students improve how, not just what, they learn (metacognitive awareness).

Since WEST-B summary data started being collected in 2002, the CWU General Education program has required students to take writing intensive courses. So far, no one has investigated the relationship between these courses and student success on the WEST-E.

6. The WEST E is administered by ETS as a state requirement for program Exit, measuring content knowledge by endorsement area. ETS has not sent the final corrected data summary at the time of this report, however, the data we keep on a continuously updated basis is described below in the following graph. The graph compares 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 data by endorsement area. We suspect the 2006-2007 data will change after all scores are received from ETS. According to this set of data, 2005-06 pass rates were 90%. Remember all candidates must pass the test to be certified, so they take it multiple times. We are working on authenticating a different process that will show how many times candidate take the test and when. The 2006-07 data indicates pass rates of 87%. If your program is one of those with a pass rate below 80%; what program recommendations are you considering that will positively affect the rate of passing the WEST-E for 2007-2009?

Program Interpretations and Conclusions:

As of March 2008, 100% of Biology Teaching candidates have passed the WEST-E in Biology. Recommendations are to not tamper with what is working.


Please find below the EBI teacher and principal data for all program completers. Discuss and report in the space provided what your program recommends the unit should accomplish to improve overall satisfaction, or what your program is doing to improve the trend.

  • This survey is administered through OSPI and is contracted through Educational Benchmarking Inc. These data are collected for all new teachers in public schools by surveying new teachers and their principals.
  • Response rate average over the seven years n=105
  • The graph represents a seven year average satisfaction trend by category
  • Highest satisfaction ratings are in the areas of:
    • Student learning
    • Instructional strategies
    • Management, control and environment
  • Lowest satisfaction ratings are in the areas of:
    • Reading skills
  • 5 year Principal responses followed similar patterns as teachers n=41


Program Interpretations and Conclusions:

A general positive trend is evident in the EBI Trend 2001-2007 graph. It is interesting that observed trends remain consistent for each category over time. Whereas program effectiveness and reading skills have the lowest values, it is encouraging that results generally increase over time. The EBI Principal and Teacher 2001-2006 graph follows a similar trend with the exception of program effectiveness. Determing why teachers seem to be less satisfied with overall program effectiveness than principals will require more focused discussion.

As described in section 1, the Biology Teaching Program has implemented a formative and summative assessment system that includes student surveys. Analysis of survey results in conjunction with EBI Principal and Teacher data indicate specific areas for revision. For example, aggregate data across Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Physics Teaching programs indicate that 'EDCS 424: Reading in the Content Field' is perceived by candidates as being least useful to their development. EBI data show a similar trend. These data have driven Science Education faculty discussion on how how this course might be improved or possibly integrated into existing science education courses (thereby reducing candidate course load and time to graduation).


Please find below first year and third year teacher survey results summarized by graphing mean responses for each question.

  • This survey is administered by CTL and data trend summary represents 2004-07
  • The average response rate for 2004-2007 is 15%
  • First year teacher N= 375, Third year teacher n =200
  • The graph and subsequent ANOVA demonstrates a significantly higher average satisfaction rating from first year teachers when compared to third year teachers (p<.05)
  • Highest satisfaction ratings are in the areas of:
    • Subject matter knowledge
    • Application of EALR's
  • Lowest satisfaction ratings are in the areas of:
    • Classroom management
    • Involving and collaborating with parents

Program Interpretations and Conclusions:

Both classroom management and community relations (of which collaborating with parents is a subset) are topics that have been identified by other stakeholders, such as administrators and field observers, as areas of concern. Therefore, it is almost reassuring to see that new teachers also percieve these same topics as needing greater focus. Classroom management is a particularly challenging skill to become accomplished at outside of the classroom, so the Science Education program has for years focused on integrating as many practica experiences into science education courses as possible. Furthermore, Science Education currently has a faculty representative on the Steering Committee to re-evaluate and possibly restructure the Professional Education Sequence, which is required of all education majors. One of the areas receiving particular attention during this process is increasing the class time devoted to both theoretical classroom management and opportunities to implement this knowledge in teaching practica experiences. The Science Education program is also currently working to develop and integrate into existing secondary science programs a new course called "Science and Society". This course would be an ideal venue for presenting ways to involve and collaborate with parents.


Please find below a comparative analysis of candidate dispositions from beginning candidates to finishing candidates. Please comment on the changes you observe in your candidates over time and describe how and why you think this occurs. What does your program specifically do to engage candidates in developing professional teacher dispositions?

  • This inventory is administered by the CTL at admissions (N=645), and again at the end of student teaching (N= 195). Some of the 645 candidates have not yet student taught, which is why the n's are different.
  • There is a significant difference in 12 of 34 items (p<.05) between beginning candidates and candidates completing student teaching
  • Change is in the preferred direction from agree to strongly agree
  • This means somewhere between entry and before exit, the teacher program candidates are developing stronger professional beliefs and attitudes that reflect the underlying values and commitments of the unit's conceptual framework. Future work will include data that tells us where this change is occurring and if there are difference caused by demographic variables. If you want to read more about this disposition instrument, the validation study is published on the OREA web site under research.

Program Interpretations and Conclusions:

The Biology Teaching program promotes teacher dispositions by having clear professional expectations that are clearly and repeated communicated to candidates and validated by work with K-12 teachers. Professionalism is introduced at entry to program and reinforced repeatedly through classroom volunteer and teaching practica experiences in local K-12 schools, Science Education faculty panel interviews of candidates at the end of the secondary science methods course, advising, and entry and exit surveys. Advising and repeated observations of candidates in the field indicate that candidates develop a sincere appreciation for the field, an awareness of the responsibilities of a professional educator, and a willingness to meet the needs of all students. Candidate dispositions may change as a result of having clearly stated expectations, modeling of professionalism by Science Education faculy and K-12 teachers, and through increased awareness of the performance and financial benefits of high professionalism. The Biology Teaching portfolio also requires candidates to provide evidence of professionalism (dimension 7) by becoming members of the National Science Teachers Association (CWU has an official NSTA chapter). Professionalism improves as candidates become immersed in regional and national conversations in NSTA journals and attend professional meetings.



Final Student Teaching Evaluation Report on LiveText

  • The data report is too large to be placed in this document. Please access the data by going to this link on our assessment system web site
  • The report reveals the final assessment of elements found in state standards IV and V
  • Candidates are generally performing at a high level, although there are some candidates as depicted by the colors green and red who are not performing to standard.
  • Examination of those elements indicates some agreement with results provided in the 1st and 3rd year teacher survey.

Please look at these data carefully and discuss with your program faculty some ways the teacher residency program can begin to address the few but common deficits occurring in candidate knowledge and skills relative to the State standard elements. If you need to refer to state standards please refer to this link in the assessment system website:


Program Interpretations and Conclusions:

These data show that most students are performing adequately during student teaching. The greatest deficits are in the Classroom Management and Discipline section. The Science Education program feels deficits in this area can be addressed in the following ways:

1. Reconfigure the Professional Education Sequence (PES) to allow for more practical experience. Classroom management is a difficult topic to be taught in isolation. In the current profesional sequence, classroom management is one part of one lecture-based course. Nearly every science content course requires practical experience in science (such as laboratories, field work, etc). Every science education course requires a practical experience in either science or science teaching. Thus, our candidates are set up to successfully meet science content and pedagogical content knowledge competencies. But, there is no room in our programs to better address classroom management competencies. The PES could be reconfigured in either one of two ways.

a) Cut down on the number of credits in the PES and allow individual progams such as science education to use those credits to design experiences to help candidates better meet all of the competencies including mamagement. Safety is an important aspect of science classroom management that is not adequately dealt with in the PES.

b) Cut down on the number of credits in the PES and develop a clasroom management course with built-in opportunities to test management skills. Greater emphasis on assessment in existing courses would help address candidate assessment deficiencies.

2. Develop a planning structure that allows discipline area faculty to observe student teachers so we can give feedback on management deficits early in the student teaching experience. This way, candidate weaknes can be improved based on sound feedback.


Please examine these data and report any discussions your program has regarding the reported results.

  • This survey is conducted by Career Services and reported to OSPI. The report, however, has been reanalyzed and the summary reflects the new analysis, which covers 2002-2006.
  • Average response rate = 57%
  • Of that 57%, the average percent of graduates who get jobs in state is 94%
  • The average percent of graduate still seeking a position is 27%
  • Two percent of the 57% have decided not to teach
  • For 2005-2006; 35 % of the program graduates responded to questions regarding ethnicity and gender. Out of the 35% who responded, 90% were Caucasian, 5% were Hispanic, 3% were African-American, and 1.8% were Asian.

Program Interpretations and Conclusions:

Teacher placement data indicate most teaching graduates become employed in Washington and work in public schools, which is what they are trained to do. Some continue on to graduate work as well. Evidence from the Biology Teaching portfolio, entry and exit surveys, and WEST-E/MFT exams indicate that students are well prepared to teach biology in K-12 schools; the placement data verifies that students are being hired based on their training. Informal discussions with Biology Teaching graduates and in-service K-12 teachers indicate most enjoy their teaching positions and feel the Biology Teaching program prepared them to succeed in a K-12 environment. Portfolio data and survey results further pinpoint areas within the Biology Teaching and Professional Education programs that are particularly useful (and those less so). The placement data also show a small number of graduates decide not to teach, which indicates that the Biology Teaching program selects those who really want to enter the teaching profession.






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