Union College Educational Studies Unit earns historic achievement

Published on
August 15, 2017

ESU Teach The Union College Educational Studies Unit (ESU) kicks off the 2017-18 academic year celebrating historic achievements from the 2016-17 academic year.

For the academic year beginning July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017, ESU teacher candidates have earned a 100% first time percent pass rate on the Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) Praxis II certification exams for the second consecutive year in a row.

Dr. Jason Reeves, Dean of Union’s Educational Studies Unit, announced the 2017 testing results last week. Dr. Reeves said twenty-four ESU teacher candidates took the certification exam across three different testing platforms (Elementary, Middle, and Secondary). All of the teacher candidates passed the exam on their first attempt.

“The PLT exam is an assessment of a teacher candidate’s pedagogical abilities including: best practices for curriculum and instruction, P-12 students as learners, assessment and learning outcomes for P-12 learners, knowledge of professional development strategies, and classroom leadership skills. In essence, the PLT exam tells a teacher education program if their candidates can truly “teach” their content. These results show that ESU candidates who graduated in the last year are of excellent quality,” Dr. Reeves said. “It is extraordinarily rare that all teacher candidates in all certification program offered by a teacher education program earn a 100% first time passage rate on the PLT. The success of our candidates to do so is due in large part to our candidate’s diligence in preparing for the exam and the dedication of ESU faculty and staff who have made PLT preparation of candidates a personal goal”. 

In addition to a 100% first time passage rate, ESU teacher candidates also excelled in benchmark areas for the PLT exam. For the Principles of Learning and Teaching Exam (grades K-6), twelve teachers took the exam. The passing score for the exam is 160. The median score for Union teachers was 171. The second exam, Principles of Learning to Teach (grades 5-9), 6 teacher candidates combined for a median score of 171, again well above the pass rate of 160. The final exam, Principles of Learning to Teach (grades 7-12), six teachers bested the passing rate of 160 with a median test score of 179. Dr. Reeves said the certification exams are a requirement for all teachers in the state of Kentucky.

“This clearly shows that Union’s ability to produce teachers goes well beyond the classrooms we have here on campus,” Dr. Reeves said. “The teachers graduating from here are among the best in the state and their knowledge and work ethic will carry into their own classrooms for years to come.”

While celebrating back-to-back 100% first-time passage rates for the PLT exam, the ESU is also celebrating a 100% job placement rate for its eleven student teachers from the 2016-17 academic year. This is the first time that the ESU has had both a 100% first time PLT passage rate and 100% job placement for undergraduate teacher candidates in the same academic year.

“The ESU is extremely proud of the success of our student teachers from the last academic year in being selected to help lead classrooms and schools to higher levels of achievement. Our students have been hired in school districts across the state this year. We also have a student who is teaching at an elementary classroom in Thailand, thus extending the ESU’s efforts internationally.”  Dr. Reeves said.

As to what the future holds for the upcoming academic year for the ESU after such a historic run, Dr. Reeves said the goal each year is to put forth best efforts in preparing teacher candidates who can face the challenges of teaching P-12 students and who know they have been exceptionally prepared to lead a classroom.

“Some years, these efforts result in milestones for the ESU that remind us of what hard work can achieve,” he said. “However, these efforts also remind us of the incredible opportunity we have been given each year, which is to prepare teacher candidates. We are very grateful for this gift.”

The Educational Studies Unit at Union offers initial teaching licensure programs in the concentrations of elementary, middle, secondary education, health and physical education. The program also offers advanced graduate programs, including online components, in several program emphasis areas for its Teacher Leader Master’s Degree and Rank I program. To learn more about Union College’s Educational Studies Unit, visit www.unionky.edu/education.