The mission of the Department of Elementary Education in the College of Education at Kansas State University is to prepare its students to be knowledgeable, ethical, caring decision makers. The Department prepares students at the undergraduate level in elementary education, at the master's level in elementary education, and at the doctoral level in curriculum and instruction. In the College of Education’s Strategic Plan for 1998-2005, both the B.S. and the M.S. in Elementary Education were listed as having a “very high” overall priority in the college. This department provides a supply of new teachers to fill teaching vacancies in the state of Kansas and also provides graduate courses for the ongoing professional development needs of educators.
Among the degree requirements in the B.S. in Elementary Education is a series of carefully planned field experiences in four different semesters throughout the teacher preparation program. The unique aspect of the program is the use of professional development schools (PDS) since 1990 to deliver these required field experiences. The unique aspect of the M.S. in Elementary Education is the requirement of a 15-credit specialization (with a choice of multiple subject areas, reading/language arts, multicultural education, classroom technology, or English as a Second Language).
In February 2003, the Kansas Board of Regents approved the consolidation of the M.S. in Elementary Education and the M.S. in Secondary Education into one new degree—the M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction. The description of the M.S. in Elementary Education is included in this program review report for the Department of Elementary Education. In the next program review report, all graduate programs (masters and doctoral) in curriculum and instruction will be included in the Curriculum and Instruction Program Review Report.
Quality of Faculty
The quality of teaching in the department is very high, with most elementary education faculty members having course evaluation scores of 4.5 to 5.0 (on a 1.0- to 5.0 scale). Four elementary education faculty members have received the college’s outstanding undergraduate teaching award, and one faculty member received the outstanding graduate teaching award.
Faculty members are very productive in research and creative endeavors. Several faculty members have published textbooks in their field. The faculty members have reported numerous journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, conference papers, and panels. In the last five years, there has been an increase in extramural funding concerning teacher education, English as a Second Language, science education, mathematics education, and other areas.
Quality of Students
The average ACT composite score for students in the B.S. in Elementary Education has increased slightly over the last five years; in FY 02 the average was 22.0. The program at K-State has a very positive reputation concerning the quality of its graduates. This is documented by surveys and informal interviews with the superintendents, principals, and teachers involved in the field experiences of the program. For students admitted in the M.S. in Elementary Education, their undergraduate grade point average can be seen as a measure of the quality of the students in the program. The overall grade point average of students admitted in FY 02 is 3.33. The grade point average for the last 60 hours of their undergraduate program is 3.55.
According to Career and Employment Services reports, there is a slight surplus of elementary education majors in the state and the nation to fill K-6 teaching positions. However, the increasing enrollments in elementary schools will soon result in a balance in the supply and demand for new elementary education teachers. There is ongoing demand for graduate courses in elementary education because teachers in the state of Kansas must show that they have completed 8 graduate credits at each 5-year renewal of their teaching license.
Service Provided to the Discipline, the University, and Beyond
The undergraduate and graduate degrees in elementary education serve a vital role in preparing teachers for their initial licensure and for the ongoing professional development for inservice teachers. Without these degrees, teachers would not be able to obtain their initial teaching license or to renew their licenses. In addition, the undergraduate students in this program take many arts and sciences courses throughout their program.
The student credit hour (SCH) production of the department for courses at all levels increased 11% in the last five fiscal years (to 12,491 from 11,115 SCH). During that same time period, the department’s general use expenditures as a percent of the institution’s general use instructional expenditures increased only 8.5%. During the last five fiscal years, the actual percentage of the department’s general use expenditures as a percentage of the institution’s general use instructional expenditures rose to 1.8%, from 1.7%. Notably, the SCHs at the graduate levels increased 30.3% over the last five fiscal years, primarily due to increased enrollments in ESL graduate classes.
The expenditures of the department may increase due to several factors. First, filling at least two empty faculty lines will cost more in salaries than GTAs or instructors currently filling in. Second, modifications in the supervision of the undergraduate field experiences may require more funding. Third, possible program changes in the undergraduate program may lead to new or changed staffing needs.