President says problems that got Southern Connecticut St. on probation are being addressed

Associated Press

A school that is among Connecticut's leading producers of teachers says it was addressing deficiencies before state officials put it on probation, and it expects the issues to be resolved within a year.

A three-year probation period for the School of Education at Southern Connecticut State University was unanimously approved Wednesday by the state Board of Education, which cited several deficiencies in the school's teacher programs. The board said the school doesn't adequately assess students' skills before making student teaching assignments, doesn't consistently assess advanced teacher education programs and doesn't appear to give students data and feedback to improve their ability to help other students from diverse populations, among other issues.

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Southern bills its School of Education as the largest preparer of education graduates for teaching positions in the state. The school offers more than 30 degree programs serving more than 2,000 full-time and part-time students in undergraduate, master's and doctoral programs.

School officials said a probation period wasn't warranted.

"The reality is that our national accreditation remains in place and our ability to grant degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels is unaffected," SCSU President Mary Papazian said in a statement. "The quality of our faculty in the School of Education remains excellent, and the quality of our curriculum remains outstanding."

The probation was imposed after a visit to the school in March by a team of state education officials and representatives from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which accredits Southern's teaching programs. While the national council said the school was meeting its standards, state officials said the school was deficient in meeting state standards.

The university in New Haven will be required to submit progress reports every six months until an on-site review in the spring of 2017.

Southern recently underwent leadership changes, including the hirings of Provost Bette Bergeron and School of Education Dean Stephen Hegedus.

"We are encouraged by the new SCSU leaders' resolve to correct identified deficiencies and we are optimistic that they will succeed in strengthening their critical preparation programs," state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said.