State funding for Kansas University's School of Education may be down, but the school's dean, Ed Meyen, is pleased to report that student performance, teacher certifications and alumni contributions to the school are all up.
On top of that, the school was re-accredited this spring, receiving high marks in the areas of curriculum, faculty and research contributions.
"We achieved it in good style," Meyen said of the accreditation. "We feel good about our program."
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education was particularly impressed with the school's five-year certification program.
In 1981, KU was the first university of its kind to extend its teacher education program from four years to five years. Today, about 80 other universities either have extended programs, are implementing extended programs or are considering the idea.
IN ADDITION to giving students more field experience and a stronger background in liberal arts and sciences, the five-year program attracts some of the best students in the university, NCATE reported.
"Our students are doing superbly in terms of test scores and academic performance," Meyen said.
From 1984-1990, students in the school had the second-highest average grade-point average of all schools at KU, Meyen said. The students' average GPA went from 3.18 to 3.25 between spring 1989 and spring 1990.
Meanwhile, the number of students being certified in the school also is rising. This spring, 190 students were certified, compared with 47 students in 1986.
More than keeping pace with that growth is the financial assistance that the school is providing its students. In 1986, the school provided $20,000 in scholarships; in 1990, that figure was $178,000.
MEYEN SAID the school is looking to former students to help keep that support healthy.
"One thing that we're excited about is working in the area of developing strong ties with our alums across the nation and developing scholarships," Meyen said.
The school's high ratings should help in that endeavor.
"To be able to share that with alums really gets us a good response," Meyen said.
This spring, the school created a 33-member National Alumni Board. The board's members represent about a dozen states and a wide range of ages. One member graduated this spring; another was a member of the Class of 1932.
While board members at some point might be asked to organize alumni receptions in their respective regions, the school already has begun to hold receptions in conjunction with those of the KU Alumni Association.
THIS YEAR, the school held receptions in cities around the country, including Denver, Boston, New York City, Houston and Albuquerque, N.M. Meyen said the receptions are an excellent way to keep KU education alumni up to date on the school.
One thing alumni will hear is that the school is heavily involved in public schools beyond sending students there for field experience.
"We're looking at several ways that we can interface with the schools," Meyen said.
Each June, the school sponsors the School Improvement Institute, which helps professionals in education improve their skills. More than 200 teachers and administrators from across the state attended the most recent institute.
The school also has summer programs that give secondary school students a look at college life. Meyen said the goal isn't to convince those students to be education majors but rather "to encourage the pursuit of a full secondary education."
IN ADDITION, Meyen said, the school's faculty members are doing more and more research directly related to the needs of schools.
One hot topic in education these days is that of alternative certification methods, which allow people with professional backgrounds in certain areas to teach in schools without going through the traditional certification process.
"I wouldn't argue for a minute that there aren't people out there with life experiences . . . that wouldn't be good teachers," Meyen said. "But if you're looking at alternative teacher certification, it ought to be addressing a need.
"The idea began on the East Coast where they had a serious shortage of teachers."
However, Meyen said, "Most Midwestern states produce more teachers than they need. Kansas exports teachers."
MEYEN ALSO is involved in national education issues. He recently was appointed to the National Council on Education Standards and Testing, a group that will examine the U.S. educational system.
The council, part of President Bush's "America 2000'' initiative, was established to provide advice on the desirability and feasibility of national standards and testing in education.
Meyen, who was named to the panel by Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, said the group will examine "new standards for American education and the basic question of whether the U.S. should have a system of national achievement tests'' for children in kindergarten through grade 12.