Secondary Education Program Mission Statement
The School of Education at Westminster College aims to prepare secondary education teachers distinguished by their subject matter knowledge, interpersonal capacities, pedagogical skills, and professional attitudes.
The School of Education seeks to create a community of learners in which stimulating and challenging expectations are addressed in a positive, caring, and encouraging environment that is respectful of all individuals. The faculty seeks to model the personal attributes and pedagogical practices which distinguish the teaching profession at its best.
Students are encouraged to build a professional knowledge base through study in the Westminster Plan, the Intellectual Perspectives, general course work, and professional education. Meaningful classroom experiences, multiple opportunities with children and youth, and partnerships with schools and agencies enable students to connect academic work and the field of basic education at all levels. Competencies are sought in content knowledge, understanding the diversity of all learners, instructional strategies, management, communication, planning, assessment, professionalism, and collaboration. The nobility and significance of preparing professional educators are acknowledged as the demands for service to an ever-changing, diverse global and technological world increases.
Upon program completion, candidates will have acquired the knowledge, demonstrated the skills, and assumed the attitudes necessary to begin a teaching career and the required credentials for initial certification. The program outcomes are consistent with the standards, guidelines, and outcomes of the College and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
- Upon completing the secondary education program, candidates will demonstrate cognition, development, and learning competencies that lead to grades 7-12 or K-12 certification.
- Upon completing the secondary education program, candidates will demonstrate content pedagogy competencies that lead to grades 7-12 or K-12 certification.
- Upon completion of the secondary education program, candidates will demonstrate competencies in assessment, leading to grades 7-12 or K-12 certification.
Students who plan to qualify for the secondary school teaching certificate should declare a minor in secondary education during their first year or upon declaring a major. To this end, they should consult with the School of Education during their first year. For general academic purposes, students remain under the guidance of the program they are majoring in.
Westminster College is approved by the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the preparation of secondary education 7-12 and K-12 foreign languages and music education teachers. Students interested in secondary education select a major in a content field and a minor in secondary education. As such, they become candidates for the degree (BA, BS, or BM) appropriate to their discipline. Secondary school 7-12 teacher candidates are prepared in the following fields: biology, chemistry, social studies, English, mathematics, and physics. Secondary school K-12 teacher candidates are prepared in the following fields: Music, French, and Spanish.
All secondary education programs leading to certification require the Basic Skills Assessment or meeting the SAT/ACT score criteria and appropriate certification or specialty area tests. Graduates may be certified to teach in other states if they select their courses to meet the requirements for certification which apply in those states. Additional information for the music certification program may be obtained from the School of Education or the School of Music.
Students who successfully complete the secondary education program at Westminster College and the Basic Skills Assessment Examination requirements will be recommended for certification in Pennsylvania. Students who seek certification in other states can modify their programs accordingly. Generally, the courses leading to Pennsylvania certification are similar to those required by other states.
The Secondary Education Program can be completed in three phases: (1) Phase I: Foundation Courses; (2) Phase II: The Secondary Education Teaching and Learning Laboratory; and (3) Phase III: Candidacy and Capstone Experiences.
The Secondary Education Teaching and Learning Laboratory
The Secondary Education Teaching and Learning Laboratory (TLL) offers students an intense learning experience in theoretical frameworks and methods of education coupled with 150 hours of professional development series and practicum experience in Local Education Agencies. The Secondary Education TLL encompasses the following courses: EDU 351 and EDU 451. These courses are only offered during the fall semesters.
Requirements for entering the Secondary Education Teaching and Learning Laboratory are:
- A minimum all-college GPA of 3.000;
- Completion of the Writing, Oral Communications, and Inquiry portions of the Liberal Arts Core with grades of "C" or better;
- Completion of the secondary education foundation courses EDU 231, SED 201, ELL 206, EDU 572, and SED 572 with a minimum GPA of 3.000;
- Presentation and approval of a professional pre-candidacy portfolio, which includes experiences with adolescents.
Formal Admission to Teacher Candidacy
Secondary education students must be accepted as teacher candidates or enter the candidacy phase in the Secondary Education program before enrolling in EDU 451. The teacher candidacy process is required by the School of Education for enrollment in teacher preparation courses and practicum experiences. Failing to meet candidacy requirements will set a student back in their course progression and prevent the completion of the certification program. Secondary education minors must apply for candidacy review.
Requirements for entering Teacher Candidacy are:
- A minimum all-college GPA of 3.000;
- Completion of the mathematics requirement (six semester hours) with grades of "C" or better;
- Passing the Basic Skills Assessment in reading, writing, and mathematics; or qualifying scores on the SAT/ACT; or a combination of SAT/ACT scores and Basic Skills Assessment scores.
Special Requirements and Procedures for Teacher Certification Candidates
The School Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania require that the individual who intends to teach be of good moral character and possess the personal qualities, the professional knowledge, and the pedagogical skills which parents may expect to find in teachers to whom the education of children is entrusted. Students must meet certification requirements as set forth in the School Laws of Pennsylvania and the commonwealth-approved teacher education programs offered by the College.
It is the student's responsibility to complete and file the following documents and applications:
- A declaration of minor form for secondary education to be completed during the sophomore year;
- An advisement sheet needs to be completed in the spring semester of the sophomore year;
- An application for student teaching is to be completed by November 30 the year before the candidate plans to student teach;
- A review of the secondary education minor audit in the spring semester of the junior year;
- An application for state teaching certification during the final semester;
- Current PPD test prior to activities in the public schools; and
- Appropriate legal clearances prior to activities in the public schools. Students are advised to secure all clearances upon entrance to the program. Failure to do so may delay the timely completion of courses in sequence.
NOTE: Changes in state requirements take precedence over information printed in this Undergraduate Catalog.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires a battery of examinations for teacher certification candidates. Secondary education program minors must take the Basic Skills Assessment or submit SAT/ACT scores that meet the Pennsylvania Department of Education requirement to waive Basic Skills Assessment scores. The Basic Skills assessments must be passed prior to enrolling in EDU 451 Teaching in the Secondary School. Teacher candidates seeking certification in foreign languages and music education must pass the Fundamentals Subjects: Content Knowledge (5511) before entering candidacy and enrolling in EDU 451. It is strongly recommended that secondary education minors complete the certification or specialty area test before the fall semester of the senior year.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education establishes the teacher certification qualifying scores. Westminster's School of Education assists in preparing students for the Pearson and Praxis examinations. Please reference the Pennsylvania Department of Education website at: http://www.education.pa.gov/Educators/Certification/CertTestingRequirements/Pages/defaultaspx.
Continuance in the program depends on maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.000 and a GPA of 3.000 in the major. In all cases, only Westminster College courses are factored into the GPA calculation. Experience indicates that students who have difficulty attaining the required 3.000 GPA by the end of the sophomore year are also likely to experience difficulty passing the state certification examinations.
Students who have not attained a 3.000 by the time of the professional pre-candidacy portfolio review or who have not met the Praxis Series Examination requirements will be required to address the program screening panel.
Successful Completion of the Program Includes:
- Satisfactory completion of the prescribed coursework
- Qualifying scores on the appropriate Pennsylvania Department of Education certification tests
- Recommendation for Pennsylvania certification
Students who declare an intent to minor in Secondary Education are assigned an adviser in the program and provided opportunities to explore teaching. During the sophomore year, students must complete a declaration of minor form.
Students seeking to add a secondary education minor should not assume program approval is guaranteed. Admission into this minor is based upon a careful review of the following by a program screening panel: 1) GPA; 2) personal qualifications; 3) experiences with children/adolescents; 4) Basic Skills Assessment Examination scores, and 5) performance in courses offered by the program; 6) performance in all academic work.