April 19, 2000
Whitworth has Highest Teacher Placement Rate in State for Institutions with Undergraduate Certification Programs
More than 72 percent of Whitworth's 1997-98 certified teaching graduates were employed as teachers within a year of completing their degrees, the third highest placement rate in the state, according to a report issued by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Whitworth had the highest placement rate in the state among institutions offering undergraduate teacher-certification programs. The University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Puget Sound had slightly higher placement rates (78 percent), but both schools offer only master's level teacher-certification programs.
"The bulk of our students are in our undergraduate teacher education program, and undergraduates are much more likely than master's-level students to go on to graduate school or choose an alternative career path," says Dennis Sterner, dean of Whitworth's School of Education. "For programs offering undergraduate teacher certification, a 70-percent placement rate is considered to be nearly full employment."
The state superintendent's report documents that 3,303 teachers were certified in Washington during the 1997-98 school year, and 1,616, or 58.64 percent, of those graduates were employed as full-time teachers during the 1998-99 school year. Whitworth's School of Education certified 126 teachers and placed 91, or 72.22 percent, of its graduates during the reporting period. Among teacher-training programs on the East Side of the state, Whitworth had the highest placement rate and the third largest class of graduating teachers, behind Eastern Washington University (416) and Washington State University (346).
Whitworth's placement rates have consistently been among the highest in the state in recent years. Sterner credits several factors for the program's ongoing success, beginning with recruitment of top students. Nearly half of Whitworth's incoming freshmen graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. Once at Whitworth, Sterner says, students in the School of Education perform particularly well. Among Whitworth students who will be student teaching in the fall, the average college GPA is 3.6, he says.
Another important factor in Whitworth's success is the effectiveness of the School of Education's Office of Certification and Placement. Sterner formed the office in 1992 with the mandate to produce the highest teacher-placement rate in the state. The office's two-member staff works closely with personnel managers at school districts statewide to position Whitworth graduates for teaching jobs.
Staci Vesneske, director of certificated personnel for Spokane's District 81, says Whitworth's placement office staff is especially proactive in providing opportunities for its students to interact with school administrators leading up to the hiring season, and in counseling students on how to best focus their job searches. Whitworth's School of Education also prepares its graduates well to meet the changing needs of today's schools and students, Vesneske says.
"Whitworth constantly seeks feedback from districts, schools and administrators about what's working and what needs to be refined, and the college adapts its programs and courses quickly in order to accommodate what schools need from their teachers," she says. "Whitworth's program focuses on life-long learning and professional development so that their student teachers are expected to collaborate, plan and work in teams. This is critical for the educational reform process."
The most significant factor in the college's high placement rate may be the consistent success of Whitworth graduates in the classroom. In addition to being well prepared technically and well informed in their fields, Sterner says that Whitworth-trained teachers are known for their dedication to students.
"Because of our institutional, value-centered mission, we attract prospective teachers who really feel called to serve their students," he says. "Beyond that, our program places a particular emphasis on diversity and multicultural issues, so our graduates are equipped to succeed in a wide variety of settings and with a wide variety of students. Year in and year out, Whitworth-trained teachers perform well in the field, and that has given our program a wonderful reputation."
Dennis Sterner, Dean of Whitworth's School of Education, (509) 777-4411 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Orwig, director of communications, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4580 or email@example.com.
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