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College of Education Prioritization

Metropolitan Omaha Educational Consortium (MOEC)

February 2001

I.          Centrality to roles and missions and strategic plans of the University and the campus.

The Metropolitan Omaha Educational Consortium=s mission is central to the mission of the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  The consortium provides outreach and partnerships that address the concerns and interests of the broader external communities.

The consortium is a strong, even powerful voice as the member school districts enroll approximately 100,000 students attending 187 different schools and taught or guided by 8,312 certified professional educators.  The MOEC districts enroll more than 30% of the public school students in the state of Nebraska.  MOEC is one of the longest-standing and largest educational collaboratives in the United States.

The mission statement of the consortium clearly defines the partnership role:

The Metropolitan Omaha Educational Consortium (MOEC) seeks to improve communication, efficiency, and effectiveness among the participating school districts and the College of Education.  It enhances the ability of these groups to work together in addressing the common problems and challenges of educating youth in a metropolitan environment.  Through the consortium the members will achieve together what they could not achieve singularly.

The consortium’s mission to improve the education of area youth is achieved through collective efforts and joint advocacy in:

-           Research, evaluation and development

-           In-Service training and expansion of pre-service and beginning teacher             model efforts

-           Formulation of common practices and/or positions

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-           Grant-seeking activities

II.        Need and Demand

MOEC collaboration provides the essential linkages with P-12 educators in the metropolitan area for the facilitation of program planning and improvement in the college.  The task force structure, with a schedule of regular meetings, provides college personnel with the opportunity to consult with P-12 personnel relative to needs and services.  This communication has been especially valuable as the college has worked to increase enrollment in graduate programs. 

A survey relative to the use of the college’s distance learning classroom facility has just been distributed to task force members and valuable responses are being received.  The responses will predictably result in greater distance learning program opportunities.

In addition, the formalized structure and function of the consortium provides clear documentation of the college’s collaboration for the review team of the National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE).  NCATE is the accrediting body that affirms the quality of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s teacher training program.  NCATE standards have been recently revised and require colleges to demonstrate that their teacher candidates have made a difference in the performance of P-12 students.  The existing MOEC framework provides a network to assist in gathering the data needed for program improvement and the  NCATE review team.

Standards and assessment and teacher shortage issues are of particular concern to the P-12 practitioners at this time.  The MOEC Assessment Task Force is chaired by a faculty member from the college.  The task force has met with the Commissioner of the Nebraska State Department of Education to provide input as the standards are being developed and to receive insight relative to the reporting procedures.  The Commissioner values the opportunity to meet

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on this issue and other issues of importance to educators working in a metropolitan setting.  The Human Resources Task Force is chaired by a school district administrator.  The Task Force has worked to address teacher evaluation and teacher salary issues, has researched the teacher shortage issue in the state of Nebraska, and has addressed the substitute teacher shortage.

III.       Quality and Outcomes of Teaching/Learning

MOEC has provided an extensive array of workshop and training opportunities for personnel from member organizations.  The area of emphasis and the number of training events servicing approximately 1,000 educators in recent years includes:

-           Elementary Education Practices (5 events)

-           Summer Leadership Symposium (Annual event)

-           Safe Schools (15 events)

-           Human Resources (2 events)

-           Technology (1 event)

-           Community Relations (3 events)

-           Middle Level (1 event)

-           Assessment (2 events) 

-           Substitute Teacher Training (Twice Yearly Events)

-           Student Services (1 event)

Each of the activities was planned to meet current needs within the P-12 school environment.  The events also provide faculty and students the opportunity to access current training on issues that will need to be addressed in the curriculum in a collaborative environment with practitioners.  Clearly, these activities contribute to the quality of academic programs in higher education as well as K-12.

Two of the events listed above are held yearly or twice yearly.  The Summer

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Leadership Symposium, comprised of sixteen sessions, places graduate students in Educational Administration and Supervision in direct contact with the administrative leadership in each of the MOEC districts as those leaders provide the instruction for specific sessions and topics ranging from leadership, to school finance, to human resources issues, etc. 

Substitute training arose from the need to address the shortage of substitutes in the metro area classrooms.  The first step involved the Human Resources Task Force members meeting with State Department officials regarding the question of who can fill the substitute positions.  Because of this input, and input from other districts in the state, it was determined that a category of personnel identified as local option substitutes could be employed even though these individuals may not have a college degree.  Districts have used this privilege carefully.   Inherent in the requirement was training for the substitutes being employed.  The project has involved twice annual training for any substitutes identified.  In addition, a substitute manual was developed.  The manual was a project of the CADRE Associates.

As mentioned under Point II., regular contact with school district personnel provides an immediate evaluation of the quality of teachers being trained in our college.  Input is regularly received from members of various task forces including: Human Resources, Middle Level, and Curriculum and Instruction.  This framework will facilitate the gathering of data for program improvement and the NCATE review.

IV.       Quality and Outcomes of Research/Creative Activity

Specific research conducted as a result of MOEC activity includes:

            The MOEC CADRE program research, conducted over a six year period, has provided evidence of significant enhancement of teaching practices for beginning teachers.  This evidence provided strong support in the application and funding of the CADRE II: The Arts grant from the Getty Foundation.  In addition, the evidence has

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influenced course syllabi and other practices within the college.

The CADRE Project is a teacher renewal and induction program involving experienced teachers in member districts selected by the respective district human resources department to participate in the project.  These experienced teachers serve in a CADRE Associate role that includes the mentoring of beginning teachers.  There are two beginning teachers for each associate.  The beginning teachers are college employees with compensation comparable to one-half of a beginning teacher=s salary.  They engage in an intensive graduate program that leads to a master’s degree within two summers and one school year.

CADRE Associates assume responsibility for some college assigned responsibilities, therefore benefiting the college in terms of personnel to carry out necessary tasks.

The Mentor Project has collected qualitative data that has contributed to the development of district mentor plans throughout the metropolitan area.  This program has a successful twelve year history and provides comprehensive foundational training for MOEC district induction programs.  Mentoring is at the forefront of the national, state and local agenda, since statistics indicate that teachers are most likely to leave the profession within the first three years of their employment.  The Mentor Project serves as a bridge between teacher preparation at the University and initial teaching experiences that has proved to be valuable to the University and to the districts. The University has used research information provided by the project for pre-service evaluations and feedback as well as course improvement.  The school districts have used research information provided by the project to develop comprehensive, district-specific induction programs.  The school districts as well as the University have found the project


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to be a successful tool for recruitment and retention.

            The Teacher Availability Study sponsored by MOEC provided data to be used to inform policymakers.  It was the primary resource document referenced in the Omaha 2000 document, AThe Teacher Shortage Dilemma in Omaha and Nebraska.@  In addition, the data gives school district administrators a research based look at the situation in the metro area.

V.        Quality and Outcomes of Service to the Public and University

It is within this area that MOEC has the strongest performance.  MOEC provides direct linkages with local school districts in the areas of:

-           School Leadership

-           Curriculum and Instruction

-           Staff  Development

-           Program Assessment

-           Student Services

-           Human Resources

-           Technology

The MOEC task force structure thrives on the interaction and input from the participating faculty and staff of the college and the participating school district personnel.  In addition to College of Education personnel, participation by Arts & Sciences, Fine Arts, and University personnel from Human Resources are involved.

The direct linkage and regularly scheduled meetings facilitate and, in fact, require college personnel to provide outreach and establish partnerships that address the concerns and interests of the broader external community. The consortium has become a model for other universities and numerous presentations at national conferences have been made to share the

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MOEC procedures and projects.

VI.       Human, Fiscal, and Physical Resources

             A consortium, by definition, provides the framework for collaborative activities

that result in greater economies in human, fiscal and physical resources.  In MOEC, the eight member organizations contribute an equal amount towards the organizational expenses.  In addition, the college supports an additional one-half cost for a secretary.  In turn, the secretary performs many tasks other than those related to MOEC.  The University benefits from its participation in many ways including the following:  access to conduct research, input regarding course contact and relativity, improved potential for employment of college graduates and improved potential to recruit high school students to attend the college.

In other situations, university personnel who are preparing grant applications often seek the unified support of school district personnel through the MOEC structure.  A collaborative opens opportunities for sharing meeting spaces or joining in sponsoring speakers and other resource personnel.

During the college=s fiftieth anniversary celebration, consortium members were key in making the event a success by providing performing groups, exhibits, and physical resources such as an electronic piano.  In preparation for the upcoming NCATE review in November of 2001, executive steering committee members have already been advised of the approximate time they will be asked to meet with the review team.  This resource of key persons in the community will be valuable to the review team in their determination regarding their accreditation recommendations for the college=s educator preparation programs.  Because of the executive committee=s regularly scheduled contact with university personnel and programs, the committee will be better informed to respond to review team questions.

VII.      Impact

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Much of the impact of the consortium has been described in previous sections of this report.  The following summarizes some of the specific areas of impact:

1.         Program changes, i.e.; middle-level course work, inclusion of more student management training in existing courses, development of the TAP program

2.         Collaborative efforts in standards and assessment criteria for P-12 schools

3.         Support for National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation for the college

4.         Placement fairs for graduating students

5.         Extensive staff training in a breadth of educational issues over a twelve year period (documentation available)

6.         New teacher induction

VIII.    Cooperation and Partnership with Other Programs      

MOEC serves as a communication link across the seven contiguous metropolitan school districts and offers the opportunity for the districts to collaboratively address issues of mutual concern.  Issues currently being addressed are:

1.         Teacher shortages

2.         Teacher salaries

­            3.         Teacher quality

            4.         Distance learning

5.         Teacher induction

6.         Technology assessment

7.         School safety assessments

8.         State education standards and assessment

9.         School finance

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IX.       Other Unique Dimensions of Program

Although not organized for political action purposes, it has become apparent this is an important arena for MOEC involvement.  Decision making groups come to MOEC seeking the consensus support they need on a variety of issues.

The Executive Steering Committee, recognizing the strength of their position representing almost one-third of the student enrollment in the State of Nebraska, has supported various position statements and letters of support for the schools and the college.  Most recently, a letter has been drafted relative to substitute teacher certification issues and another in regard to teacher salaries.  Two years ago in late August, the Executive Steering Committee joined together in a press conference in Milo Bail Student Center announcing their attention to the issue of school safety and appealed to the community to support schools in this effort.

The college has benefited from letters of support on grants, funding positions, and other issues.  The Executive Steering Committee determined that issue advocacy would, in fact, be the priority for this year for the committee and for the organization.

MOEC activities culminate each year with summary reports being presented at the Showcase meeting.  This gathering of the Executive Steering Committee and the Task Force members provides an opportunity for sharing and discussion.