Institutional Infrastructure - Common Standard 1

Common Standard 1: Institutional Infrastructure to Support Educator Preparation
Each Commission-approved institution has the infrastructure in place to operate effective educator preparation programs

Vision Statement and Research Base

The institution and education unit create and articulate a research-based vision of teaching and learning that fosters coherence among, and is clearly represented in all educator preparation programs. This vision is consistent with preparing educators for California public schools and the effective implementation of California’s adopted standards and curricular frameworks. 

Overview of Cal Poly and the School of Education: Founded in 1901 as a state vocational high school, Cal Poly has evolved into a comprehensive polytechnic university with an emphasis on experiential learning. The School of Education (SOE) embodies Cal Poly’s "learn-by-doing" approach to instruction.

Housed within the College of Science and Mathematics (CSM), the SOE closely links education, math, and science faculty with school educators on curriculum, instruction, and supervision; applied scholarship; and service to teachers, schools, and the profession. In addition to housing the SOE, the CSM also houses the Center for Engineering, Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) and the department of Liberal Studies, which provides subject matter preparation to undergraduates who aspire to teach in the elementary grades. 

The SOE vision reflects a universitywide commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Our mission extends the University’s principles of inquiry, collaboration, equity, and pluralism into the expectations for practice and the preparation of education professionals. The SOE recently adopted new Schoolwide Learning Themes that provide a platform for continuous improvement and a common lens for anchoring dialogue, professional development, and inquiry and assessment projects across the SOE. 

Research Base - Learn By Doing and Continuous Improvement: Experiences in the Cal Poly School of Education are deeply grounded in Learn by Doing; candidates collaborate with faculty and work alongside experts in the field to hone their teaching craft. Learn by Doing embeds Cal Poly’s innovative polytechnic approach to higher education with best practices and theories in education by building a Community of Practice that emphasizes continuous improvement and a culture of shared learning.

In order to build a successful Learn by Doing program, great care goes into thoughtfully structuring and intentionally articulating all aspects of the educator preparation, including: defining roles of faculty, coaches, and candidates; providing training and support in coaching strategies; developing thoughtful shared language around teaching practices; and designing scaffolded supports for candidates that are leveraged at each phase preparation. The SOE draws from research, best practices, and the shared values of our community members in order to intentionally document and communicate the principles and values of our Community of Practice, and to build meaningful connections between the Cal Poly campus and the field.

The Cal Poly School of Education further advances a shared vision of effective teaching and learning through the SOE Observation Tool, which articulates 17 Prioritized Skills at the center of effective teaching practice. The SOE worked across stakeholders from faculty, staff, and partner districts to design the SOE Observation Tool using research from the Danielson Framework, UDL, the TPEs, and HLPs. While future educators study the theories and best practices behind these Prioritized Skills in their coursework, the SOE offers workshops and professional development resources for Cooperating Teachers, school site administrators, and our surrounding community in order to norm our collective understanding of the SOE Observation tool, and to encourage common language. By developing shared expectations and norms grounded in the Observation Tool, we tighten the relationship between the School of Education and fieldwork sites, creating a more coherent experience for our Candidates. Fostering this shared vision of teaching and learning also serves to demystify effective teaching practice and reveals a transparent development path for Candidates as they uncover and honor their own craft as future educators.

The final linchpin in Cal Poly’s approach to educator preparation is building a community that embraces continuous improvement, along with the risk-taking that is inherent in that process. The SOE engages in continuous improvement by applying   research based practices such as Improvement Science, Data Discussion Protocols, and comprehensive assessment planning. Learn by Doing and continuous improvement both require future educators, and the experts with whom they work, to be open to new ideas, implement innovative strategies, assess, and reflect on resulting successes and inevitable failures. Developing these practices requires vulnerability, willingness to change, and the ability to own missteps. By encouraging these habits, however, the SOE ensures that future educators will be prepared for advanced studies in education, action research, and a commitment to continuous growth that will improve their practice and the outcomes of their students throughout their careers.

Governance & Policy Documents

The education unit ensures that faculty and instructional personnel regularly and systematically collaborate with colleagues in P-12 settings, college and university units and members of the broader educational community to improve educator preparation.

The institution provides the unit with sufficient resources for the effective operation of each educator preparation program, including, but not limited to, coordination, admission, advisement, curriculum, professional development/instruction, field based supervision and clinical experiences.  

The Unit Leadership has the authority and institutional support required to address the needs of all educator preparation programs and considers the interests of each program within the institution.

Governance & Policy Documents: The School of Education believes that shared governance, transparency, and collaboration are key to meaningful and continuous improvement of our educator preparation programs. Major governing documents guide effective operations and management of SOE personnel and resources, including:

Stakeholder Engagement

The institution actively involves faculty, instructional personnel, and relevant stakeholders in the organization, coordination, and decision making for all educator preparation programs. 

SOE Committees & Stakeholder Engagement: Many opportunities for faculty, staff, and stakeholders to engage in decision making are articulated in the SOE Governance Document Article II. Section II-IV, Article III, Section I-IV (PDF).  The table below summarizes the SOE committees and opportunities for stakeholder engagement:

All meetings are broadcast over Zoom to facilitate broad participation from members of our SOE unit and our partners.

Engaging Partner District Stakeholders: In addition to engaging faculty, staff, and stakeholders through committees and transparent governance, the SOE is committed to working as a community-based educator preparation program. The unit regularly partners with the local school districts who host Education Candidates for Clinical Practice, who collaborate on special projects, and who frequently employ our SOE alumni. Supported by funding from major grant initiatives from TQP and Bechtel, the SOE has been working to develop an innovative model for Partner Districts to engage in organization, coordination, and decision making with the unit. With key Partner Districts leading the way, the SOE is ultimately working to develop and pilot a model for shared engagement that will eventually become the norm across the unit and all districts with whom we work. 

In addition to developing a sustaining Partner District Model, individual members of the SOE regularly collaborate with local district leaders, both formally and informally. The SOE Director attends meetings of the local Superintendents Council and has a standing agenda item to report on SOE efforts and to solicit questions and feedback from the superintendents. The Director and the Clinical Practice Coordinator meet with superintendents, as needed, to discuss ongoing collaboration for Clinical Practice placements and processes. Two local County Superintendents serve as adjunct faculty to the Educational Leadership and Administration Program and have advisory meetings with the ELAP Coordinator to provide feedback that informs the continuous improvement of the ELAP program and the preparation of future administrators.

Examples of Shared Governance and Decision Making: The SOE's commitment to shared governance for continuous improvement is demonstrated in several recent programmatic changes. In each case, the need for change was identified by SOE Stakeholders (faculty, instructors, staff, or partners), the case for change was advocated by the SOE Director and Coordinating Council, and  the institution ultimately supported SOE leadership with the authority to implement change. Recent examples include:

  • Elevation of the SOE master's specializations to separate master's degrees 
  • Proposal to establish an ad-hoc SOE Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, with pending amendment to the Governance Document to create a standing committee
  • Revising forms and flowcharts associated to create comprehensive Admissions and Evaluations Flowchart (PDF)
  • Development of Student Handbook (PDF) with amended Grievance Process
  • Development of the SOE Observation Tool and protocols for Clinical Practice in coordination with a subcommittee of members from SOE Partner Districts
  • Revision of Clinical Practice Evaluation Plan (PDF) and amendments to WPAF Evaluation Plan (PDF) for Clinical Practice Supervisors 
  • Ongoing development of the Clinical Practice model and partnership framework with districts, including a revised Clinical Practice MOU (PDF)
  • Creation, search, and hiring for the role of Clinical Practice Coordinator (PDF)
  • Revision of Health Education practices and development of the new EDUC 402/470 PE/Health Education Methods (PDF) course 
  • Revision of the SOE's practices for evaluating candidate Speech Proficiency (PDF)
  • Establishing  state-side support for summer courses

Recruitment, Hiring, Development and Evaluation

Recruitment and faculty development efforts support hiring and retention of faculty who represent and support diversity and excellence. 

The institution employs, assigns and retains only qualified persons to teach courses, provide professional development, and supervise field-based and clinical experiences.  Qualifications of faculty and other instructional personnel must include, but are not limited to:  a) current knowledge of the content; b) knowledge of the current context of public schooling including the California adopted P-12 content standards, frameworks, and accountability systems; c) knowledge of diversity in society, including diverse abilities, culture, language, ethnicity, and gender orientation; and d) demonstration of effective professional practices in teaching and learning, scholarship, and service.

Hiring and Evaluation:

Cal Poly Statement on Diversity & Hiring: Per Cal Poly policy, vacancy announcements are not to be approved for posting until the Office of University Diversity and Inclusion (OUDI) approves the Recruitment Plan. A comprehensive recruitment plan must list one or more recruitment sources directed to broadening the diversity of the applicant pool. The recruitment plan might include advertising in a journal targeted to a group that is underrepresented in a department; advertising on a targeted website, doing targeted mailings; contacting individual faculty and administrators at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs); or utilizing existing networks within the department, school/college and the university.  

Retention and Development: As part of our commitment to create a unitwide Community of Practice, the SOE offers new employee orientation and ongoing professional development opportunities through quarterly Continuous Learning Conversations, program-level learning communities, staff trainings, Clinical Practice Supervisor workshops, Cooperating Teacher trainings, and the SOE Wiki of resources for faculty and staff. Additional evidence of these development opportunities is available with our Clinical Practice and Continuous Improvement materials. 

SOE 2018-19 Continuous Learning Conversations
Annual Theme: EMPOWERED -- Responding to Diverse Learning Needs

  • Fall Retreat: Revisiting Restorative Practices for Educators with Guest Speaker L. Flippin
  • Fall: Updates and Critical Questions from the CSM Committee on Diversity and Inclusivity presented by O. Navarro
  • Winter: Confronting Unconscious Biases for Future Educators with K. Mansager from the Office of University Diversity and Inclusion
  • Winter: Gaming to Foster Leadership and Support Diverse Learning Needs with SOE Faculty Scholar A. Byrne
  • Spring: Accessible Document Design for Diverse Learning Needs (TENTATIVE) with SOE Technology Coordinator and CTLT.
  • Spring: High Leverage Practices -- Math and Literacy Methods (TENTATIVE) with SOE Faculty Scholars J. Bauer, T. Flushman, and J. Jensen.

SOE 2017-18 Continuous Learning Conversations
Annual Theme: INFORMED -- Advancing Disciplinary Knowledge


The education unit monitors a credential recommendation process that ensures that candidates recommended for a credential have met all requirements.

Credential Evaluations and Recommendations: Evaluation of credential candidates and submission of credential recommendations are provided solely by Cal Poly SOE Credential Office, following the processes outlined in the Admissions and Evaluations Flow Chart. Final authority and oversight for recommendations is entrusted to the Credential Analyst II, under supervision of the SOE Director and with continuous monitoring and collaboration with partners across the education unit.

The SOE Director monitors the credential evaluation and recommendation process through regular meetings and evaluations of the Credential Analysts. The SOE Director meets with all critical staff members once a quarter, and the Director and Credential Analysts meet as a credentialing team on alternating weeks. The SOE Director conducts formal evaluations of each Credential Analyst on a yearly basis, and has recently conducted quarterly evaluations of a new Credential Analyst Trainee hire during the probationary period.

The SOE Assessment & Accreditation Analyst also engages in collaboration and monitoring with the Credential Analysts to ensure adherence to CTC Accreditation policies. The Assessment & Accreditation Analyst meets formally with the Credential Analyst during quarterly staff meetings and during monthly meetings of the ad hoc Staff Committee on Data Management. The Assessment & Accreditation Analyst and the Credential Analysts consistently collaborate and share in monitoring around Subject Matter Waivers, candidate evaluations, and preparation of the submission to the CTC Annual Data System.

Finally, the Credential Analysts are required to attend all meetings of the SOE Coordinating Council, as well as all meetings of the MSTEP program and the SSTEP program. During these meetings, the Credential Analysts make regular reports of their efforts and recommendations for ongoing improvement of unit processes. In this way, the coordinators and faculty of all SOE programs regularly and systematically participate and monitor the ongoing efficiency and validity of credentialing processes.

Candidate Monitoring Documents:

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School of Education
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407