Kirkwood students see more efficient path forward in elementary education with UI partnership

Kirkwood Community College students now have a simpler path to completing their teaching education through an expanded partnership with the University of Iowa.

The two institutions have created an articulation agreement that ensures students are taking the foundational courses needed to satisfy both general education and UI College of Education course requirements.

Once they’ve received their associate of arts degree at Kirkwood, students who have met application requirements can seamlessly transition into the UI’s elementary education program in order to earn their degree and licensure to teach elementary education, college officials say. Kirkwood students who have followed the course path are guaranteed entry into the elementary education program.

Mark McDermott, UI College of Education associate dean for teacher education and student services, said this articulation agreement is, in part, a reaction to hearing students who have transitioned between the two schools in the past wishing they had a better understanding of what courses were best to take to streamline their education.

“In a lot of ways we’ve partnered with Kirkwood for a long time, we’ve had a number of students who have started at Kirkwood and then come here to finish their teaching licensure,” McDermott said. “This was really the result of us wanting to make sure that we created as efficient, but as clear a path as possible for students that were going to transition from Kirkwood to here to get a teaching license.”

Kirkwood Dean of Social Sciences Amanda Humphrey said faculty and staff at both institutions worked hard to identify which classes to place in the pipeline in order to satisfy requirements, but the college only needed to add a couple new courses. They were repackaging, she said, rather than starting again with a blank slate.

“What’s cool about (the agreement) is it’s not a widespread overhaul, but it is just identifying a couple of small pieces that sometimes can impact whether a student can start as a sophomore, and stay a sophomore when they transfer, or if they can go ahead and start as a junior and then actually be already accepted into the College of Education,” Humphrey said.

With the background work done and the pipeline now in place for students after launching this fall, Humphrey said representatives from the UI are now coming to the Cedar Rapids campus to aid Kirkwood staff in engaging with education students about this opportunity.

One group Kirkwood hopes will engage with the pipeline is high school students who are already interested in education training. The community college’s regional center at the University of Iowa hosts an education academy for students taking concurrent high school and college courses.  Humphrey said with this agreement, future teachers will be able to get through their schooling even faster and more efficiently.

McDermott emphasized that helping students more easily transition between the two programs is in no way lessening the quality of the education, or making the courses any less rigorous. It’s important for students to recognize early the time and work that needs to be put in to become the kind of teachers needed in schools today, he said.

Kirkwood and the UI share this mission and a vision of making teaching education as available as they can, he said, in order to shape more and stronger teachers.

“We want to create teachers who are going to be really effective, and who are going to stick with it, who are going to be retained in the profession that’s really important to us,” McDermott said. “And so, in my mind, that doesn’t happen if they haven’t been prepared as well, and so we need to make sure that there’s efficient pathways but also really effective pathways.”

Story by Brooklyn Draisey for the Iowa Capital Dispatch. Republished with permission.