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Six School of Education programs ranked in Top 20 by US News

Six School of Education programs were ranked among the Top 20 in their fields in graduate school rankings conducted by US News & World Report.

The School’s ranked programs:
Special Education: 12th
Education Administration and Supervision: 13th
Student Counseling and Personnel Services: 13th (tie)
Curriculum and Instruction: 16th
Secondary Teacher Education: 17th (tie)
Educational Psychology: 19th

“Our programs’ strong rankings reflect the faculty’s investment in our professional programs,” said Bill McDiarmid, dean of the School of Education. “As scholars at a research-intensive university, they are evaluated heavily on their research productivity rather than their contribution to academic programs. It is to their great credit that they devote so much thought and effort to ensuring our students are well served, often sacrificing their research time.”

The rankings were included in the magazine’s annual survey of graduate programs, published in March.

The School of Education has embarked on several initiatives aimed at further bolstering the School’s work and contributions to the University and state, McDiarmid said.

“We have spent considerable time the last couple years working on our strategic plan, adjusting our activities to our significantly reduced resources, establishing a new faculty governance structure, and revising both our teacher preparation programs and our Ph.D. programs,” he said. “These changes will strengthen collaboration among our faculty and offer students new and, we believe, exciting opportunities to learn and develop as teachers and scholars.”

Overall, US News’s rankings listed the School of Education at 34th, down from 29th last year. Two large research grants ended last year, resulting in a significant decline in external funding. This contributed substantially to the five-place drop in the overall ranking. Faculty submissions of proposals for external grants are up this year, foreshadowing a potential rise in rankings within the next year or two.

Despite a 25 percent decrease in state funding during the last three years, the School is moving forward on initiatives designed to help address the most pressing needs in public education, McDiarmid said.

“Among these are a new minor in education launching this fall that will provide undergraduates who are not necessarily preparing to become teachers a solid understanding of the educational landscape and the policy issues affecting education,” McDiarmid said.

In addition, the minor should improve the preparation of the large number of undergraduates who join Teach for America upon graduation. Nearly 70 undergraduates applied for the new minor – far more than the School anticipated. Forty of these students were accepted into the first cohort for the fall semester, well above the initial 25 we expected to admit.

Other initiatives:

  • The School also has implemented a new “assured enrollment” program that promises admission into the School’s baccalaureate programs to select first-year students who maintain a minimum grade-point average during their first two years.
  • The UNC-BEST program, a collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences that offers an opportunity for Carolina math and science majors to earn licensure as secondary science or mathematics teachers, continues to grow. Currently, 40 undergraduates are enrolled.
  • The School has expanded its Masters of Education for Experienced Teachers program to accommodate growing interest among international teachers, starting with an initiative to train a cohort of teachers from China. The first group of seven Chinese teachers will arrive this summer.
  • The School is working to expand opportunities for students to teach overseas. Eighteen teacher education students just returned from a three and a half weeks student teaching experience in Beijing.

“We are also working to create a Latino/a educational consortium for research and engagement,” McDiarmid said. “Professor Marta Civil and her colleagues in the School and across campus have begun to meet to plan such a consortium. During the past year, Dr. Civil invited in a remarkable group of scholars who focus on Latino/a issues to both stimulate and inform the conversation and advise us on how best to proceed.”

“The challenge we continue to face is how best to engage schools, families, communities, and policymakers in ways that our research and practices can contribute to improving the lives of children across the state and nation.”