Administrators of the NIU College of Education and Elgin Community College are preparing a “2+2” agreement that aligns ECC coursework with 100- and 200-level general education courses at NIU.
Upon completion of their associate degrees, students then are welcome to transfer to NIU’s main campus in DeKalb – or, if it’s more convenient, to take upper-level NIU courses taught by NIU professors on the ECC campus.
Clinical and student-teaching experiences also will take place in Elgin or in nearby communities, further enhancing the benefits of staying local. Meanwhile, either option promotes four-year graduation by connecting the degree requirements between NIU and ECC.
“One of the things we know about some of our students who are interested in pursuing our B.S.Ed. in Elementary Education is that they’re place-bound,” said Anne Gregory, chair of the NIU Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
“What the 2+2 will do is allow us, with Elgin, to create seamless transitions,” Gregory added. “We’re also going to provide degree completion on their campus, bringing our program and our coursework to a place where people need to stay. It’s a win-win.”
Gregory identifies another “win-win” for NIU and the Kane County school districts in and around Elgin.
“This will create a greater impact in the local communities of learning by growing teachers to work in those communities,” she said. “ECC’s proximity to the U-46 and Huntley school districts really solidifies the relationships we already have with those two districts.”
Sean Jensen, director of Transfer Services for Elgin Community College, worked with Gregory and Margaret Myles, director of College of Education Student Services, to draft the agreement. Conversations began on news that NIU’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction will shift its Elementary Education program from “select” entry to “direct” entry.
“NIU is the top transfer destination for our students, and this update was of particular interest to us as it will allow students to complete the NIU bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education on the ECC campus,” Jensen said.
“It’s really beneficial for our students because we do have many who are place-bound. Many work in this area, or have other responsibilities,” he added. “For those students who want to follow the more traditional path to NIU in DeKalb, that still exists.”
Although the first group of students will officially begin NIU’s program in Fall 2018, Gregory said the College of Education will offer some “transitional” courses next spring in Elgin. Enrolling in these courses, such as children’s literature and foundations of education, will enable candidates to test the waters and determine if they are good fits for the NIU program.
Meanwhile, next spring will bring the first round of interviews for students who want to major in Elementary Education.
“During the second semester of their sophomore year, our native NIU students interview for entrance into the program. What we’re looking for in these interviews is what supports we can provide so they can be successful in reaching their goals,” Gregory said.
“Just as our native students do with our faculty members, the ECC students will apply and go through the interview process in the semester prior to coming to our main campus or in completing their degree at ECC,” she added.
ECC students interested in the NIU program will meet with their academic advisers to discuss their interest in the NIU degree and to register for the appropriate general education credits and prerequisite courses, Jensen said.
Graduates of NIU’s B.S.Ed. in Elementary Education program are prepared to work with children in first- through sixth-grades, typically offering instruction in all subject areas. Thanks to lessons grounded in theory, research and best practices, they are ready to teach in a wide variety of linguistic, socio-economic and cultural contexts.
Licensure candidates select from one of four pathways: They can minor in Elementary Mathematics Education, or select from either Bilingual/ESL, Reading Teacher or Special Education to earn an additional endorsement as part of their required coursework.
Passage of the edTPA, required to obtain teacher licensure in Illinois and several other states, is almost a given. One hundred percent of NIU Elementary Education undergrads who submitted edTPA materials this spring passed.