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UWA College of Education gets failing marks erased

LIVINGSTON- For two years in a row now, the University of West Alabama Julia Tutwiler College of Education has received failing grades of ‘D’ and ‘F’ in their ability to produce quality first year teachers, but these grades have been proven to be false after investigations, which led to both grades being switched to ‘A’s’, but also damaging to the school’s reputation as being a teacher’s college. Both the Provost of the university Dr. David Taylor and the Dean of the College of Education Dr. Tom DeVaney want answers as to why these grades over the past two years have been wrong.

Taylor said this is the second year in a row that the college has been branded with erroneous data. He said the problems all lay with the Alabama Professional Education Personnel Evaluation Program (PEPE).

“The PEPE system is still very new, but it is also very flawed,” Taylor said.

He said PEPE is the evaluation of all professional public education personnel either by state-developed evaluation system or by one, which each school system may opt, to formulate pursuant to Board-established criteria. He also said through evaluating the education and teaching preparedness of teachers, the PEPE assessment also evaluates teacher education programs.

“I know these grades have hurt us over the past two years, but there really is nothing we can do because they send out a press release with all the universities grades, before we have a chance to investigate them,” Taylor said.

He said these grades have surely hurt the numbers of new students coming in that wanted to become educators, but he was unsure of the number. He also said these grades were damaging to the overall morale of the alumni and the faculty.

“I’m confident that Superintendent Morton will tackle the issues with PEPE and solve the problems,” Taylor said.

The Dean of the College of Education Dr. Tom DeVaney said he couldn’t understand how the State got the grades wrong again. He also said the college is graded on the number of teachers that graduated the year before who passed the evaluations.

“We had 100 students graduate last year and three of those students failed the PEPE evaluations and that is what earned us the ‘D’,” Devaney said.

He said after they received the grades, they started to investigate the grades just to make sure there were no mistakes, well they found some. He also said out of the three teachers that failed two were second year teachers and their scores don’t count towards the PEPE evaluation grade.

“I don’t know how they could have made that mistake twice because it says in the process that second year teachers do not have to go through PEPE,” Devaney said.

He said there are some flaws that need to be worked out in the PEPE system. He also said at the last meeting that he attended of the Deans of Colleges of Education Regional meeting, they worked on some changes to the system an then sent them to Superintendent Morton.

“It’s not just us that has been effected by these kind of grades, but its every institute in the State,” Devaney said.

He said they’ve had seven failures in the past two years at the College of Education, but none of those were legal failures after they investigated them. He also said in one case there was a student that was graded wrong on his evluation, when someone gave him zeros when the lowest they can give is a one and that caused him to fail.

“PEPE is a professional development system and it has no validity in the way the colleges prepares teachers,” Devaney said.