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Comprehensive Standard 3.6.1

The institution's post-baccalaureate professional degree programs, and its master's and doctoral degree programs, are progressively more advanced in academic content than its undergraduate programs. (Post-baccalaureate program rigor)  

Judgement: Compliant

Narrative:  

Master’s degree programs at the University of South Carolina Upstate (USC Upstate) are progressively more advanced in academic content than undergraduate programs.  The post-baccalaureate template demonstrates the increased rigor for the graduate programs. Currently, all master’s degree programs are within the School of Education.  Each has been approved, aligned with National Board of Professional Standards, and has advanced learning outcomes. 

Degree programs have been approved by the USC Upstate faculty, the South Carolina Department of Education, and the South Carolina Commission of Higher Education (SCCHE).  All three bodies require advanced programs to have more rigorous academic content than undergraduate programs. 

The advanced programs’ curricula build on the foundation of candidates’ undergraduate programs.  All candidates have a valid South Carolina teaching certificate which guarantees that they have the prerequisite background in initial teacher preparation.  The master’s degree programs build on this foundation with advanced content in elementary education, early childhood education, and special education: visual impairment. 

All degree programs are closely aligned with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).  As noted on the NBPTS website: “Every child deserves an accomplished teacher—one who is qualified to equip students with the skills to succeed in the 21st century global community.  NBPTS Standards “… give teachers and schools the tools to define and measure teaching excellence.”  NBPTS Standards are based on the Five Core Propositions that form the foundation for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do.  In addition, the SCCHE Guidelines for New Program Approval requires, “programs at the graduate level that focus directly on teacher education (not educational leadership, etc.), should include a concise but complete description of how the proposed program addresses the core propositions of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.”

Learning outcomes of the advanced degree programs are defined by the core values of the School of Education Graduate Program.  Candidates demonstrate their attainment of learning outcomes through a professional portfolio (example available for review onsite).  In addition, each student’s portfolio must demonstrate attainment of Specialized Professional Association standards (Examples: early childhood, math education at the secondary level, middle school).  

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