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Release: Jan. 31, 2003

Photo: Rebecca Anthony, director of the University of Iowa College of Education Placement Office, and Ann Feldmann, executive director of human resources for the Cedar Rapids School District, look over a version of the college's ePortfolio that has been modified for the district's use.

Cedar Rapids School District Adopts UI Eportfolio Model

The Cedar Rapids School District this semester is adopting a version of the University of Iowa College of Education's ePortfolio web-based data repository to more easily track its teachers' progress toward meeting new and tougher state licensure requirements.

The CRSD is the first organization outside the UI to use the ePorfolio model, although the Iowa City School District is considering adopting the model as well.

Developed by Rebecca Anthony, director of the UI College of Education's Placement Office, and John Achrazoglou, director of the college's Technology Center, the ePortfolio consists of free web space provided by the college to all declared education majors, a place where students can upload samples of their academic work - called "artifacts" -- from lesson plans and research to digitized photographs and audio and video files showing them working in schools as part of their student-teaching experience. Templates help students organize the materials so they can chart their progress toward meeting their academic requirements, as well as state and federal standards for teacher certification.

Education majors scheduled to graduate in May will be the first able to also use their ePortfolio websites as highly interactive showcases of their work as they apply for teaching positions around the country. Educators throughout their careers could use an ePortfolio as a professional development tool.

Anthony and Achrazoglou have long seen the potential for organizations outside the university benefiting from the ePorfolio model. When Ann Feldmann, executive director of human resources for the CRSD, heard Anthony talk about ePortfolios last year at a meeting of the Conference for Career Center Professionals she became intrigued.

Feldmann says the CRSD's decision to adopt ePortfolio was fueled by a new teacher licensing documentation and evaluation process required of Iowa teachers and administrators, largely because of the federal No Child Left Behind Act's call for greater accountability among schools. By the end of this academic year, districts must be prepared to demonstrate that they are meeting the new requirements.

Storing all the data in paper files would be a cumbersome task and the information contained in them difficult to assess by busy administrators. With the web-based system, the information will be just a mouse-click away.

"We are very excited about this partnership with the College of Education," Feldmann said. "It is another example of how the university and K-12 schools can work together for all learners and professionals. I have been familiar for some time with the cutting edge use of technology by UI education students, and this work brings the experience and ideas of the university to the doorstep of our teachers and principals."

With Anthony and Achrazoglou serving as consultants -- at no cost to the school district -- the CRSD has spent the past few months modifying the ePortfolio templates for its own use. Feldmann said final touches are being put on the web-based interface. Once that's done, possibly by this summer, all first-year teachers will be trained how to upload their information and then serve as mentors for other teachers.

The web space will be used to store lesson plans and other written, graphic, photographed or videotaped evidence that demonstrates they are meeting state standards, information that can then be viewed by school and district administrators. Some of the standards that have to be met under the new rules include:

* Demonstrates ability to enhance academic performance and support for implementation of the school district's student achievement goals.
* Demonstrates competence in content knowledge appropriate to the teaching position.
* Demonstrates competence in planning and preparing for instruction.
* Demonstrates competence in classroom management.

To satisfy the requirement that the teacher demonstrate competence in content knowledge, the teacher might put on her webpage a Quicktime video of her explaining to a group of students how to interpret data on a line plot, as well as a list of questions the teacher uses to ensure that students are adequately grasping the material covered in the class.

"Collaborating with the Cedar Rapids team has allowed the UI College of Education to strengthen school-to-work relationships, foster professional conversations, and enhance and advance teachers' career development," Anthony said. "This technology-based framework is accessible, easily negotiated, and is a compelling multidimensional tool that demonstrates the dynamics and complexities of good teaching practices. We invite all Iowa schools to use this model as a demonstration instrument and as a powerful means of documenting compliance with Iowa licensure requirements."

Copies of a recent white paper on the UI ePortfolio project can be ordered by contacting Anthony at (319) 335-5353, or via mailto:rebecca-anthony@uiowa.edu. A PDF version of the white paper is also available online at http://www.education.uiowa.edu/eportfolio/whitepaper.pdf.

Founded in 1872, the University of Iowa College of Education was the nation's first permanent college-level department of education. Since then the College has gained an international reputation of excellence in fields as diverse as rehabilitation counseling, testing and measurement, and language and literacy. It is home to the Iowa Testing Programs, developer of the widely used Iowa Tests of Basic Skills; to the Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development; and to such top-ranked programs as Rehabilitation Counseling, Counseling Psychology, Educational Psychology, Elementary Teacher Education, Secondary Teacher Education, and English Education and Literacy.

PHOTOS/GRAPHICS: A mock-up page of the Cedar Rapids School District ePortfolio page can be viewed online at http://www.education.uiowa.edu/CR842/.

OTHER INFORMATION: Information about the new state standards can be found at both http://www.sai-iowa.org/teachingstds.html and http://www.state.ia.us/educate/ecese/tqt/tc/documents.html.