UTRGV joins project seeking to improve education preparation

Getting into the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate is tough, but the College of Education of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley pulled it off.

Last month, UTRGV announced the college’s admission into CPED, a consortium of more than 100 schools of education in the United States, Canada and New Zealand working together to improve professional preparation in education at the highest level.

Alma Rodriguez, dean of the College of Education, said having one of the college’s doctoral programs admitted into CPED would have been cause for celebration, but UTRGV got two in: the Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership.

The college’s application was done so well that CPED waived its usual interview process for prospective members, and Rodriguez said the high quality of the application submission speaks well of the work of the college’s doctoral faculty.

“In applying for this inclusion of our program into this project, and the fact that the application having received accolades for this high quality, speaks very highly of the program itself,” she said.

“We are very proud of the work that our doctoral faculty have been doing. We are very proud of our programs and the opportunity (they) provide for our community — to have a quality doctoral program available here in the Rio Grande Valley for our teachers to pursue their higher education.”

UTRGV Associate Professor Laura Jewett, the education college’s doctoral coordinator for Curriculum and Instruction and the principal investigator on CPED, said the membership puts the college’s graduates “at the forefront of helping make educational change.”

“While we have students from around the United States, the majority of our students are from right here in the Valley,” she said. “And so having a critical mass of students who are not only committed to educational change, but have the knowledge and skills to create that change and then research the impact of those changes, is pretty significant.”

Jewett, who initiated the CPEC application process, said the college began the work of becoming part of CPED in 2016, when it launched a “self study” of its programs and identified short- and long-term goals for capitalizing on the programs’ strengths in order to better serve students.

“The Carnegie project, you can think of it like a think tank on the doctoral degrees in education,” she said. “Those are special degrees because they’re professional degrees, not unlike law or medicine.”

Jewett noted that the doctoral role of colleges of education is sometimes overlooked.

“You think about colleges of education teaching teachers, but they also teach central-level administrators,” she said. “They teach people who work for state departments of education, people who work for community colleges and universities as well. These are the people that in the future are going to teach teachers. Doctoral education is a super important component of a college of education.”

With admission into CPEC, the Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Leadership doctorate programs are recognized as being among the best in the nation, Jewett said.

Rodriguez said the CPEC membership makes for a powerful advertisement for the College of Education.

“This is definitely an added bonus for our program having this recognition, because it should certainly help us attract more highly qualified individuals to pursue a doctorate degree with us,” she said.