Walden University’s President Jonathan Kaplan testified on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor hearing on “Supporting America's Educators: The Importance of Quality Teachers and Leaders” on May 4, 2010.
In his testimony, President Kaplan described the significant obligation of Walden’s Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership to demonstrate how its graduates are effective teachers and are making a positive impact on the children they teach.
“At Walden, we are proud of the fact that more than 40,000 teachers and other educators have chosen our programs over the years with the goal of increasing their knowledge and skills. We feel both privileged and responsible in our role as educators of such a significant number of this nation’s teacher workforce,” President Kaplan told the committee.
President Kaplan described how the Riley College of Education and Leadership assesses the quality of its education through its graduates’ success. This includes reviewing learning outcomes of the students of Walden graduates and graduates’ actual work products to confirm that they can apply what they learned at Walden in their classrooms.
As an example, President Kaplan cited Linking Teacher Learning to Student Success, a recent third-party longitudinal study commissioned by Walden and conducted in conjunction with Tacoma (Washington) Public Schools. The research demonstrated that students of Tacoma teachers who graduated from Walden’s MS in Education program with a specialization in Elementary Reading and Literacy made more than 14 percent greater gains in reading fluency than students of non-Walden-master’s educated teachers, with the first grade improvements the most significant. The study also showed the positive impact that Walden graduates had on student reading fluency and how that translated into more efficient use of instructional time.
President Kaplan said Walden believes its programs must have strong theoretical and content grounding and be highly relevant, practical and engaging.
“As the U.S. Department of Education recently learned through a study of its own, online learning is just as effective as a method of education, if not more so, than on-ground learning. This is significant partly because of the required frequent interaction between the faculty and their students. From our own experience at Walden, we know that interactivity and engagement online is a particularly effective teaching tool in the field of education,” he said.
This hearing is one of several under way examining the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Following his testimony, President Kaplan answered questions from committee members on topics from improving teacher preparation and retention to the student experience in the online classroom.