115C-296.11. Clinical partnerships and practice in educator preparation programs.

(a) As used in this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) Clinical educator. - An individual employed by an elementary or secondary school, including a classroom teacher, who assesses, supports, and develops a student's knowledge, skills, and professional disposition during the clinical experience.

(2) Internship. - Part of a formal program to provide practical experience and training for beginners in the education profession.

(3) Residency. - A specified period of time in which a person is employed by a local school administrative unit to gain practical experience and training in educator preparation.

(b) The State Board of Education, in consultation with the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, Inc., shall adopt and establish rules for educator preparation that require at least the following:

(1) Educator preparation programs shall establish and maintain collaborative, formalized partnerships with elementary and secondary schools that are focused on student achievement, continuous school improvement, and the professional development of elementary and secondary educators, as well as those preparing educators.

(2) Educator preparation programs shall work collaboratively with elementary and secondary schools and enter into a memorandum of understanding with local school administrative units where students are placed. In the memorandum, the educator preparation program and the local school administrative unit shall:

a. Define the collaborative relationship between the educator preparation program and the local school administrative unit and how this partnership will be focused on continuous school improvement and student achievement.

b. Adopt a plan for collaborative teacher selection, orientation, and student placement.

c. Determine how information will be shared and verified between the educator preparation program and local school administrative unit.

(3) Educator preparation programs shall ensure clinical educators who supervise students in residencies or internships meet the following requirements:

a. Be professionally licensed in the field of licensure sought by the student.

b. Have a minimum of three years of experience in a teaching role.

c. Have been rated, through formal evaluations, at least at the "accomplished" level as part of the North Carolina Teacher Evaluation System and have met expectations as part of student growth in the field of licensure sought by the student.

(4) Educator preparation programs shall require, in all programs leading to initial licensure, field experiences in every semester that include organized and sequenced engagement of students in settings that provide them with opportunities to observe, practice, and demonstrate knowledge and skills. The experiences shall be systematically designed and sequenced to increase the complexity and levels of engagement with which students apply, reflect upon, and expand their knowledge and skills and to increase in each semester prior to the student's residency or internship the number of hours spent in field experiences. All programs shall include a field experience in a low-performing school for at least one semester.

(5) Educator preparation programs shall require clinical practice in the form of residencies or internships in those fields for which they are approved by the State Board of Education. Residencies or internships shall be a minimum of 16 weeks. Residencies and internships may be over the course of two semesters and shall, to the extent practicable, provide student experiences at both the beginning and ending of the school year.

(6) Educator preparation programs with a clinical practice component shall require, in addition to a content assessment, a nationally normed and valid pedagogy assessment to determine clinical practice performance. Passing scores and mastery criteria will be determined by the State Board of Education. (2015-241, s. 8.41(a); 2016-94, s. 8.32(g).)