Newman University and Cognia, a leader in accreditation, assessment and continuous improvement, have launched a partnership that will allow students seeking a master’s degree in the Newman education program to receive credits at no cost when volunteering on Cognia engagement review teams.
Dean of the School of Education and Social Work Cameron Carlson, Ph.D., has been involved with Cognia as a volunteer and accreditation reviewer for many years. He said with this new partnership, Newman University is now a member of Cognia with access to its resources, tools, training and support.
Cognia, which has been known by many names throughout its history, has been serving educational institutions and students since 1895. The organization focuses on K-12 schools, helping them improve by providing services from accreditation review teams, early learning, diagnostic, STEM monitoring and more.
Carlson said Cognia also makes a point of looking at student data, spending time to create, implement and review surveys to develop a top-notch school-improvement program, which helps improve learning experiences for the K-12 students.
Beyond the expertise such an organization provides the Newman education program and its students, the partnership allows students to receive free credits toward their degrees by volunteering on Cognia teams.
Mark A. Elgart, president and CEO of Cognia, said, “Whether novice or veteran, building leader or superintendent, educators have always told us how much they value the experience of serving on a Cognia Engagement Review team. Now volunteers who … observe classrooms and make improvement recommendations can also earn graduate credit and further their personal continuous improvement efforts.”
Carlson said combining this type of student experience to the current leadership track’s curriculum just makes sense.
He added that Cognia is something all districts are required to do and Newman is dedicated to helping their graduates step into leadership roles while also providing them the training and skills they need to improve schools they will eventually work in.
“They get guided instruction from the professors (at Newman) and Cognia all while earning credit toward their master’s degree,” said Carlson. “If they are visiting another school, they also get workshop credits.
“Feeling the rigor of being in someone else’s district, they get that experience and that feeds back into the program here at Newman and improves the experience as a whole.”
All of these benefits could start as early as spring 2021 if capacity is met, although it was originally designed to and will likely start in June 2021.
The first course in conjunction with the Cognia partnership has already been designed and subsequent courses are in the works.
Because of Cognia’s size, they utilize approximately 500 volunteers per semester, which results in a tremendous amount of opportunities for Newman students. And with teacher leadership roles becoming more important, innovative methods of preparing graduates also becomes a top priority.
“The biggest thing is the support we have in working in collaboration with Cognia,” said Carlson. “They’re a service provider, we are an education profession provider and they have a relationship with the schools. It’s a three-legged stool and it provides a very stable foundation for our graduates.”