Dr. Keith Dils, Dean of Slippery Rock University’s College of Education, has received the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators’ Service Award (PAC-TE).
“I was proud and honored to receive the award,” Dils said. “It was certainly nice to be recognized by such a large organization from people I greatly respect.”
PAC-TE is a professional nonprofit association for those in Pennsylvania who are engaged in the preparation and development of professional educators. More than 80 individuals and 75 Pennsylvania institutions of higher education join the organization annually. Pennsylvania has 93 universities that offer teacher education programs approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). As well as an inscribed plaque, the recipient names a benefactor institution or organization to receive funds in their name.
Dils received the award for his leadership role in PAC-TE, for he has served on the board of directors for three years. As a member of the group, Dils tries to help shape and contribute to the PDE by working with them to make sure the state laws are fair, accurate, and good, he said.
“We are facing a lot of challenges with the new state mandated exam called the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) test,” Dils said. “Statewide, students are failing this test at 65 percent.”
Dils said the challenge is to work through PAC-TE to make sure the exam is fair, correlates with quality teaching, and that students who perform in the classroom have demonstrated they can be good teachers. The test is relatively new, so the organization is trying to get statistics from the test maker to find out if the cut-off scores are reasonable and if the test questions are fair. PAC-TE is the unified voice of professional educator preparation in Pennsylvania.
“One of my students took the test 12 times, costing them close to $600,” Dils said. “Some students pass it on the fifth time, so we are faced with the question of is it reasonable? Performing well on these tests does not correlate to bringing life to subjects in the classroom.”
Dils donated the monetary portion of the service award to SRU’s Storm Harbor Equestrian Center. He said it was an easy choice to send the equestrian center the money because they do such great work and multiple fundraisers every year.
“Our special education program uses the equestrian center,” Dils said. “I see the outstanding work they do on a daily basis.”