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Education programs ranked among best

By Sandy Broughton

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 25 - March 27, 1997

Virginia Tech's graduate education programs are ranked among the best in the nation in U.S. News and World Report's 1997 book of America's Best Graduate Schools. Virginia Tech is ranked 50th on the list of top graduate schools in education in the country.

Additionally, in the category of Education Specialties, Virginia Tech's Vocational Technical Education program was ranked fourth in the nation by education deans and the senior faculty. This is a repeat appearance on the list by Vocational Technical Education, which ranked third in 1995 and fourth in 1996.

"Our graduate programs in education have long been held in very high regard, both within the academic community and in the education profession," said Janet M. Johnson, dean of the College of Human Resources and Education at Virginia Tech. "Our faculty is actively involved in national organizations, our graduates are in leadership positions in public education, and our external connections have given us the opportunity to do cutting-edge research. This recognition is richly deserved."

More than 1,400 masters and doctoral students makes the College of Human Resources and Education second in graduate enrollment among Tech's colleges, just behind the College of Engineering. Among the distinctions of the graduate programs in Human Resources and Education:

* The Vocational and Technical Education program is one of only 22 comprehensive programs nation-wide, and the only doctoral VTE program in Virginia.

* The doctoral program in Administration and Supervision of Special Education is the only doctoral program of its kind in Virginia; one of only six nation-wide.

* The College of Human Resources and Education is the top producer of public-school superintendents and elementary-school counselors in Virginia.

* The Marriage and Family Therapy program and the Hospitality and Tourism Management graduate programs have both been ranked number one by their respective professions.

* The Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise graduate program was one of the top producers of theses and dissertations last year.

In addition to campus-based programs, education faculty members at Virginia Tech have pioneered innovative graduate programs for education professionals at a variety of geographic locations throughout Virginia. Designed to address the particular needs of school districts, graduate programs are collaboratively planned by the College of Human Resources and Education, the school districts, and Tech's Graduate School. Examples of innovative graduate programs include:

* the School Leaders Program, which involves 36 students from 12 Southwest Virginia school districts, pursuing doctoral degrees in leadership development;

* the Principal Preparation Program, offered in Roanoke, Abingdon, and Northern Virginia, which has served 73 students from 24 school districts;

* the Buchanan County Reading Program, a three-year effort that prepared 43 reading specialists for classrooms throughout the county;

the Rockbridge County Curriculum Program, a three-year effort serving 22 students, that focuses on redesign of curriculum with special emphasis on technology

* the Wise County Literacy Program, a two-year effort that prepared 23 reading specialists to strengthen classroom reading instruction;

the Wythe County Reading Program, a master's-degree program on reading instruction for 20 educators, which resulted in improved test scores for elementary students.

Though short, Tech's VTE program has a distinguished history. The graduate program awarded its first doctorate in 1973, making it a very young program compared to the others in the U.S. News rankings. Approximately 130 students are currently enrolled in VTE master's and doctoral courses. In addition to the U.S. News rankings, a 1991 study from the University of Illinois ranked Tech's program second in the nation in productivity and third in the nation in prestige. In a 1993 Utah State study, Virginia Tech was rated by leaders in the field as the top graduate program in Technology Education in the United States.

U.S. News ranks the nation's 191 graduate education programs that grant Ph.D. or Ed.D. degrees using five attributes: faculty resources, research activity, student selectivity, and two separate measures of reputation. The rankings appeared in the March 10 issue of U.S. News and World Report and in the 178-page guidebook.