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College of Education

Partnerships & Outreach

Clinical Experiences

Real-world experiences are a huge part of preparing for a career in education. Because of this, the College of Education is committed to providing a range of diverse field placements appropriate for your chosen discipline. Whether you’ve picked a career in teaching, school leadership, student affairs, or counseling, you will gain valuable experience working alongside your peers in the field. 

About the Office of Clinical Experiences
Partnership Sites & Professional Development Schools
Partnership Sites
Professional Development Schools


About the Office of Clinical Experiences
The Office of Clinical Experiences (OCE) coordinates placements for candidates in our teacher preparation programs. OCE maintains positive collaborative relationships between USC's educator preparation programs and over one hundred forty P-12 schools in Columbia and surrounding communities. Click Here.

We place practicum and internship candidates in Partnership Sites interested in mentoring future educators and also organize professional development and research projects in several Professional Development Schools. In addition, OCE serves as the link between the university and local Teacher Cadet programs designed to introduce high school students to the teaching profession.
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Partnership Sites & Professional Development Schools
The University of South Carolina recognizes the vital role that teacher candidate placement in school settings plays in improving the quality of teachers and other educational educators entering the profession. The university therefore appreciates the commitment made by local school districts in encouraging P-12 faculty to mentor USC teacher candidates as they progress throughout their programs.

All of our partner schools that work with teacher candidates fall into one of two models: Partnership Sites and Professional Development Schools.  Each model has its own levels of input from both the schools and the university, but both models rely on a shared commitment to improved teaching and learning. Partnership Sites and Professional Development Schools are identified through discussions between university and school district personnel, with the following criteria serving as the basis for selection:

  • The school should have an instructional staff that is interested in working with teacher candidates and which understands the requirements of doing so.
  • The school should have well‑qualified faculty who employ effective teaching techniques.
  • The school should be sensitive to multicultural concerns in its curriculum and programs.
  • The school should be innovative and progressive in its policies and practices, with faculty willing to allow USC candidates to try a variety of teaching practices.
  • The school should have adequate physical facilities and up‑to‑date instructional equipment and materials.
  • The school should have a curriculum that includes optimum educational experiences for both pupils and teacher candidates.
  • The school should have a well‑organized in-service program to stimulate professional growth of the instructional staff.

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Partnership Sites
Partnership Sites are P-12 schools interested in providing clinical placements for teacher candidates. Partnership Sites provide opportunities for teacher candidates to work with P-12 students to develop their teaching skills and meet university course requirements, as appropriate for each candidate’s level in the program. University-based faculty also visit Partnership Sites regularly to supervise advanced practicum students and teaching interns.  While different schools’ academic requirements and practices may vary, teachers working with candidates in Partnership Sites support teacher candidates in trying out “new ideas” consistent with their education course work.

Benefits for participation as a Partnership Site include:

  • staff development through teacher involvement with teacher candidates, including serving as models for the teacher candidates in their classrooms, developing observation and supervisory skills, and access to information regarding current research and practice through teaching candidates and their supervisors;
  • enhanced student-staff ratios resulting from the involvement of the teacher candidates;
  • first-hand observation of potential candidates for openings at the school;
  • enhanced access to the university for staff development needs; and course tuition reductions for teachers who coach full-time interns at each site.

For clinical experiences to run smoothly and to the greatest advantage of children, teachers, schools, and teacher candidates, each Partnership Site that hosts teacher candidates requires a school-based faculty member or administrator who has specific responsibilities in supporting USC candidates working on-site.  Partnership Sites vary from semester to semester but in general include over 100 schools from six Columbia area districts:


Lexington County School District 1 Lexington/Richland County School District 5
Lexington County School District 2 Richland County School District 1
Lexington County School District 4 Richland County School District 2

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Professional Development Schools
Like Partnership Sites, Professional Development Schools (PDSs) also provide quality placements for teacher candidates. However, PDSs move beyond this one element of collaboration by agreeing to a three-year commitment to the following:

  • a demonstrated emphasis on inquiry-based teaching and learning;
  • the presence of a critical mass of faculty working with USC teacher candidates throughout their programs;
  • a faculty-wide examination of the National Network for Educational Renewal’s Agenda for Education in a Democracy;
  • conducting of at least one research or demonstration project in collaboration with USC faculty over the course of the three-year relationship;
  • the hosting, whenever possible, of pre-service courses on-site;
  • active participation in the governance of the PDS Initiative within USC’s School-University Partnership Network;
  • the provision of a dedicated physical space within the school for use by a USC Liaison and district remuneration of 50% of the USC Liaison’s annual salary;
  • the assignment of a P-12 faculty member or administrator as the site’s Clinical Adjunct responsible for collaborating with the USC Liaison in guiding PDS initiatives, and district remuneration of 50% of the Clinical Adjunct’s annual stipend.

Benefits for participation as a PDS include:

  • the assistance of a USC Liaison who will work with the school no less than fifteen hours a week supervising USC teacher candidates and serve as a support person for the school’s professional development activities;
  • free leadership training related to the National Network for Educational Renewal’s (NNER) Agenda for Education in a Democracy of for faculty and administrators;
  • free training for faculty on mentoring beginning teachers;
  • at least one free, on-site professional development course, or similar professional development experience, per three-year cycle, with the topic to be identified by school faculty and staff;
  • involvement of a USC faculty member in at least one significant research or demonstration project over the course of the 3-year period;
  • priority consideration for participation in practicum and internship experiences;
  • priority consideration in hosting on-site courses for teacher candidates that provide enrichment experiences for children and professional development opportunities for teachers;
  • priority consideration for grant-funded initiatives and teaching assignments at USC;
  • financial support for faculty and staff to attend the PDS National Conference;
  • opportunities to serve on USC committees to represent the P-12 perspective and share in decision-making regarding education programs and faculty searches; and
  • the option to “bank” tuition reductions from coaching teachers for use by teachers working with USC teacher candidates in other roles.

As of the 2015-16 academic year, the USC PDS initiative consists of the following 16 schools:

Elementary Schools

Bridge Creek
Horrell Hill
Lake Carolina
North Springs
Oak Pointe
Rice Creek

Middle Schools


High Schools

Dutch Fork
Lower Richland

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