ERIC Identifier: ED437367
Publication Date: 1999-12-00
Author: Oakes, T. J.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
A Guide to Organizations Involved with Licensing and
Certification of Teachers and Accreditation of Teacher Education Programs. ERIC
Accreditation of teacher education programs and the licensing and
certification of teachers are three interrelated but very distinct processes. It
is easy to confuse the functions that come under these three areas, particularly
when some states use the terms accreditation, licensing, and certification
interchangeably. They are key points along a continuum of teacher preparation.
The ultimate goal of the processes is to ensure quality teaching. This digest
seeks to clarify these three important processes and identify the primary
national organizations involved in these areas.
DEFINING THE PROCESSES
Accreditation is an evaluation
process that determines the quality of an institution or program using
predetermined standards. Accreditation is normally carried out on a peer review
basis by competent, nongovernmental agencies such as national, regional, and/or
local associations. It is, in essence, a collegial activity conducted by
institutions that have voluntarily organized to form and to support an
accrediting association. These accrediting agencies or associations prepare
standards for education institutions and subsequently apply these standards when
evaluating individual institutions seeking accreditation.
Licensing is the process by which a governmental agency grants a license - or
permission - to an individual who has met specified requirements. These
requirements are usually minimal. Their purpose is to assure the public that the
licensed individual will do no harm. In the case of licensing teachers, the
intent is to prevent individuals from doing harm in the classroom.
Certification is the process by which a nongovernmental agency or association
bestows professional recognition to an individual who has met certain
predetermined qualifications specified by that agency or association. It can be
described as peer approbation, similar to Board certification among medical
ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN THE PROCESSES
Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
Massachusetts, Ave., NW., Suite 500
(202) 466-7496; Fax: (202) 296-6620
Founded in 1954, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
(NCATE) is a voluntary accrediting body, recognized by the U.S. Department of
Education, that evaluates and accredits institutions for the preparation of
elementary and secondary school teachers, school service personnel, and
administrators. NCATE standards focus on the overall quality of the professional
education unit. The unit may be the institution or college, school, department,
or other administrative body within the institution that is primarily
responsible for the initial and continuing preparation of teachers and other
professional personnel (NCATE Standards Book, 1997). Standards are currently
organized within four categories: (1) design of professional education -
curriculum, delivery, and community; (2) candidates in professional education;
(3) professional education faculty; and (4) the unit for professional education.
Themes throughout the standards include the conceptual framework, diversity,
intellectual vitality, technology, professional community, evaluation, and
performance assessment. Performance-based standards are the key feature for
NCATE 2000, which will emphasize candidate performance (Wise, 1998).
NCATE membership includes public and student representatives and
representatives from teacher education institutions, teachers, policy makers,
administrators, and specialists as well as subject-specific, child-centered, and
technology organizations. Over 30 organizations - including the National Board
for Professional Teaching Standards - comprise NCATE, and 46 states plus the
District of Columbia participate in partnerships with NCATE.
NCATE sponsors several projects, including the Historically Black Colleges
and Universities Technical Support Network, Professional Development School
Standards Project, NCATE/NBPTS Partnership for Graduate Programs, and Technology
Education Accreditation Council (TEAC)
Dupont Circle, Suite 320, Washington DC 20036-0110
(202) 466-7230; Fax: (202) 466-7238
The Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) was developed in 1998 in
response to a concern of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) that NCATE is
the only national teacher education accreditation association, and it accredits
less than half of the 1,260 institutions of higher education that offer teacher
education programs (Basinger, 1998). TEAC was formally incorporated in 1997 and
has petitioned the U.S. Department of Education for recognition.
The TEAC mission is to promote professional education programs in colleges
and universities by recognizing those of the highest quality. It plans to
develop an alternative accreditation process that relies on a continuing
institutional self-examination reinforced by external audits. Four principles of
quality are identified by TEAC: (1) student learning; (2) assessment of student
learning; (3) institutional learning; and (4) institutional commitment. TEAC
will audit the institutions' internal processes for assessing student learning
and assist institutions in the continuous improvement of their teacher education
programs. The institution will choose which standards it will use, and the
academic audit will serve as an evaluation tool.
The governance of TEAC differs from that of NCATE. Rather than having
professional associations appoint individuals to the governing board,
individuals are elected by the member institutions. There are 51 candidate
member institutions and 18 affiliate members (www.teac.org/members.html, 1999).
About half of the members of the Board of Directors are either college
presidents or deans or directors of teacher education programs. The other half
are teachers, public officials who oversee education, representatives of
national associations, and members of the general public.
Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
Evergreen Road, Suite 400, Southfield MI 48076
(248) 351-4444; Fax: (248) 351-4170
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) was created in
1987. Its membership includes teachers and state and local officials in the
field of elementary and secondary education, and leaders from the business
community and higher education. It seeks to strengthen the profession of
teaching and thereby raise the quality of education. Its mission is to establish
high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be
able to do; to develop and operate a national, voluntary system to assess and
certify teachers who meet these standards; and to advance related education
reforms for the purpose of improving student learning in American schools.
NBPTS hopes that advanced certification will act as a catalyst to transform
teaching as a career by enabling states and schools to recognize outstanding
teaching professionals, offer them better compensation, provide them with
increased responsibilities, and place important decisions about teaching policy
and practices in their hands. NBPTS is also concerned with education policy and
reform issues such as teacher preparation recruitment (particularly among
minorities) and the role NBPTS-certified teachers will play in schools. The
standards grow out of a central policy statement: What Teachers Should Know and
Be Able to Do. The NBPTS' five core propositions, outlined in the statement,
are: (1) teachers are committed to students and their learning; (2) teachers
know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students; (3)
teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning; (4)
teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience;
and (5) teachers are members of learning communities (NBPTS, 1994). Key
components of this certification process are that candidates complete portfolios
and participate in on-demand tasks at assessment centers.
New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC)
Massachusetts Ave. NW, #700, Washington DC 20001-1431
(202) 336-7048; Fax: (202) 408-8072
The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) was
established in 1987 by the Council of Chief State School Officers to enhance
collaboration among states interested in rethinking teacher licensing and
assessment for education professionals. In 1993, the consortium proposed model
standards that described what beginning teachers should know and be able to do.
These standards were drafted by representatives of the teaching profession and
personnel from 17 education agencies. (www.ccsso.org, 1999). Currently 33 states
are members of INTASC. The standards, applicable for beginning teachers of all
disciplines and all levels, are compatible with the national teacher
certification standards proposed by the National Board for Professional Teaching
Standards and are organized around 10 principles. An important attribute of the
standards is that they are performance-based; according to the consortium, more
emphasis is placed upon the abilities teachers develop rather than the hours
they spend completing course work. These performance-based standards should
enable states to have greater innovation and diversity in how teacher education
programs operate by assessing outcomes rather than inputs or procedures.
Besides these model standards, which address the knowledge, dispositions, and
performance of all teachers, INTASC is also developing subject-area standards
for new teachers. These standards currently include English/language arts,
mathematics, and science, with elementary, art, social studies, and special
education in the development stage. The assessments that can be used to evaluate
a new teacher's performance against these standards are being developed through
the Performance Assessment Development Project, a program designed for the
licensing of beginning teachers and includes the use of portfolios to determine
licensing of candidates. INTASC is also developing a cadre of teachers, teacher
educators, and state education staff who can implement the assessments in their
In addition, INTASC has contracted with Educational Testing Services (ETS) to
develop the Test for Teaching Knowledge (TTK), which is based on the model
standards. The TTK is a constructed- response test based on authentic situations
facing beginning teachers. Pilot sessions were conducted in the spring of 1999.
A field test will be conducted in 2000 (www.ccsso.org, 1999).
School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC)
of Chief State School Officers
Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 700, Washington DC 20001-1431
(202) 408-5505; Fax: (202) 408-8072
Established in 1995, the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium
(ISLLC) was organized by the Council of Chief State School Officers and operates
in partnership with the National Board for Educational Administration. Similar
to INTASC, it is a consortium of states and associations formed to develop model
standards and assessments for school leaders. Membership includes
representatives of state agencies/departments of education, professional
standards boards, and major educational leadership associations.
The processes of accreditation, licensing, and
certification are intended to complement each other, with a goal of assuring a
system of quality in the practice of teaching. In general, accreditation
provides quality control and consumer protection at the institutional level in
preservice preparation; licensing provides quality control and consumer
protection with individual candidates; and certification provides recognition
for accomplished practitioners through continuing professional development. Like
many areas of education, the system is still evolving.
Basinger, J. Fight Intensifies Over
Accreditation of Teacher Education Programs, The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Council of Independent Colleges, Foundation for an Innovative
Accreditation System (1998).
The Council of Chief State School Officers, Interstate New Teacher Assessment
and Support Consortium, Model Standards for Beginning Teacher Licensing and
Development: A Resource for State Dialogue (1992).
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, What Teachers Should
Know and Be Able To Do (1994).
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, Standards
Procedures and Policies for the Accreditation of Professional Education Units
Wise, A. Quality Teaching (Spring 1998), The National Council for
Accreditation of Teacher Education.
The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium,
The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium, www.ccsso.org/isllc.html
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, www.npbts.org.
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, www.ncate.org.
The Teacher Education Accreditation Council, www.teac.org.