ERIC Identifier: ED273608
Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education
Accreditation. ERIC Digest 7.
Accreditation, the process of evaluating schools, colleges, and education
departments, ensures quality control in the teaching profession. This process is
closely linked with certification, the procedure of evaluating teacher
candidates in subject area, educational methodology, teaching skills, and
potential classroom management ability. A separate ERIC Digest discusses
certification, while an explanation of accreditation purposes and procedures
AGENCIES MONITORING TEACHER EDUCATION
In teacher education,
national and regional accreditation, as well as state program approval verify
that an institution, an education department, or a teacher preparation program
has conformed to specific quality standards set by the approval or accrediting
agency. Government and professional agencies set these standards and monitor
teacher education. Most state departments of education set requirements for
program approval to be met by teacher education institutions so that their
graduates can qualify for state certification. Six regional accreditation
agencies examine institutions for the quality and completeness of all resources
and programs. These are Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest,
Southern, and Western Associations of Schools and Colleges. The National Council
for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) provides the only national
teacher education accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education
and the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA) (Emans 1986). Regional and
national accreditation are voluntary processes whereby the institution or
department submits its programs and resources for review by the accrediting
agency. Prior to consideration for national accreditation, the institution must
have regional accreditation and, if available, state approval of its teacher
TEACHER EDUCATION MONITORING PROCESS
details the California approval and accreditation process, which includes four
procedures that might be applied to any teacher education program. In order to
gain state approval, California institutions offering teacher education programs
must undergo three evaluation procedures.
The institution must first be granted the right to offer degree programs.
Private institutions apply to the Office of Private Postsecondary Education
(OPPE, a division of the state department of education) and state schools apply
to their respective state university systems. New degree approval takes about a
The institutions then undergo an examination by the regional accreditation
agency, which is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in
California. This procedure takes six years and involves an examination of all
degree programs, faculty, institutional resources, management and financial
stability. The process begins with an institution's application for recognition
and submission of a self-evaluation regarding compliance with WASC requirements.
The process ends with the recommendation to accredit fully, conditionally, or
not to accredit based on an on-site report compiled by a visiting evaluation
After approval by WASC, institutions submit teacher education programs to the
Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). This state-mandated approval
procedure monitors legislated standards and regulations in California's 700
teacher education programs. Again, on-site evaluations occur and procedure
completion takes several years.
Finally, the teacher education department can apply to NCATE for national
accreditation. Of approximately 1300 institutions offering teacher education,
more than 550 institutions have NCATE accredited programs. These institutions
produce about eighty percent of the annual new teacher supply (Emans 1986). Most
states require that teachers graduate from state and/or regionally accredited
schools, while some accept NCATE accreditation for state approval.
Recent studies of accreditation agencies and procedures show that approval
and accreditation standards and evaluation methods vastly differ across state
agencies and that national, regional, and state concerns often overlap,
resulting in redundant procedures (Bernhardt 1984). National accreditation has
been proposed to provide consistent nationwide accreditation standards and
procedures. A detailed description of NCATE may further the understanding of
current teacher education accreditation issues.
WHAT IS NCATE?
NCATE accredits any "unit" of an institution
of higher education which prepares students to teach, be it "college," "school,"
or "department." "NCATE redesign" (1985) presents a comprehensive plan to
further the agency's goals of recognizing and encouraging high quality teacher
education programs which graduate competent teachers. NCATE comprises
representatives of professional and public policy organizations directly
involved in the quality of teacher education programs. American Association of
Colleges of Teacher Education and the National Education Association (NEA) each
account for a quarter of the Council. Educational policy members include
National Association of State Boards of Education, Council of Chief State School
Officers, National School Boards Association, American Association of School
Administrators, Association for Education Communications and Technology, and
Council for Exceptional Children. The membership also includes educational
specialty organizations: American Association of Health, Physical Education,
Recreation and Dance; National Association of School Psychologists; Council of
Teachers of Mathematics; American Association for Counseling and Development;
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; Association of Teacher
Educators; International Reading Association; National Association for the
Education of Young Children; National Science Teachers Association; and NEA's
Student Programs division. Members contribute to the accreditation process by
selecting representatives to serve on the NCATE and the Review Panel Boards.
HOW DOES THE ACCREDITATION PROCESS WORK?
process begins when an institution applies for accreditation of its teacher
education units by filing an application and a declaration of accreditation
eligibility with NCATE. The Guidelines and format, supplied by NCATE, include
eleven preconditions which the institution must meet prior to consideration. The
applicant performs a self-evaluation and submits the report to the Board of
Examiners. An on-site review team of five or six Board members interviews the
unit to verify self-evaluation statements. All facilities are reviewed according
to a prescribed three-day procedure, ending with a formal oral report to the
unit under study. The team them submits a written report to the Unit
Accreditation Board. The applicant unit may also file supplementary materials
for consideration by the Board. The Unit Accreditation Board then votes on the
accreditation decision. If an adverse decision for accreditation occurs, the
unit can appeal to the Review Panel. The process often takes nearly two years to
The criteria NCATE uses to evaluate teacher education facilities has been
revised recently (1985) and apply to teacher education programs from five
perspectives: (1) professional education knowledge base, (2) relationship to
educational practice, (3) students, (4) faculty, and (5) governance and
resources. In order to apply identical criteria uniformly to all programs,
regardless of size or content, the evaluation standards are written in general
terminology. The following description provides a brief summary of standards
used in the evaluation for accreditation. 1. In examining the professional
education knowledge base, NCATE requires the unit to demonstrate that course
content is research-based and directly related to educational practice. 2. In
order to meet the standards for the relationship of the teacher education
program to the world of practice, the unit must demonstrate that: course
curricula are integrated with a wide range of field experience; student teaching
includes no less than ten weeks of full-time, direct teaching; the unit
maintains communication with its graduates; and cooperation exists with state,
district, and local school agencies to assist in program and staff development.
3. The standards for students include evidence of affirmative action and
background diversity in the student population, basic skills proficiency in
entering undergraduate students, a 2.5 GPA for bachelor's degree candidates, and
preconditions for graduate student acceptance. 4. Standards for faculty include
degree status recommendations, demonstrated research activity, and limited
instructional load of twelve and nine credit hours for undergraduate and
graduate faculty respectively. 5. Governance requirements provide a check for
formal organization within the unit and teacher preparation programs. Resource
specifications require the unit to provide adequate classroom, laboratory and
library facilities commensurate with the requirements of a quality education
NACTE requirements are sometimes similar to those required by state and
regional accreditation agencies. State agencies are often more quantity-specific
regarding the breakdown of teacher preparation programs, requiring minimum
credit hours to be earned in particular content areas. Individual institutions
determine exact course content and distribution of required credit hours over
the state minimum.
WHAT ARE THE GOALS OF ACCREDITATION AGENCIES?
accreditation agencies operate in conjunction with their accredited institutions
to assure program quality and continuing development. Jung (1986) suggests that
accreditation agencies might also assume the responsibility to stimulate program
improvement within institutions evaluated. The national scope of these functions
has become increasingly important with the rise of public concern for teaching
quality. Although state approval programs attempt to monitor program quality,
the diversity of state, regional, and national agencies and the differences in
criteria and procedure provide confusing information to institutions of higher
education, state education agencies and political education policy makers.
Recent implementation of NCATE's reorganization as well as restructuring of many
state agencies should contribute toward the consistency of accreditation agency
standards and reduction of duplicative monitoring.
Many of the following references--those
identified with an EJ or ED number--have been abstracted and are in the ERIC
data base. The journal articles should be available at most research libraries.
The documents (citations with an ED number) are available on microfiche in ERIC
microfiche collections at over 700 locations. Documents can also be ordered
through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service. Call (800) 277-3742 for price
and order information. For a list of ERIC collections in your area, or for
information on submitting documents to ERIC, contact the ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teacher Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 610, Washington, DC 20036, (202)
Bernhardt, V.L. "Evaluation Processes of Regional and National Education
Accrediting Agencies: Implications for Redesigning an Evaluation Process in
California." Paper presented at annual meeting of the American Educational
Research Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 1984. ED 248 271
Christensen, D. "NCATE: The Continuing Quest for Excellence " Action in
Teacher Education 6,4 (Winter, 1984-85): 17-22.
Council on Postsecondary Accreditation. "COPA: The Balance Wheel for
Accreditation." Annual Directory, July, 1986.
Emans, R. and M. Hadley. "The Challenge of NCATE." Paper presented at the
annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education,
Chicago, Illinois, March, 1986. SP 027 393
Gardner, W.E. and J.R. Palmer. "Certification and Accreditation Background,
Issue, Analysis and Recommendations." National Commission on Excellence in
Education, August, 1982. ED 226 003
Jung, S.M. "The Role of Accreditation in Directly Improving Educational
Quality." Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, 1986. SP 027 306
Kunkel, R.C. "A Redesign of National Accreditation: An Update." Action in
Teacher Education 6,4 (Winter, 1984-85): 13-16.
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. "NCATE Redesign."