WILSON, N.C. — Studies show that teacher quality is the most important factor in P–12 student achievement. But how do we know that our children’s teachers enter the classroom ready to help them learn? Professional accreditation is one way to ensure the public that schools of education are graduating well-qualified teachers ready for today’s classrooms. Barton College’s School of Education has proven its commitment to producing quality teachers for our nation’s children by achieving reaffirmation of its long-standing accreditation under the performance-oriented standards of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the organization responsible for professional accreditation of teacher education.
Earlier this summer, the Unit Accreditation Board of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) confirmed by letter its reaffirmation of accreditation of Barton College’s Teacher Education Program at the initial teacher preparation and advanced preparation levels. This reaffirmation indicates Barton College and its programs meet rigorous standards set forth by the professional education community. NCATE’s next visit to Barton College is scheduled for fall 2018.
“Barton is extremely pleased to receive this good news,” said Dr. Norval C. Kneten, president of the College. “It is gratifying to be recognized for the strength and rigor of our education program. And, we are incredibly proud of our education graduates who are well prepared to meet the challenges in their own classrooms as they inspire the futures of the next generation.”
NCATE currently accredits 623 institutions, which produce two-thirds of the nation’s new teacher graduates each year. These NCATE-accredited schools must meet rigorous standards set by the profession and members of the public. Teacher candidates must have in-depth knowledge of the subject matter that they plan to teach as well as the skills necessary to convey it so that students learn. The college or university must carefully assess this knowledge and skill to determine that candidates may graduate. The institution must have partnerships with P-12 schools that enable candidates to develop the skills necessary to help students learn. Candidates must be prepared to understand and work with diverse student populations. College and university faculty must model effective teaching practices. And the school, college, or department of education must have the resources, including information technology resources, necessary to prepare candidates to meet new standards.
Barton’s Teacher Education Program had the opportunity to pilot a new accreditation procedure, the Continuous Improvement Option, which allowed the institution to demonstrate continuing proficiency in the six standards outlined by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and to showcase the program’s use of self-evaluation and corresponding data to improve the program through a continuous improvement cycle. Barton was among the first schools to pilot this new procedure, which has since become a model for accreditation review.
NCATE revises its standards every five years to incorporate best practice and research in order to ensure that the standards reflect a consensus about what is important in teacher preparation today. In the past decade, NCATE has moved from an accreditation system that focused on curriculum and what teacher candidates were offered, to a data driven performance-based system dedicated to determining what candidates know and are able to do. The new system expects teacher preparation institutions to provide compelling evidence of candidate knowledge and skill in the classroom. Multiple types of performance assessment are expected throughout the program of study. Candidate qualifications are assessed upon entry, and candidate competence is assessed throughout the program as well as prior to student teaching/internship work, and before completion of the program.
Meeting NCATE accreditation standards also helps institutions prepare new teachers for new, more rigorous licensing standards in many states. NCATE accreditation standards incorporate the model state licensing principles developed by a task force of the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Dr. Jackie Ennis, dean of the Barton College School of Education, shared her excitement about Barton being chosen to pilot the new Continuous Improvement Option, which she views as an effective approach to the accreditation process. “This option allowed the Teacher Education Program to showcase current work and to show how the faculty used data to evaluate and improve the program,” Dr. Ennis explained. “The review process was very thorough and utilized the work of two teams of reviewers to analyze and verify data. The on-site team was pleased to find that the data presented by Barton College faculty, staff, and students and verified by public school personnel represented high quality work.”
Dr. Ennis also noted that the NCATE on-site team members commented on the strong, productive relationships between the public school system and the Barton College Teacher Education Program. “They were pleased with Barton’s ongoing relationship with the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf (ENCSD) and with the developing partnership with Margaret Hearne Elementary School, Dr. Ennis added. “The final report from the review team noted the overall success of the program and the professionalism demonstrated by the faculty in the Teacher Education Program through their teamwork and their collaboration with other members of the Barton community and with public school partners to ensure excellent teacher preparation at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels.”
The U. S. Department of Education recognizes NCATE as a specialized accrediting body for schools, colleges, and departments of education. NCATE is composed of more than 30 professional and policymaker organizations representing millions of Americans committed to quality teaching. It was founded in 1954 by the teaching profession and the states. NCATE continues its mission today: the profession and the states working together for excellence in teacher preparation and development.
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