Concord’s Teacher Education Program Meets Profession’s Standards
Athens, W.Va. - Studies show that teacher quality is the most important factor in Primary-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. Concord’s Unit for Teacher Education has proven its commitment to producing quality teachers for our nation’s children by achieving accreditation this month under the performance-oriented standards of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the organization responsible for professional accreditation of teacher education.
Concord College is one of 60 schools of education that received continuing accreditation from NCATE’s Unit Accreditation Board in its most recent round of decisions. NCATE accredits 525 institutions. The 525 accredited institutions produce two-thirds of the nation’s new teacher graduates each year. Another 100 institutions are candidates or pre-candidates for accreditation.
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 student’s knowledge and skills to determine that candidates may graduate. The institution must have partnerships with Primary-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.
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 and before completion of the program.
Meeting NCATE accreditation standards also helps institutions prepare new teachers for 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 Officers.
“Concord College has traditionally been a leader in teacher preparation in Southern West Virginia,” stated David L. Stewart, state superintendent of schools for West Virginia. “I have been especially impressed to learn of Concord’s educational renaissance, especially in the areas of educational technology and providing library media certification that is meeting the retraining needs for certified library media teachers.”
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes NCATE as the professional accrediting body for schools, departments, and colleges of education. On-site visits, document review, and accreditation decisions are all carried out by professionals from the education community, including teachers, school specialists, and teacher educators, as well as members of the public and education policymakers.
Graduates from Concord’s teacher education program qualify for initial licensure in West Virginia and are employed throughout West Virginia and neighboring states. The first degrees in education were awarded at Concord under the normal school program in 1878. Today, there are 645 undergraduates enrolled in early childhood special education, elementary, and secondary education programs.
Concord College Notes: Concord is ranked number one in academic reputation among public colleges in the south by US News & World Report’s America’s Best College’s 2002.