SUU's Teacher Education Officially Dons National Elite RankingNovember 03, 2003
Author: Renee Ballenger
Southern Utah University has been granted accreditation by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the authoritative teacher education accrediting agency in the United States.
After more than three years of sometimes grueling self-study and assessment to meet NCATE standards and evaluation, the professional Teacher Education unit of the College of Education at SUU is now, officially, one of the prestigious programs of its kind.
In an email to Dean Bruce Barker, NCATE Senior Vice President Donna Gollnick in Washington, D.C., wrote that NCATE’s Unit Accreditation Board met the week of October 20 to determine the accreditation status of 62 institutions, and that they were pleased to report that accreditation has been granted for the professional education unit at Southern Utah University. The formal letter and action report is forthcoming in the mail.
The underlying structure of NCATE sets forth a vision of a teaching unit and provides a theoretical and empirical foundation for the direction of programs; courses; teaching; candidate performance; faculty scholarship and service; and unit accountability. The process is comprised of five elements, including: vision, theme and mission; philosophy; professional commitment and dispositions; performance expectations; and, a system by which candidate performance is assessed.
Dr. Prent Klag, associate professor of teacher education, and director of the Office of Graduate Studies and Field Services, says the accreditation process has been a positive and productive exercise for the department. "NCATE has inspired us to identify our strengths and areas that need improvement. It is clarifying how to hire the best faculty, how to compose and stay with a formal strategic, long-term plan for our entire program."
He adds, "With accreditation, the bars have been raised on standards, and I believe this will be appreciated by students, especially in terms of their future."
Accreditation is important for many reasons, including what it means to the public. In an opinion poll conducted by Pen and Schoen, 82 percent of respondents favored requiring teachers to graduate from nationally-accredited professional schools. NCATE accreditation responds to the public's expectation of colleges of education to produce teachers and other school specialists who meet rigorous standards, and who can help students learn.
"We have achieved the zenith in this field and are competitive with any teacher education program in the country,” Dean O’Driscoll, SUU’s marketing and public relations director, says. “The best resources and opportunities for both faculty and students are here."
That being the case, one might ask, "Where can we go from here if we have reached the ceiling in the industry?"
O’Driscoll responds, “The answer is clear; there are no boundaries...now, we go everywhere.”
Klag adds, "It is our mission to develop dynamic teachers who constantly search for truth, excellence and knowledge through effective practice, collaboration and scholarship. And at the same time, we must, and do change and adapt to the industry's needs, and expand the options to make our graduates marketable for jobs."
Finally, SUU President Steve Bennion concludes, "Our Teacher Education program distinguishes SUU. Teaching is our foremost legacy. Moreover, meaningful focused ways of teaching--what we can do to make our students the best practitioners--are what make our graduates especially skilled forces in the educational industry."