by Geoff Larcom, Published April 21, 2011
YPSILANTI - Studies show that teacher quality is the most important factor in 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. The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) today announced its decision to re-accredit the professional education programs at Eastern Michigan University.
EMU has been continuously accredited by NCATE, which is the standard of excellence in teacher preparation, since the council's inception in 1954. The current accreditation is valid through 2017.
"EMU has a storied history in the preparation of educators, dating back to its beginning as a Normal School in 1849," said Shawn Quilter, interim dean of the College of Education. "Today's announcement reaffirms the quality of our students, faculty, and programs at EMU. It also demonstrates our ongoing commitment to excellent programs and continuous improvement in educator preparation."
The re-accreditation is based on a fall 2010 site visit, and a rigorous review of data supporting program quality and continuous improvement. It represents the culmination of seven years of significant efforts and achievements of the educator preparation programs of EMU, Quilter said.
NCATE accreditation includes all programs, both undergraduate and graduate, that prepare teachers, counselors, and administrators for professional roles in K-12 school settings.
The council requires institutions to provide evidence that prospective educators possess the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions to positively affect the learning and development of diverse students. Teachers, for example, must know and understand the subject matter they plan to teach and be able to teach effectively so that all students learn.
The accreditation process also requires the institution to have an assessment system in place in order to ensure continuous improvement, as well as evidence of appropriate field experiences, diversity, quality faculty and resources.
EMU's educator preparation programs currently enroll 3700 students in four colleges, 19 departments, and dozens of programs. There are over 200 faculty members, lecturers, and clinical supervisors involved in the preparation of educators at EMU. Each academic year, approximately 800 student teachers do their field experiences in local schools.
Since initiating a rating system for teacher preparation institutions in 2008, the Michigan Department of Education has rated the teacher preparation program at EMU as "exemplary" each year. EMU is one of only 11 institutions in Michigan with national accreditation in educator preparation, one of only two institutions in the state to have continuously held NCATE accreditation since 1954. It is also the only institution in the Midwest region with specialized accreditation in 24 distinctive programs.
"The accreditation process was a collaborative effort, coordinated by the College of Education," Quilter said. "Faculty and staff from many departments across campus worked together to demonstrate how educator preparation programs at EMU are meeting - or exceeding - professional standards."
Quilter said that partnerships are an important part of such success. He cited collaborations with K-12 school partners, the Michigan Department of Education, faculty, students, staff, and alumni.
"The Office of the Provost provided support and resources to make this accreditation process a great success," Quilter said.
NCATE currently accredits 623 institutions, which produce two-thirds of the nation's new teacher graduates each year.
The U. S. Department of Education recognizes NCATE as a specialized accrediting body for schools, colleges, and departments of education. NCATE includes more than 30 professional and policymaker organizations representing millions of Americans committed to quality teaching.