March 24, 2004
UW-River Falls Education College Accreditted
The UW-River Falls College of Education & Professional Studies recently received notice that its nationally recognized teacher education program has been reaccreditted.
Unconditional reaccreditation was granted to the College by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education for both its initial teacher preparation and its advanced preparation programs.
In announcing the decision, NCATE President Arthur Wise noted, "Let me congratulate you and your professional education unit for displaying the high quality necessary to be granted national accreditation and to express appreciation for the cooperation received from the faculty, staff and administration."
Chancellor Ann Lydecker welcomed the announcement and said the reaccreditation is a reaffirmation of the roots of the University, which was founded in 1874 to train teachers.
"This reinforces the importance of holding ourselves up to national standards that are very respected, that are difficult to achieve, and which shows that we are recognized by our peers in the profession for the quality of our education program."
NCATE measures six standards of professional excellence: the knowledge, skill and disposition of education students; the breadth of how the College assesses student teacher progress; student field experiences and clinical practice in partnership with local school districts; commitment to helping teaching candidates appreciate diversity so all of their future students will learn; faculty qualifications, performance and development; and the College's governance structure and resources.
Those standards were applied to the full range of COEPS students: future teachers, principals, school psychologists, and speech and language therapists. Also reviewed was the College's rigor at ensuring students were prepared for their initial certification as teachers, the breadth of advanced degree programs, and the quality of its continuing professional development programs for practicing teachers.
In the past decade, NCATE has shifted its evaluation emphasis, according to Associate Dean Mary Manke, who led the College's preparation for the accreditation review. She noted the emphasis was re-directed from reviewing the curricular offerings in the teacher education preparation program to rigorously assessing what teacher education candidates know and are capable of doing in the classroom as prospective certified teachers.
The site evaluation team that visited UW-RF praised the College's faculty as "excellent teachers and scholars who contribute to their profession" and who are highly respected in school districts regionally as a result of the very close relationships they have developed throughout the St. Croix Valley. The evaluation team noted that faculty demonstrated a commitment to professional growth both for students and themselves.
In assessing the teacher education students, the review team found that both undergraduate and graduate teacher candidates clearly and pervasively demonstrated that they are able to assess whether their students are learning.
The team also noted that practicing teachers in surrounding school districts who supervise UW-RF student teachers praised the quality of candidates placed with them for their enthusiasm, their knowledge of the latest teaching techniques, and their ability to manage classrooms.
Relating to diversity, the report noted that student teachers showed "remarkable" sensitivity to diversity issues. The evaluators found that UW-RF and the College are "committed to creating an education community which enhances student awareness and appreciation of diverse ethnicities and cultures and which actively supports tolerance, civility and respect for the rights and sensibilities for each person."
It noted that students are provided multiple opportunities to interact with students they perceive as different from themselves through school placements.
NCATE reviewers also cited the College's commitment to technology as a teaching and learning tool. COEPS previously was recognized by the National Education Association as one of the 11 best teacher preparation programs in the nation in part because of its exceptional use of technology. NCATE reviewers were impressed that technology is customized for use in graduate programs, elementary education, and secondary education programs.It also noted that all teacher education students are required to develop a multimedia assessment portfolio that tracks their progress as future teachers.
Also praised was the pervasive use of technology throughout the College's home in the Wyman Education Building. The site evaluation team remarked on its observations of the widespread use of technology by faculty and students and their apparent comfort with it.
Among those congratulating the College on its accreditation was Principal Mary Mackbee of Central High School in St. Paul.
"We are very pleased that our partner in Central High School's Teaching Academy program, was recognized for its excellence by NCATE. As a partner, the College of Education staff were instrumental in developing the concept and assisting with the planning process for the Teaching Academy at Central High School. The program is designed to encourage students to consider careers in urban education by providing a rigorous curriculum focusing on teaching, learning and children; opportunities for field experiences and service learning; and links to post-secondary training.
"We look forward to our continued association with UW-RF as we develop and nurture future teachers," Mackbee wrote.
Nationally, NCATE accredits 540 institutions out of the more than 3,000 programs of teacher education. In Wisconsin, of 33 public and private colleges and universities with teacher preparation programs, 11 are accredited by NCATE.
NCATE is recognized as a professional accrediting body by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. The National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Alliance of Business, and the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future support NCATE's performance-based accreditation standards and system.
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