OBU's Division of Teacher Education has proven its commitment to producing quality teachers for the United States' children by achieving continued 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.
"Continuing accreditation says we have met and continue to meet national standards and have undergone a rigorous review by outside professionals, both on the state and national levels," said Dr. Pam Robinson, dean of OBU's College of Arts and Sciences. "The goal of all teacher preparation programs is to prepare effective teachers to facilitate learning in all students. Accreditation documents our faculty are maintaining currency in their respective fields -- elementary, music, science, etc. -- for the dual purpose of imparting knowledge to our teacher candidates and providing structure for our candidates to problem solve and create as they participate in various field experiences, including student teaching."
Studies show that teacher quality is the most important factor in P-12 student achievement. Professional accreditation is one way to ensure the public that schools of education are graduating well-qualified teachers ready for today's classrooms. NCATE currently accredits 623 institutions which produce two-thirds of the nation's new teacher graduates each year. Ninety-nine institutions are candidates or pre-candidates for accreditation.
OBU's Division of Teacher Education has been accredited since Jan. 1, 1968. It offers recognized programs in early childhood education, elementary education, secondary English education, secondary mathematics education, secondary science education, Spanish education, special education, and health, physical education and recreation education.
"I am so proud of the excellent reputation and quality of our Teacher Education program," said OBU President David W. Whitlock. "Dean Robinson and the faculty have built a stellar program as recognized by this prestigious accreditation."
NCATE-accredited schools must meet rigorous standards set by the profession and members of the public. According to NCATE, 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 university must carefully assess this knowledge and skill to determine that candidates may graduate, and it 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. University faculty must model effective teaching practices. And the university must have the resources, including information technology resources, necessary to prepare candidates to meet new standards.
Robinson expressed appreciation for the partnerships OBU's Division of Teacher Education has fostered with local and area school districts for their support in achieving continuing accreditation, including Shawnee, McLoud, Tecumseh, Grove, North Rock Creek, Pleasant Grove, Bethel, Dale, South Rock Creek, Meeker, Oklahoma City, Mid-Del, Putnam City and Edmond, among others.
NCATE revises its standards every five years to incorporate best practices and research 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.
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.
More information about NCATE is available at here.