TTU'S College of Education Receives Continuing Accreditation

Studies show that teacher quality is the most important factor in preschool - 12th grade 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 colleges of education are graduating well-qualified teachers ready for today's classrooms. Tennessee Technological University's College of Education has proven its commitment to producing quality teachers for our nation's children by achieving continuing accreditation for its undergraduate and graduate programs 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.

Tennessee Tech is one of 57 colleges of education that received either initial or continuing accreditation by NCATE's Unit Accreditation Board in its most recent round of decisions. Approximately 500 institutions are accredited by NCATE. Those institutions produce two-thirds of the nation's new teacher graduates. Within the state of Tennessee, 15 of the 42 colleges and universities offering teacher education programs are accredited by NCATE.

NCATE-accredited schools must meet rigorous standards set by the profession and members of the public. NCATE standards expect accredited colleges of education to ensure that subject matter content, and how to teach it, is a priority; to emphasize school district collaboration; to ensure that candidates can use technology in instruction; and to prepare teacher candidates to teach students from diverse backgrounds. The standards also require the college of education to design a conceptual framework for each program that is based on current and established research and best practice.

NCATE is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education 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.

The redesigned 1995 accreditation standards emphasize teacher performance. They focus on what teacher candidates should know and be able to do, and expect candidates to demonstrate specific skills. Multiple types of performance assessment are expected throughout the program of study, and candidate competence is assessed prior to the completion of the program. NCATE will soon be implementing even more rigorous performance-based standards for teacher preparation institutions with its "NCATE 2000" plan.

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. Tennessee Tech's College of Education has maintained its accreditation with NCATE since its inception and continues to believe in the importance of national accreditation as a means of strengthening overall program quality. Faculty at Tennessee Tech take national accreditation seriously and prepare conscientiously for external accreditation evaluation visits.

Within the past few years, Tennessee Tech has initiated an innovative technology based program with six 21st-Century Classrooms, a student laboratory, and a college-wide production facility to provide Tennessee Tech graduates with cutting edge skills for integrating technology into all aspects of classroom teaching. This skill has positively impacted the Upper Cumberland region through graduates who have been employed in area schools and through the professional growth of area teachers, principals, and supervisors who have been involved in in-service offerings through the College of Education or have taken graduate level technology courses in the college.

Tennessee Tech's education technology initiatives are supported by a million dollar endowment from alumnus Judith Jeffers Davis in memory of her father, Horace Jeffers, a school administrator in Scott County.

For more information about Tennessee Tech's teacher education program, visit the Web site at www.tntech.edu/www/acad/coe/. More information about NCATE is available at www.ncate.org.