The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education has examined the Department of Teacher Ed-ucation program at Shawnee State University for the first time since the department was accredited in 2002.
NCATE is a non-profit, non-governmental alliance of 33 national professional education and public organizations to accredit universities. SSU received the initial NCATE accreditation in 2002.
"NCATE accreditation is the premier accreditation of Teacher Education programs in the United States," said Paul Madden, associate professor and chair of Teacher Education at SSU. "It provides recognition that we've gone through an external board review and when compared to other institutions on a national scale, we meet the same standards as every other institution that has achieved this accreditation."
Teacher Education has gone through several phases of approval over the years. The department was first approved in 1992 by the Ohio Department of Education to prepare teachers and later approved by ODE and the Ohio Board of Regents to offer degrees and licensure programs for teachers under new standards in 1998. After the approval of new programs, Teacher Education sought NCATE accreditation.
NCATE sets six standards in the department as a guide:
- Candidates must demonstrate the content knowledge and the classroom teaching ability and skills to be successful teachers;
- Assessment system to collect data on the performance of candidates and the program;
- Field experiences early in the teacher program;
- Diversity issues related to students and faculty at the university and to students and teachers in K-12 grades;
- Faculty standards and what degrees the faculty holds; and
- Resources that the university has allocated for the teacher program, including faculty, technology and library resources, among others.
A Board of Examiners made up of five people from throughout the country, a faculty union member and one representative from the Ohio Department of Education meet on campus for five days to determine eligibility of the university's program. Every seven years, the department will go through reaccreditation from NCATE.
"The students at SSU can go anywhere in the country and apply to any school district and even if the school has not heard about SSU, they will recognize the NCATE accreditation," Madden said. "NCATE means a lot to students when they graduate. It helps them in a job search on a national scale."
The visiting Board of Examiners team has recommended the accreditation of SSU's Teacher Education program to the NCATE Board, but it will be several months for the final approval from NCATE's Unit Accreditation Board.
Locally, SSU's Teacher Education program has contracts with 50 schools in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky where the students will go for student teaching.
Students go to the early grades, middle school and high school in the student teaching program. They must complete between 718 to 827 hours of professional field and clinical hours during their preparation program and at least 450 hours of student teaching before licensure recommendation.
The first international student teaching experience was in the spring semester of 2008 with four candidates teaching in China.