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New Accrediting Body for Educator Preparation Seeks Public Comment
Education reform over the past decades has ushered in changes in standards, assessment, curriculum, and teacher evaluation. Most recently, the focus has turned to teachers and their professional preparation; research has shown that teachers are the most significant in-school influence on student achievement. While education reform is often politicized, the opposing sides share considerable common ground. In the end, those vested in the topic of education reform agree that every student deserves the best teachers and education possible.
The Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP) takes up its responsibilities as the new national accreditor of educator preparation providers, including more than 900 initially accredited providers currently accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC), at a time of high interest in P-12 student performance and in the capabilities of the education workforce. In this context, accreditation must be a strong lever in shaping educator preparation, assuring the public of the rigor of educator preparation programs.
Accreditation is a non-governmental activity based on peer-review that serves the dual functions of assuring quality and motivating improvement. CAEP, then, is ideally positioned to play an effective role through its accreditation standards as a collaborator and initiator of changes in educator preparation that enhance the effects of these widespread reforms.
Standards serve as the basis for any accreditor’s reviews and make expectations for evidence clear. These attributes of accreditation spring from a broad consensus across educator preparation stakeholders, data users and policymakers, and are what set accreditation apart from simple ranking systems. They act as a framework for continuous improvement. It is appropriate, then, that in May 2012 the first publically visible action of CAEP was the creation of its Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting. Specifically, the commission was charged with developing – for all preparation providers – the next generation of accreditation standards based on evidence, continuous improvement, innovation, and clinical practice.
The Commission’s work is organized around the three areas of teacher preparation identified by the National Research Council (NRC) as most likely to have the strongest effects on raising student achievement – content knowledge, clinical experience and the quality of teacher candidates. The Commission is also exploring other important functions of an accrediting body, including quality assurance, continuous improvement and public accountability and transparency.
And now it is your turn to weigh in. We need the thoughtful feedback of the full range of stakeholders in educator preparation. A link to the draft standards and instructions for public comment can be found online. The public comment period extends until March 29. Following this period, a summary of the comments received will be made available, and the commission will meet one final time in early June to finalize the standards to be presented to the CAEP Board of Directors.
With emerging evidence, data streams and the most sweeping education reforms in decades, CAEP is poised to work with educator preparation providers in using accreditation to leverage further advancement in the field, ensuring that P-12 students are prepared to compete in today’s global economy.