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U. of Alabama's Graduate Programs Face Loss of National

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The national accrediting body for teacher education has voted to drop its endorsement of the doctoral and "six-year" programs at the University of Alabama's college of education, one of the largest suppliers of graduate degrees in the Southeast.

The decision by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (ncate) to withdraw its approval of the education school's advanced programs was based primarily on a lack of scholarly research by the school's faculty, according to University of Alabama officials.

The school is appealing the accreditation decision, and under ncate policy the accrediting body may not comment on a decision until the appeals process is completed.

However, according to a source familiar with ncate's decision, the near-unanimous vote in March to withdraw accreditation from the programs at the university of represented the first time ncate has rejected a major education school's advanced programs on the basis of a faculty's scholarly record.

ncate is a nonprofit organization that accredits some 540 colleges and universities that graduate nearly 80 percent of the nation's new teachers each year.

In accordance with ncate procedures, the decision by the 36 voting members of ncate's governing council was based on the report of an independent 12-member team that visited the school and evaluated all of its programs--graduate and undergraduate--against the accrediting organization's 24 standards.

Alabama's doctoral and "six-year" (post-master's) programs failed to meet a series of standards on faculty performance.

However, the school's M.A. and undergraduate programs were accredited.

According to the school's statistics, the Alabama college of education has a graduate enrollment of 750 and last year awarded 65 Ph.D.'s, making it one of the major suppliers of doctoral degrees in the region.

M.L. Roberts Jr., acting dean of the college of education, said the majority of those who receive doctoral degrees from the school take college-level teaching positions in education or assume administrative positions in school systems in the Southeast.

Mr. Roberts and E. Roger Sayers, the university's vice president for academic affairs, said the education school's failure to meet the ncate standards resulted from inadequate preparation by the school of a "self-study" that is required by ncate prior to the visiting team's inspection.

They said that more detailed information has been assembled for presentation at an ncate appeals hearing to be held later this month.

"It will demonstrate that we have not violated the standards," Mr. Sayers said.

The loss of ncate accreditation would have a significant effect on the school's prestige, according to Mr. Roberts. "Potential students would be concerned that the college is not recognized by a national accrediting body," he said.

Commenting on how the ncate decision reflects on the quality of Alabama's education programs, Mr. Sayers said: "Well, this particular situation has caused us to look more carefully at the college of education."

The last ncate evaluation of the education programs at the University of Alabama was 10 years ago.

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