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A.F.T. May Seek Membership In More-Demanding NCATE

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Recent moves by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education to revise and upgrade its standards and procedures may prompt the American Federation of Teachers to reverse a longstanding policy and seek membership in the organization, a union official said last week.

In the past, the aft has not sought membership in ncate because its standards have been "too weak," said Marilyn Rauth, executive director of the union's department of educational issues.

ncate accredits teacher-education programs in the nation's colleges and universities. Its 10 constituent members include the nation's largest teachers' union, the National Education Association.

"We have always had an interest in joining ncate, but we never thought it would be a credible involvement," Ms. Rauth said in an interview last week. "We are now looking at the new standards to see if the time is right."

The aft's criticisms have been echoed by other education groups in recent years--among them some of ncate's own members--who have characterized the organization's standards and procedures as arbitrary and inconsistent.

Program Redesign

In response, ncate officials approved last summer a "redesign" of its accrediting program that will require teacher-training programs to institute tougher entrance and exit requirements for students, assess their graduates' progress through the first year of teaching, and provide "quantitative" information on the quality of instruction teacher candidates receive. (See Education Week, June 19, 1985.)

"It is critical to the profession of teaching to have teachers involved in its governance," Ms. Rauth said. "If this is one of the bodies that would help teachers move in the di-rection of higher standards and professionalization, then we would want to be involved."

Decision Not Yet Made

Ms. Rauth said the aft had not yet made a final decision on seeking ncate membership. A series of formal discussions between representatives of the aft and ncate-member groups will take place "very soon," she said. Then, the final decision will rest with the aft's executive committee.

Groups seeking ncate membership must receive approval from the the group's 25-member coordinating board, which bases the decision on recommendations from its membership and finance committee, to which all groups must apply.

The nea has been a member of ncate since the accrediting group was formed in 1954.

Support Voiced

According to Richard C. Kunkel, executive director of ncate, two of the accrediting group's constituent members, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Association of State Boards of Education, have already formally advocated the inclusion of the aft in ncate.

And David G. Imig, the executive director of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, another ncate member, said last week that he believed "all the major organizations representing teachers ought to be included in the accreditation process."

Last summer, Mary Hatwood Futrell, president of the nea, said in an Education Week interview that her union was not opposed to aft membership in the accrediting body.

"If they ask to join, we will discuss their coming in just as we would discuss any other group coming in," Ms. Futrell said. "We would have to look at what role they would want to play, just like all the other groups."

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