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Jump in Accreditation Fees Irks Schools of Education

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A decision by the national group that accredits teacher-education programs to raise its fees schedule has drawn the wrath of its higher-education constituency.3

To rid itself of its first-ever deficit, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education has decided to charge higher-education institutions fees that generally double their current payments.

Ncate's executive board last month approved the restructured fee schedule, which will result in an increase of roughly 50 percent in the 1991-92 academic year and a similar increase in the following year. Fees will vary by institution, with larger ones expected to pay more.

The new schedule is based on the number of teacher-education graduates produced by a school, college, or department of education.

In fiscal 1992, institutions will pay a $750 base fee that will also cover up to 50 graduates, according to Judith White, director of constituent relations. Institutions with more than 500 graduates will be charged a total of $1,250.

The new fees, she said, still fall short of those charged by other professional accrediting bodies.

Ncate raised its fees despite objections from its higher-education constituency--the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education--whose members will be expected to pay the increased amounts.

Some members, who have already voiced dissatisfaction with the accrediting body's new standards, intimated that the higher fees, in combination with the application of the standards, could lead to the defection of aacte members from ncate.

About 70 percent of aacte members currently are ncate accredited.

But if the accrediting body had not raised its fees, "ncate would have L8gone out of business" in a year and a half, Arthur E. Wise, its president, told aacte members at their annual meeting in Atlanta two weeks ago. The accrediting body apparently began running into financial difficulties when it redesigned its standards and procedures to make them more rigorous.

Since the new standards took effect in the fall of 1988, approximately one-third of the institutions that have applied for national accredita tion have failed to meet them.

Gary D. Fenstermacher, the new ly installed president of aacte and a member of the ncate executive board, said ncate was underfunded to perform the task of the redesign.

Although ncate's current budget of approximately $800,000 will in crease, Ms. White said, the total budget is uncertain until the com mittee that recommended the fees increase also completes its task of reviewing constituent dues.

Meanwhile, ncate will receive $600,000 from the Lilly Endowment that will be used to develop standards for advanced-studies programs as well as a communications plan.

In an initial step to expose a broader range of the education com munity to ncate's mission of pro moting teacher-education reform, the organization will begin notify ing state affiliates of the National School Boards Association of the outcomes of its accreditation visits.

"It's critically important that the consumers of our services become aware of our important quality-con trol role," Mr. Wise said.

The process coincides with ncate's current practice of notifying chief state school officers and presidents and executive directors of state teach ers' associations of its decisions.

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