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Wash. Board Recertifies Teacher-Education Program

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By Karen Diegmueller

The Washington State Board of Education has reinstated the certification of the state's largest teacher-education institution.

Central Washington University, which graduates some 400 teacher candidates annually, was put on probation in September after state officials determined that the teacher-preparation program had failed to meet the state's new, more rigorous standards. The program disapproval marked the first time the state board had taken such an action since it adopted the tougher standards in 1988. (See Education Week, Oct. 9, 1991.) As a result of lifting the probation, the university will be permitted to enroll students in teacher education for the winter term.

"Over all, it was a very impressive effort on their part to get into compliance in a very short time," said John L. Brickell, the supervisor of professional education for the state education department.

The state board voted unanimously last month to approve the program following a three-day site visit to the campus by an eight-member team led by Mr. Brickell.

The examiners found that the institution had corrected deficiencies in such major areas as implementing essential skills and knowledge in courses and field work. Improvement was also found in efforts to guarantee that every student has multicultural field experiences and works with the handicapped and gifted.

Weaknesses Seen Remaining

Although Central Washington met all the standards, the examiners noted that some weaknesses remain. Citing a lack of resources, for instance, the team indicated that the faculty load was too high.

Another concern was whether the progress that had been made would be able to continue, given the number of administrators who were serving in interim capacities. They include the provost, the dean who presides over teacher education, and the director of the department of education. The university's president is due to retire shortly as well.

To address that and several other concerns, the board approved an informal return visit to the campus at the end of the academic year.

Mr. Brickell said the state department anticipates conducting seven more site visits by the end of the 1991-92 year. The remainder of the 19 teacher-preparation institutions in the state will be visited during the next two years.

Discoveries of the deficiencies at Central Washington, which were uncovered in large measure by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, prompted the state board to seek on-site visits, rather than rely chiefly on paper compliance, as it had in the past.

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