Colleges Council To Explore Creating Alternative to NCATE
The executive board of the Council of Independent Colleges has authorized its staff to examine the possibility of creating an alternative system of teacher-education accreditation.
The council, which represents about 320 small liberal-arts colleges, made the decision two weeks ago based on the recommendation of a task force of college presidents formed last year.
Next, the C.I.C. will try to find some partners in the venture, in particular the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. AASCU, whose roughly 375 member institutions train more than half of the nation's teachers, has expressed concerns about the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education since its redesign.
The C.I.C. will also begin surveying all of its members to assess their "depth of feeling," said Allen P. Splete, the group's executive director.
"We're not saying anybody has to leave NCATE," Mr. Splete said. "We're just saying this vehicle doesn't seem to be working."
Both the council and AASCU have complained about the governance and fee structure of NCATE.
"With the contributions that small liberal-arts colleges are making, they deserve to have adequate representation and their thoughts given a lot of consideration," Mr. Splete contended.
Mr. Splete also noted a perceived difference in philosophy between NCATE and the liberal arts colleges about the proportion of teacher-preparation courses a student takes as part of his or her overall college education, with the agency placing more emphasis on pedagogy and the schools leaning toward a broader array of courses.
Arthur E. Wise, the president of NCATE, said the revolt was not surprising "given the fact that NCATE is becoming a meaningful accreditation agency and not the paper tiger it once was."
"Schools out there which fear they will not be able to meet our standards... will be shopping for an accreditation association whose standards they can meet," Mr. Wise maintained.
Currently, NCATE is the only body authorized by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation to accredit teacher education.
Data indicate that C.I.C. schools are faring better than are institutions overall. Of the 24 C.I.C. schools that have been reviewed under the new NCATE standards, 78.3 percent were accredited, compared with the overall institutional-passage rate of 66.4 percent.