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Texas A&M Teacher Program Wins NCATE Endorsement

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Texas A&M University has become the first public teacher-training institution in that state to win national accreditation since the Texas legislature passed a law restricting teacher-preparation courses in state schools to 18 credit hours.

At its biannual meeting May 8, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education announced that Texas A&M was among the 44 institutions to earn NCATE accreditation in the latest round.

Of the 52 schools up for accreditation, 1 was accredited with stipulations, while 7 were rejected.

"Texas A&M was able to restructure teacher-education programs in such a way that it met NCATE's new demanding expectations while accommodating state law,'' said Arthur E. Wise, the president of the accrediting agency.

"A number of our programs were shifted to liberal arts or science, and we worked closely with them so that those programs had field components,'' said Jane A. Stallings, the dean of Texas A&M's college of education.

"We just made certain that [NCATE] requirements were in programs other than those identified as education,'' she said.

At least 10 Texas teacher-preparation programs have bowed out of NCATE since the passage of the controversial 1986 state law, which limits the professional studies of prospective teachers and requires elementary-education undergraduates to major in an academic discipline.

Some teacher educators have attempted to have Texas' education schools banished from NCATE outright, but Mr. Wise has maintained that the agency should consider the institutions on a case-by-case basis. (See Education Week, Sept. 26, 1990.)

Many, if not all, of the Texas education schools were aware that an NCATE site team had visited the Texas A&M campus last fall, and officials at those institutions were awaiting the decision made by the accrediting agency's Unit Accreditation Board.

Ms. Stallings said representatives from three other Texas schools have visited her school to learn how it restructured its programs to meet NCATE standards and to ask for guidance in undergoing their own reviews.

2 Appeals Denied

Also released this month were the names of two schools reviewed by NCATE in the spring of 1991 whose appeals have been denied: Oklahoma State University and East Stroudsburg State College in Pennsylvania.

Deans at the two schools last week expressed dissatisfaction with both the examiners' site visits and the appeal process.

"I don't think it was a reasonable decision,'' said Kenneth King, the dean of the college of education at Oklahoma State University, which has one of the largest teacher-education programs in the state.

Mr. King criticized what he sees as inconsistencies in site visits. One school might be failed in one area, such as the number of minority students, he maintained, while another school in the same state with the same number of such students could pass that standard.

Institutions are given 30 minutes to make their case in an appeal hearing, which Mr. King said is insufficient.

He said that "some changes are going to be necessary within our program and within NCATE before we would look favorably'' on reapplying for accreditation.

Michael Davis, the dean of East Stroudsburg State's school of professional studies, which includes teacher education, said he remains a supporter of the NCATE standards despite his dissatisfaction with the site visit.

"They were here to evaluate our teacher-education program, and not one team member visited a teacher-ed class,'' he said.

He also asserted that the team misinterpreted some of the standards and did not seem to understand mandates imposed on state colleges under Pennsylvania's collective-bargaining agreement.

The faculty and administration at East Stroudsburg have not decided whether to invite NCATE back for another visit.

Latest Round of Decisions

Schools denied accreditation in the latest NCATE round include Fort Hays State University in Kansas and Fort Valley State College in Georgia.

Harold Harty, the dean of the school of education at Fort Valley State, said his school did not meet the NCATE standards in the areas of faculty workload, finances, delivery of curriculum, and, at the graduate level, the amount of time faculty members spend on school-based projects.

He said that "we'll have a stronger teacher-education program'' as a result of the process. The school has invited NCATE to send another team in November.

Mary Hoy, the dean at Fort Hays State, said her school sent a rejoinder to NCATE , pointing out evidence that it believes the site team did not consider. Fort Hays will not appeal the accreditation decision, she said, and the faculty and other officials at the university are considering whether to continue their affiliation with NCATE.

The names of five other schools denied accreditation were withheld. Four of them have filed appeals; the fifth is allowed to maintain its anonymity because it had sought national accreditation for the first time.

Over all, 70 percent of the schools that have undergone the process since new NCATE standards went into effect in 1988 have been accredited. That compares with a rate of 66.4 percent before the most recent round.

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