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W.Va. Clears Way for Requiring NCATE Approval of Teacher Colleges

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Public teacher education institutions in West Virginia are expected to undergo national accreditation, as a result of a measure approved by the legislature.

The bill, passed by lawmakers this spring, transfers power over the teacher training institutions from the state board of education to two state higher-education governing bodies.

The action was taken more than a year after the state board of education lifted the requirement that teacher preparation colleges and schools be accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

At the time, the state board said it intended to replace the NCATE system with a dual-accreditation track. Institutions could either opt for meeting the national accrediting body's standards or those that would be developed by the state.

While the state board maintained that its standards would be at least as rigorous as those of NCATE, critics questioned how tougher standards could satisfy the higher-education institutions that had pressured the board to rescind the mandate in the first place. (See Education Week, Dec. 4, 1991.)

An additional accreditation track has yet to be developed.

Since the state board's action, many higher-education officials who had wanted the NCATE requirement removed have changed their minds, said Jane H. Applegate, the dean of education at West Virginia University.

Separate Roles Cited

The new law transfers power over accreditation issues to the two governing bodies that oversee higher education in the state.

The law gives the higher-education boards "the exclusive authority to approve the teacher education programs offered in the institutions under their control.''

"In order to permit graduates of teacher education programs to receive a degree from a nationally accredited program and in order to prevent expensive duplication of program accreditation,'' the law continues, "the boards may select and utilize one nationally recognized teacher education program accreditation standard as the appropriate standard for program evaluation.''

Although NCATE is not named in the statute, it is the only nationally recognized accrediting body for teacher education.

The higher-education governing bodies will almost certainly require their institutions to participate in NCATE. Both the state-college and the state-university systems passed resolutions this winter stating their support of the accrediting body and objecting to what they called duplicative state review.

Under the new structure, the colleges will educate, NCATE will accredit, and the state board will license teachers, said Charles W. Manning, the chancellor of the university system.

"It's good public policy to have those be separate and distinct,'' Mr. Manning said.

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