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Published in Print: April 7, 1999, as Mo. University Switches Teacher Ed. Accreditation Allegiance

Mo. University Switches Teacher Ed. Accreditation Allegiance

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A Missouri university that withdrew its membership and joined a rival accrediting group after being put on probation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education is now championing legislation that would lessen state oversight of teacher-training programs.

Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., which had been a member of NCATE for 39 years, dropped out last fall and became a charter member of the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

The move followed a review by NCATE examiners that found numerous problems with Lindenwood's teacher education programs, including what the examiners cited as inadequate supervision of student-teachers and poorly designed field experiences for student-teachers. The private university graduates about 150 new teachers each year.

Dennis Spellmann, the president of Lindenwood, then worked with Missouri legislators to introduce a pending bill that would require the state school board to approve teacher-preparation programs that can demonstrate that 80 percent of their graduates pass nationally normed qualifying tests.

Mr. Spellmann said last week that the focus on results, rather than process, would steer the state away from "subjective, politically correct" standards for teacher education.

But Arthur E. Wise, the president of NCATE, said Lindenwood's move "fulfills the predictions" of people who warned that institutions not meeting NCATE standards would seek approval from the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, known as TEAC.

TEAC, which, like NCATE, has offices in Washington, plans to pilot-test its own set of standards for teacher education programs this year. It has garnered considerable criticism for its emphasis on allowing members to set their own standards, rather than work with subject-matter and teaching organizations to create a common set of criteria for the profession, as NCATE does.

Wanting To Be Different

Missouri has entered into a partnership with NCATE that permits institutions to go through both the accrediting body's national review and the state program-approval process at the same time.

"What we have stood for is local control versus national," Mr. Spellmann said. "We want to be different."

Robert E. Bartman, the state commissioner of education, testified against the bill at a legislative hearing last week. He argues that it would be "shortsighted" for the state to focus only on how many prospective teachers pass a test.

The measure strikes at the heart of the state board's authority to set policies governing public instruction, he added.

"They want to be left alone to do what it is they want to do," he said of Lindenwood University.

Vol. 18, Issue 30, Page 8

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