Chiefs To Seek Major Role in Accreditation of Education Programs

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Wilmington, Del.--The Council of Chief State School Officers last week agreed to seek a major role in the affairs of the national accrediting body for teacher education.

The council voted to work for a considerable expansion of its representation within a soon-to-be-reorganized National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, a voluntary organization that accredits education schools that train a majority of the nation's teachers.

"There is a real concern that the organizations in control of ncate are not committed to an overall reform of teacher education," said Calvin M. Frazier, commissioner of education in Colorado, in explaining the move to other council members at the organization's annual meeting here last week.

No Recent Participation

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the National Education Association hold a majority of the positions on the accrediting body's policymaking committee.

Though the state school officers' council holds a position in ncate's leadership structure, it has not participated in the accrediting group's affairs for the past several years.

Ted Sanders, superintendent of public instruction in Nevada and chairman of the ad hoc committee the council charged with developing a plan for increased participation in ncate, told the council that "general apprehension about what ncate was or was not doing to close some of ... the 'intellectual cesspools' in the country has caused us to not participate" in the activities or funding of ncate.

Mr. Sanders said in an interview last week that a resurgence of interest in teacher education and an expression of interest by aacte and the nea to improve ncate has caused the chiefs to renew its interest in the accrediting organization. "There cannot be meaningful talks about reform without talking about the quality of teachers," he said.

'Key Players'

The plan approved by the council calls for state commissioners and superintendents to become "key players" in a "national presence" in teacher education.

Specifically, it instructs the council to reactivate its participation in ncate, with the stipulation that ncate forgive all previous membership fees owed to it by the council.

Mr. Sanders said he had met with ncate officials in recent months and that they had expressed an interest in a renewed council role in the organization and had agreed to forgive back dues owed by the council.

The plan calls for increased participation by council members in ncate's policymaking bodies and for a renewed role in ncate by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (nasdtec), whose members oversee teacher education for the chief state school officer in each state.

Mr. Sanders said nasdtec, like the chiefs, abandoned the accrediting group because of its willingness to accredit low-quality education programs.

Majority Position Sought

The plan calls for the chiefs and nasdtec to hold the majority of seats on a new ncate committee that will be responsible for accrediting such areas as the curriculum and academic standards of education schools under a reorganization plan that is being developed within ncate. (See Education Week, Oct. 24, 1984.)

"We're investing a lot of hope in the outcome of the redesign process," Mr. Sanders said.

The recommendations approved by the council also call for represen-tation of the American Federation of Teachers within ncate. Currently, that teachers' union does not participate in the accrediting group. The nea, its rival, maintains about one-third of the voting positions in ncate.

"There should be a role for teachers in accreditation and that means all teachers," Mr. Sanders said. "This is going to be a very difficult, political issue." He said the council has not approached the aft or the nea about its proposal.

New Organization?

Mr. Sanders said that if the council does not see adequate improvements in ncate within a few years, it might act to create a new accrediting body.

"Collectively," he said, "we could probably forge a new organization, through our constitutional authority in the states, that could provide accreditation standards for teacher education."

He also reported to the chiefs the results of recent efforts to develop a closer working relationship between the council and aacte. Representatives of the two organizations recently agreed to cooperate on three projects:

The identification of existing and proposed strategies to recruit and retain top teachers.

The development of information on the supply and demand of teachers and the development of strategies for handling teacher shortages.

The identification of strategies to "promote genuine changes and improvements in teacher preparation."

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