NCATE Approves Outcome Standards for Preparation of Teachers

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The national body that accredits teacher-training institutions last week ratified its first set of outcomes-based content standards for the preparation of teachers.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education approved standards for curriculum and teacher-candidate performance that have been developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Library Association, as well as the advanced physical-education guidelines of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

The NCATE board of directors took the action at its semi-annual meeting in Washington.

With this action, NCATE has affirmed that teachers who graduate from nationally accredited colleges of education should be capable of preparing students to meet performance standards established by the separate subject-matter groups.

Aspiring math teachers, for instance, will have to demonstrate that they can communicate mathematical ideas in writing using everyday language.

"We would expect students also to be able to do that,'' said Nancy Tanner Edwards, a professor of education at Missouri Western State College and the chairwoman of the N.C.T.M.'s advisory council for professional development and status.

The standards for students that have been set by some of the groups and the new standards for teacher candidates "blend well together,'' she added.

Although the endorsement of standards in subject-specific areas is a cyclical process within NCATE, these four groups were the first of the 18 professional associations affiliated with NCATE to have their standards reviewed under new guidelines that emphasize outcomes-based standards.

Continuing Accreditation

NCATE also ratified a new continuing accreditation system for higher-education institutions that have undergone an initial, comprehensive review under a redesigned system that took effect in 1987.

Following a streamlined process, smaller NCATE site teams will make shorter campus visits five years after each school's initial review.

The teams will seek evidence that the schools have maintained the level of quality found in their initial reviews and have corrected any weaknesses.

Each institution will be expected to prepare a 25-page overview describing changes, new initiatives, and improvements made since their earlier review.

"We would expect most institutions to be maintaining their accreditation through this particular visit unless, of course, there are problems discovered,'' said Arthur E. Wise, the president of NCATE.

Although implementation of the new process is to begin in the spring of 1995, 18 institutions are being evaluated under the new system in a pilot project that aims to work out bugs and determine if annual reports to NCATE provide sufficient information between site visits.

The next step in the redesign of NCATE's accrediting process is the drafting of a plan for 10-year reviews. While these surveys of institutions are unlikely to be as comprehensive as the initial reviews, they are expected to be more intensive than the five-year examinations, Mr. Wise said.

The accrediting agency last week also announced that it had entered into partnership agreements with the states of Maine, Ohio, and Virginia. Under such agreements, which now number 32 nationwide, state officials and NCATE conduct joint reviews of teacher-training institutions.

The joint visits are intended to free institutions from the need to undergo duplicative reviews.

Vol. 13, Issue 06

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