A group seeking to offer teacher education programs an alternative form of accreditation has tapped University of Delaware professor Frank B. Murray, a prominent scholar and advocate of teacher professionalism, to serve at its helm.
Mr. Murray’s appointment as the president of the nascent Teacher Education Accreditation Council came as a surprise to some given his work with the long-established National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, whose philosophy on evaluating programs contrasts sharply with that of TEAC.
But others say TEAC’s choice in a new leader lends credence to its efforts, which have been criticized by some educators who question the need for two accrediting bodies.
“I didn’t quite know what to make of TEAC when I first heard of it,” said Russell Edgerton, who directs education programs for the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts. “Now that I know it’s in Frank’s hands, I’m excited by it.”
Building a New Model
Mr. Murray is well-known for his work in building bridges between schools of education and other institutions.
He was a founder of Project 30, a group of education schools seeking ways to strengthen the links with their universities’ arts and sciences programs. He also directed the Holmes Partnership, which has called on teacher education programs to make themselves more relevant to the needs of prospective classroom teachers and to seek stronger ties with elementary and secondary schools.
What attracted him to TEAC, Mr. Murray said, is the group’s idea of using an “academic audit” as an evaluation tool. Rather than assess what goes into a teacher education program--or how it measures up to comprehensive and external standards, as NCATE does--the council plans to require programs to show evidence that they are meeting their own goals.
As a result, the evaluation process that TEAC is still designing will focus on individual institutions’ outputs. The council plans to announce later this summer the six teacher education programs participating in its pilot program. It expects to begin awarding accreditation within two years.
Although TEAC’s headquarters are in Washington, Mr. Murray will work out of the University of Delaware’s college of education, where he plans to continue to teach graduate-level seminars. Nonetheless, he described the new post as a full-time effort, and gave up the chairmanship of the Holmes Partnership as he took over TEAC’s reins last week.
Confusing the Issue?
The council’s choice for its president did not erase the concerns of some who worry that its process will not be sufficiently rigorous--or independent. The main force behind TEAC’s founding was the Council of Independent Colleges, and many of the new group’s leaders are college presidents. In contrast, NCATE’s leadership includes numerous subject-area groups, the two national teachers’ unions, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. (“Alternative Accrediting Organization Taking Form With Federal Assistance,” Jan. 21, 1998.)
“I have no problem with audits, but they’re essentially an internal device,” said Hendrik D. Gideonse, the dean emeritus of the University of Cincinnati’s college of education. Mr. Gideonse added that he was “astounded” by Mr. Murray’s appointment given the Delaware professor’s involvement in the Holmes Partnership, which counts the Washington-based NCATE among its partners. Mr. Murray also has worked extensively with the association of teacher education colleges, which has promoted NCATE accreditation as a way to improve teacher preparation.
But Mr. Murray believes that the field is big enough for two such efforts, and that they needn’t be viewed as competitors.
“Certainly, at this moment in time, we haven’t captured all the good ideas out there yet, so it’s too soon for a monopoly,” he said. “I personally don’t want to define TEAC as what NCATE isn’t. That’s not the motive on my part. To me, the motive is that this looks like a very interesting idea.”
A version of this article appeared in the July 08, 1998 edition of Education Week as Prominent Teacher-Educator Appointed First President of TEAC