TEACH-NOW, an online teacher-preparation program, has received a full seven-year accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation—making it the first online institution to meet the council’s new, more-rigorous standards.
“It’s a huge milestone,” said Emily Feistritzer, the founder and CEO of TEACH-NOW. In 2011, she founded the program, which takes candidates nine months to finish before they become certified.
“This program is really built on the delivery model of activity-based, collaborative learning,” she said. “I’m ecstatic that it works.”
The first class began in March 2013 and since then TEACH-NOW has accepted and enrolled almost 1,500 people in 80 countries and 44 states.
With the accreditation, TEACH-NOW plans to expand more intentionally into offering professional development to districts, Feistrizer said. The program’s online modules—ranging from student assessments to learning in the digital age—would be helpful to already-certified teachers as well, she said.
“We intend to make those much more available now,” she said. “We’re in constant conversations with [District of Columbia public schools], and we are actually working with schools and countries around the world.”
CAEP unveiled its more-ambitious standards for program accreditation in 2013. Teacher-preparation programs are judged on five standards, which contain multiple benchmarks—equipping candidates with content knowledge and appropriate pedagogical tools; working in partnership with districts to provide strong student-teaching practice and feedback; recruiting a diverse and academically strong group of candidates; demonstrating that graduates are successfully boosting P-12 students’ academic achievement; and maintaining a quality-assurance system.
If the program fails to meet just one benchmark, it cannot be accredited for two years, until it provides proof that it has remedied the problem. In December, 17 of the 21 programs that applied received accreditation, Brenda Iasevoli reported.
Men comprise 42 percent of TEACH-NOW enrollees, according to the program’s data, and 45 percent of enrollees are people of color. (Nationwide, 82 percent of teachers are white women.)
“We don’t actively recruit for any of those markets,” Feistrizer said. “I think [it’s because] the program is so candidate-driven. We really, really do focus on the people who enroll in TEACH-NOW. I do the orientation session [and say to the candidates], ‘There’s nobody more important in TEACH-NOW than you.’ ... It’s a very intimate, collaborative learning environment.”
While TEACH-NOW’s highest concentration of enrollees is people in their 30s who are switching careers, Feistrizer said more and more recent college graduates are enrolling in the program.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.