The latest accreditations granted by the Teacher Education Accrediting Council bring the number of institutions with that stamp of approval to just 20, a figure that continues to be dwarfed by its rival’s list.
TEAC was incorporated in 1997 as an alternative to the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, or NCATE, whose process was viewed by some as unnecessarily cumbersome and expensive.
“We had expected to have more accredited by this time,” conceded President Frank B. Murray, citing the struggle to get federal recognition, a move that was opposed by some of NCATE’s 33 constituent organizations.
The younger group, which has offices in Washington and Newark, Del., earned official standing with the U.S. Department of Education in 2003. Two years earlier, it received endorsement from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, which recognizes accreditors deemed worthy of providing rigorous evaluations of collegiate academic programs in their respective fields.
NCATE accredits 623 teacher education schools or departments, roughly half those in existence, said Jane Leibbrand, the Washington-based group’s vice president for communications. In addition, it has more than 80 institutions lined up to complete the process, she said.
TEAC has about the same number seeking accreditation, according to Mr. Murray.
The latest of TEAC’s accreditations indicate the preponderance of small colleges among its institutions, although the list also includes the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, and now three campuses of the State University of New York system. The newly accredited schools are: the State University of New York’s University at Buffalo; Texas Lutheran University, in Seguin; Davis and Elkins College, in Elkins, W.Va.; Alderson-Broaddus College, in Philippi, W.Va.; Utica College, in Utica, N.Y.; and the College of Mount Saint Vincent, in Riverdale, N.Y.
Proponents of TEAC’s approach, which allows institutions to set their own standards for teacher proficiency within a framework of continuous assessment and improvement, say the process is logical in a field where there is room for disagreement over what makes a good program.
NCATE’s supporters insist that its use of standards derived from many representatives of the profession as a whole is indispensable for program accountability and quality.
Mr. Murray says that his group does not view NCATE as a competitor. “Rather, we see all the unaccredited programs as our competitor,” he said in an e-mail. “The problem is that far too many programs simply ignore accreditation.”
Still, he argues, TEAC has made considerable progress, given the obstacles it faced, and could be positioned to grow faster in the years ahead.
“TEAC has attracted its 101 candidates and accredited members in eight years, and in a period in which there was choice, political opposition, and many state regulations that favored, or required, a single accreditor (NCATE),” he wrote. “Now that states are increasingly accepting TEAC as an option, the picture is likely to change.”
A version of this article appeared in the July 12, 2006 edition of Education Week as Teacher-Education Accrediting Group’s Numbers Up to 20