When a teacher-preparation college or university achieves accreditation, you can be confident it offers a high-quality education. But what makes accreditation so important?
The History of Accreditation
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) was founded in 1954 as a non-profit, non-governmental accrediting body. Recognizing the value of having a neutral third-party assess the quality of teacher education in the United States, NCATE adopted the motto: “The Standard of Excellence in Teacher Preparation.” The group was officially recognized as an accreditor by the U.S. Department of Education.
Then, in 1997, the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) was formed, dedicated to improving academic degree programs for professional educators in schools pre-K through 12. Approved by both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), TEAC has a singular goal: to improve teacher education degree programs and create competent, qualified, caring professional educators.
Beginning in 2009, these two groups, NCATE and TEAC, joined forces to form a new accrediting body. By July of 2013, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, CAEP, was fully operational as the only accrediting body for educator preparation providers. In 2016, CAEP accreditation standards were fully implemented, replacing NCATE and TEAC legacy standards. CAEP is currently recognized by CHEA and the U.S. Department of Education.
The Value of Accreditation
Accreditation, according to CAEP, is quality assurance through external peer review. To ensure that colleges and universities are adhering to agreed-upon standards for educating teachers, CAEP regularly reviews each program. Every department, school and college, sometimes functioning within a higher education institution, is reviewed individually. Larger universities might have multiple accreditations from both a regional accreditor and from multiple professional accreditors, like CAEP.
The U.S. Department of Education and CHEA maintain a List of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies. “CHEA is often referred to as an accreditor of accreditors,” as they conduct peer reviews to ensure accrediting agencies adhere to recognized quality and standards.
A Word to the Wise About “Diploma Mills”
Consumers must watch out for diploma mills, offering to sell degrees, diplomas or certificates. These documents may appear to be legitimate but, in fact, are fraudulent and worthless, awarded by organizations that operate without supervision.
Similarly, some “accrediting” agencies attempt to lend credibility to these institutions but are themselves fake. It is important to check out the accreditation of any agency by referring to the U.S. Department of Education’s list of recognized agencies.
There are two guiding principles behind the CAEP Standards: “solid evidence that the provider’s graduates are competent and caring educators; and solid evidence that the provider’s educator staff have the capacity to create a culture of evidence and use it to maintain and enhance the quality of the professional programs they offer.”
Developed by a diverse group of stakeholders, including providers, teachers, parents, critics and unions, these standards reflect what the education field believes makes a quality educator.
The five CAEP accrediting standards applied to every institution review are:
- Content and Pedagogical Knowledge: ensure candidates understand and use the critical concepts and principles of their discipline
- Clinical Partnerships and Practice: provide effective partnerships and high-quality clinical practice
- Candidate Quality, Recruitment, and Selectivity: demonstrate candidate quality is continuing and purposeful
- Program Impact: demonstrate program completers are impactful
- Provider Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement: provides valid data from multiple measures and supports continuous improvement
Why Accreditation Matters
Accreditation of teacher preparation programs by a recognized professional agency is important to students and their families, teachers, and education agencies. When a program is accredited, there is an understanding that not only will the teachers who receive the training be ready to teach effectively, but also that the program is rooted in continuous improvement. It is a seal of approval. When teacher preparation programs adhere to rigorous standards, the profession is elevated.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “If an institution is accredited by a recognized agency, its teachers, coursework, and facilities, equipment, and supplies are reviewed on a routine basis to ensure students receive a quality education and get what they pay for. Attending an accredited institution is often a requirement for employment and can be helpful later on if you want to transfer academic credits to another institution.”
Accredited Online Education Programs from Youngstown State University
Youngstown State University’s Beeghly College of Education’s educator preparation programs are accredited by CAEP. YSU offers the following online Master of Science in Education degree programs:
In addition, YSU offers the following education programs:
- Master of Science in Education – Educational Administration (With Principal Licensure Option)
- Teacher Leader Endorsement program.
- Master of Science in Education – Special Education – Intervention Specialist Mild/Moderate Disabilities
- Master of Science in Education – Special Education – Autism and Related Disabilities
- Master of Science in Education – Teacher Education – Curriculum and Instruction – Literacy
- Master of Science in Education – Teacher Education – Curriculum and Instruction – Digital Teaching and Learning
- Master of Science in Education – Teacher Education – Curriculum and Instruction – Mathematics
- Master of Science in Education – Teacher Education – Curriculum and Instruction – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics
- Teacher Leader Endorsement
Working educators can complete these programs in as few as twelve months, and the online format allows you the convenience of completing coursework from anywhere with an internet connection on your schedule.
Learn more about Youngstown State University’s online Specialized Education programs.