Institutional Structures

Educator preparation providers (EPPs) are organized in a variety of ways to carry out their missions and meet the needs of the populations they serve. They may offer programs at sites other than the main site, or they may offer programs to candidates all over the state, country, or world through distance learning. They may serve nontraditional candidates and candidates with bachelor’s degrees in an academic area in alternate route programs. The EPPs structure helps determine the scope of the NCATE review as described on the following pages. EPPs must disclose their institutional structures on the “Intent to Seek NCATE Accreditation” form.

Branch Campuses [1]

An institution with dependent [2] branch campuses within the same state may choose to seek accreditation as (1) a single multi-campus professional education unit or (2) separate education units if the appropriate state agency recognized the units as autonomous for program approval. In all instances the declaration of intent to apply as a single or as multiple education units must be made when the institution submits the Intent form two years before the on-site review.

If an institution and branch campuses are evaluated as a single professional education unit, the accreditation decision and any cited areas for improvement or unmet standards will apply to the entire unit, even if cited deficiencies are specific to a particular campus. If an institution and branch campuses are evaluated as separate units, separate accreditation decisions will be made for each campus. If a multiple-campus institution seeks separate accreditation for one of its campuses, it has no obligation to seek or retain accreditation for other campuses.

Off-Campus Programs

Institutions may offer programs at sites other than the main campus or branch campus [3]. Off-campus programs may be offered in the same state, in other states, or in countries other than the United States.

The NCATE staff, in consultation with the institution and appropriate state agencies, will determine the off-campus programs to be included in a unit’s accreditation review, using the following guidelines: 

  • Off-campus programs in the same state must be included in the unit’s review.

  • Off-campus programs offered at sites outside of the state or in another country may be included in the unit’s review if (1) the programs are limited in number and size, (2) the programs are located in close proximity to the parent campus, or (3) the program completers are eligible for state licensure in the state of the parent institution.

Alternate Route Programs

Alternate route programs [4] administered by the unit and leading to the unit’s recommendation for a state license must meet NCATE standards. If a campus is preparing education candidates through one or more alternate routes, the program(s) must be included in the NCATE review. Alternate route programs must respond to state and professional standards through a review by either the state or specialized professional associations as described in the State/NCATE protocol, which is available on NCATE’s website. Alternate route programs will be reviewed in the same manner as other programs. The BOE team will interview program administrators, P–12 partners, candidates in the program, and faculty. The BOE team will also expect to see assessment data, completion rates, and other performance data for candidates in alternate route programs as part of the unit’s exhibits. The BOE team may cite areas for improvement related to specific programs, including alternate route programs.

Distance Learning Programs

Distance learning programs offered by the unit must also meet NCATE standards at the same level of quality as programs offered through traditional means. If a campus offers distance learning programs in professional education, the BOE team will interview—in person or electronically—program administrator(s), candidates, and faculty. The BOE team also expects to see assessment data, completion rates, and other performance data for distance learning programs in the institution’s exhibits.

Status of Units and Programs Seeking Accreditation Separately from the Main Campus or as a New Institution

The professional education unit at an institution may seek NCATE accreditation (1) as a single unit jointly with one or more institutions in a university system or (2) separately as an autonomous unit. A unit that was previously included in another institution’s accreditation may seek accreditation as an autonomous unit when it is ready to do so. If an institution takes action to separate from an accredited institution, its accreditation may be extended for up to two years to prepare for its first autonomous accreditation visit, pending approval of the state partner, The unit at an institution seeking accreditation on its own will be required to submit an Intent to Seek Accreditation. It will be considered a precandidate for accreditation and must meet preconditions, establish candidacy, and host an onsite visit during this two-year period. The onsite visit will be considered a first accreditation visit. If accreditation is granted, the next visit will be held in five to seven years in accordance with the state/NCATE protocol.

When two NCATE-accredited institutions merge, the next NCATE visit will be scheduled to coincide with the institution whose accreditation cycle expires first, pending approval of the state partner.

If an NCATE-accredited institution assumes control of programs that were previously operated by another institution, the programs will be included in the institution’s next regular accreditation review, as if the institution had developed a new program, regardless of whether the institution previously operating the program was NCATE accredited.

If an NCATE-accredited institution assumes control of programs that were within a unit accredited by NCATE, but the institution had previously offered programs only at one level (initial or advanced) and the new program will expand its offerings to the other level, the situation is analogous to an accredited institution with a newly developed program at the other level. The next accreditation visit will be a combination visit: a continuing visit at the previously accredited level and a first visit at the level of the newly assumed program. If the institution that previously operated the program is also NCATE accredited, then, pending approval of the state partner, accreditation of the program may be extended for up to two years, until the time of the institution’s combination visit.

If a non-accredited institution assumes control of programs that were previously within a unit accredited by NCATE, accreditation for the programs can continue to be included in the accreditation of the accredited unit for up to two years, at the discretion of the accredited unit and pending approval of the state partner Therefore, if the institution that previously operated the program allows graduates of the newly transferred program to receive their diplomas from that institution, those individuals remain graduates of an NCATE-accredited program. The institution newly in control of the program is considered a precandidate for accreditation, must meet preconditions to establish candidacy, and must successfully host an on-site visit to achieve accreditation.

 

Current status of the institution

Change proposed by the institution

What happens (pending approval of state partner)

Repercussions for candidates

Accredited jointly with another institution within the same university system

Separation of one institution from the accreditation of another institution to pursue its own accreditation

Accreditation can be extended for up to two years. During this time, the institution will be a precandidate for accreditation and must meet preconditions, establish candidacy, and host an onsite visit. The onsite visit will be considered a first accreditation visit. If accreditation is granted, the next visit will be held in five years.

Candidates who graduate within the two-year time frame will be considered to have completed a program at an NCATE-accredited institution as part of the accreditation of the institution with which the institution was previously affiliated.

NCATE-accredited institution

Merger with another NCATE-accredited institution

The next NCATE visit will be scheduled to coincide with the institution whose accreditation cycle expires first.

 

N/A

NCATE-accredited institution

Assuming control of programs that were previously operated by another institution (regardless of whether the other institution is NCATE-accredited)

 

The programs will be included in the institution's next regular accreditation review, as if the institution had developed a new program.

 

N/A

NCATE-accredited at initial or advanced level only

Assuming control of programs at the other level (advanced or initial) that were previously operated by another institution

The next accreditation visit will be a combination visit: a continuing visit at the previously accredited level and a first visit at the level of the newly assumed program. If the institution that previously operated the program is also NCATE accredited, accreditation of the program may be extended for up to two years, until the time of the institution's combination visit.

 

If the institution that previously operated the program is NCATE-accredited: candidates who graduate from the program before the combination visit will graduate from an NCATE-accredited program.(as long as the combination visit takes place within two years)

If the institution that previously operated the program is not NCATE-accredited, candidates who graduate from the program before the combination visit will not graduate from an NCATE-accredited program, since the unit is accredited only at the other preparation level.

Not accredited by NCATE

Assuming control of programs previously operated by an NCATE-accredited institution

Accreditation for the programs can continue to be included in the accreditation of the accredited unit for up to two years, at the discretion of the accredited unit. The institution newly in control of the program is considered a precandidate for accreditation, must meet preconditions to establish candidacy, and must successfully host an on-site visit to achieve accreditation.

As long as the institution that previously operated the program allows graduates of the newly transferred program to receive their diplomas from that institution (or for two years, whichever comes first), those individuals remain graduates of an NCATE-accredited program.

If the institution's newly operating the program does not host a successful accreditation visit within two years, graduates of that institution will not graduate from an NCATE-accredited program.

Adopted March 2003

 

Footnotes:

1. A branch campus is a campus with full student and administrative services as well as a chief executive officer who may report to a system head.

2. A dependent branch campus is a campus that does not have its own separate regional accreditation.

3. An off-campus program is a program administered by the institution with instruction provided at sites other than the main campus (e.g., a program taught on a weekend and/or nights in another state or in a school in another city). NCATE defines program as “a planned sequence of courses and experiences for preparing P–12 teachers and other professional school personnel. These courses and experiences sometimes lead to a recommendation for a state license to work in schools.

4. NCATE defines alternate route programs as post-baccalaureate programs designed for individuals who did not prepare as educators during their undergraduate studies. These programs, which usually lead to a unit’s recommendation for a state license, accommodate the schedules of adults and recognize their earlier academic preparation and life experiences. In some instances, candidates may be employed as educators while enrolled. Examples include MAT programs, programs that operate in professional development schools, and Troops to Teachers programs. They are sometimes called non-traditional programs.


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