Responsible experimentation and innovation are essential to the improvement of professional education. A deliberate attempt has been made in the NCATE standards to encourage diversity, imagination, and innovation in institutional planning. New programs and structures to prepare professional educators to meet pressing social needs are encouraged. Of course, a unit must assume responsibility for the quality of each of its programs. NCATE recognizes that units and programs undergo regular change. Changes are necessary and expected as the teaching profession evolves. Units should not suspend change because an NCATE visit is scheduled. In fact, the current standards require serious self-study that should lead to changes for improving the preparation of school personnel.
However, an institution may decide that specific standards do not provide the best vehicle for assessing a unit that is experimenting and/or undergoing extensive changes. In these cases, the unit may include the rationale for experimentation and explain any deviation from the NCATE standards in its institutional report. The unit is expected to document its systematic efforts to evaluate the graduates of these programs.
If certain indicators are perceived as barriers to innovation, the institution should not feel constrained by those indicators. It is possible for a unit to be judged to meet a standard without addressing each indicator.