Thursday, October 30, 2014 Public › About NCATE › FAQ About NCATE AIMS Member Login
FAQ About NCATE

What is NCATE?

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) is a national accrediting body for schools, colleges, and departments of education authorized by the U.S. Department of Education. NCATE determines which schools, colleges, and departments of education meet rigorous national standards in preparing teachers and other school specialists for the classroom

Is NCATE a governmental agency?

No. NCATE is the professional quality control mechanism for teacher preparation. NCATE is a coalition of 35 national education organizations, which represents teachers, teacher educators, subject matter specialists, and policy makers.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is a process for assessing and enhancing academic and educational quality through voluntary peer review. Accreditation informs the public that the accredited college or university operates at a high level of educational quality and integrity. NCATE accreditation is the process by which a professional education unit is recognized by the profession as meeting national standards for the content and operation of the unit.

Why is professional accreditation important?

Professional accreditation of preparatory education programs is the bedrock upon which all professions (e.g., architecture, engineering, medicine, law) have built their reputations. It assures that those entering the respective field have been suitably prepared to practice through assimilation of a body of knowledge and pre-service practice in the profession. Accreditation of schools of education indicates that the school underwent rigorous external review by professionals, that performance of a teacher candidate in the program has been thoroughly assessed before he or she is recommended for licensure, and that programs meet standards set by the teaching profession at large.

What is a teacher education program?

The sequence of courses and experiences in general and professional studies required by a college/university for the preparation of professional education candidates to teach a specific subject or academic area, to provide professional education services (e.g., school psychology), or to administer schools. A program can be a major in education; it can also be a major, minor, or endorsement in an academic area with professional education requirements for licensing.

What is the teacher education unit?

The teacher education unit (sometimes referred to as the professional education unit) is the administrative body at a college.

Does NCATE accredit non-traditional programs?

NCATE's scope includes the ability to accredit high quality non-traditional and non-university providers. NCATE currently accredits Western Governors University, an online institution. Two non-university providers are currently in the pipeline and have applied for accreditation. About half of all current alternate route programs are housed within colleges and universities.

If accreditation is a peer review system, why are P–12 classroom teachers included in NCATE’s process for evaluating colleges and universities?

Classroom teachers in P–12 settings are the practitioners for the teaching profession and have a unique, first-hand perspective, hence their involvement is appropriate, customary, and necessary All specialized accrediting associations involve practitioners; engineers participate in the Engineering Accreditation Commission, architects participate in the National Architectural Accrediting Board, pharmacists participate in the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education.

For how long are teacher education institutions accredited?

Accreditation, once granted, is continuous as long as the institution fulfills its responsibilities under NCATE’s continuing accreditation process. Continuing accreditation status is granted after an institution has been accredited. Official NCATE policy is to have a visit every 7 years. However, a few states use a 5 year visit cycle based on previous NCATE policy.

What is the knowledge base?

The base of knowledge for effective teaching derived from empirical research, disciplined inquiry, informed theory, and the wisdom of practice.

How is NCATE financed?

NCATE is a non-profit (501C) organization funded through dues from its 35 member organizations, fees from NCATE-accredited institutions, and foundation grants.

How were the NCATE standards developed?

NCATE’s current standards were developed between 1998 and 2000 through a consensus of education leaders and reflect recent developments in teaching practices and advances in research. Minor revisions were made in 2006. These standards are the current Performance-based Accreditation Standards (Adobe PDF).

What is a nationally recognized program?

A nationally recognized program is an individual program such as elementary education or special education which has met the standards developed by the specialty professional association (SPA) in that discipline. Standards in 21 disciplinary areas are available and are on NCATE's website; click on Standards from the homepage; then on Program Standards. NCATE accredited institutions are expected to use these standards in the design and delivery of their programs.  In addition, if a program is approved by a state in which the state’s program review process has been approved by the relevant SPA, that program will be nationally recognized.

What is a state/NCATE partnership?

The State/NCATE partnership is an agreement between a state and NCATE to conduct joint state program approval and NCATE accreditation reviews. This process saves time, effort, and expense for the institutions and the states while promoting high national standards for teacher preparation.

See also: Frequently Asked Questions About State Partnerships.

What are the commonly used abbreviations within accreditation? 

Please consult the List of Acronyms commonly used by NCATE for information on other acronyms.


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