NCATE accreditation responds to the public's expectation that colleges of education produce teachers and other school specialists who meet rigorous standards, and who can help students learn. In a public opinion poll conducted by Penn and Schoen, 82 percent of the public favors requiring teachers to graduate from nationally accredited professional schools.
To achieve accreditation under NCATE’s standards, universities and colleges must offer intellectually rigorous programs which are relevant to the needs of today’s classrooms. NCATE wants to know "what do candidates know and what are they able to do?"
Why is Professional Accreditation Important?
The intricacies of teaching a child to read, to solve math problems, and to understand scientific concepts, should not be a trial and error proposition. And it does not have to be.
Professional accreditation has played a critical role in the standard of living that we enjoy in America today. Much that we take for granted—from the bridges we cross to the highways we use to the health care we receive—are the result of efforts of professionals in various fields who produce and live by high standards. Accreditation standards are the bedrock upon which the established professions have built their reputation and garnered the esteem of American society.
NCATE Accreditation: What it Means to the Public:
the educator preparation provider has undergone rigorous external review by professionals in the field;
candidate performance is thoroughly assessed throughout the program and before he or she is recommended for licensure;
the programs meet standards set by the teaching field at large, including classroom teachers.
The New Professional Teacher Graduating from an NCATE-Accredited Institution:
is able to handle the demands of a classroom on day one—not through on-the-job training;
knows the subject matter and a variety of ways to teach it to ensure student learning;
can manage classrooms with students from widely diverse backgrounds;
has a broad liberal arts education;
is able to explain why he or she uses a particular teaching strategy based on research and best practice;
reflects on practice and changes what does not work;
is able to apply effective methods of teaching students of different backgrounds;
has had a number of diverse clinical experiences in P–12 schools and studies under a wide variety of master teachers during a coherent program of clinical education;
nurtures the growth and development of each student in his or her classes.
What Does NCATE Accreditation Mean for Teacher Candidates?
Teacher candidates from NCATE-accredited institutions will be better prepared for new, more demanding initial licensing expectations in many states, and for board certification through the new National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. NCATE is working with the Council of Chief State School Officers and NBPTS to ensure that accreditation, licensing, and certification standards are compatible.
Many states have reciprocity agreements based on graduation from NCATE-accredited schools, so that graduates from NCATE-accredited institutions will generally find it easier to apply for licensure when they move out of state.
What Evidence is There That NCATE Makes a Difference?
NCATE is a performance-based accreditation system which requires accredited institution to provide evidence that their candidates have the knowledge and skill to work effectively with students in the classroom. (See: Teacher and Administrator Graduates on NCATE Accreditation (Adobe PDF)). Institutions that have completed the accreditation process report that the self-study for NCATE review helped them improve their programs. The same process has worked successfully for many years in medicine, law, engineering, architecture, psychology, social work, and other professions.
State data tracking systems under development will eventually provide information on which preparation programs produce the most effective teachers.