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FAQ About Standards

Do NCATE standards focus on candidate performance?

"At Alverno we had to demonstrate what we could do: we were videotaped for assessments and put together extensive portfolio assessments. I can present a list of things I can do that will tell you a lot about my abilities."
Trenette Fowler Alverno College ’96

As this quote demonstrates, NCATE standards now focus on candidate performance.

Standard 1: Candidate Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions expects that candidates preparing to be teachers or other school professionals know and can demonstrate the content, pedagogical, and professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn. Candidates should know the subject matter they plan to teach and have knowledge of instructional strategies to help all students learn. They are expected to be able to assess student learning and create meaningful learning experiences for all students. Candidates for other school personnel roles are expected to have the professional knowledge expected in their field and to be able to create positive environments that support student learning.

Standard 2: Assessment System and Unit Evaluation expects that the professional education unit has an assessment system that collects and analyzes data on applicant qualifications, and candidate and graduate performance. It is expected that the teacher preparation institution assesses a candidate’s competence before admission to a program, during the course of the preparation program, including assessment of field-based and clinical experiences, and before the completion of the program and/or recommendation for licensure. Multiple assessments should be used, and must include performance-based assessments.

Do NCATE standards require candidates to follow a particular course of study?

NCATE standards require that the institution offer a coherent program of studies that will prepare effective teachers. The school of education must articulate its philosophy and mission, and describe the type of teacher it would like to produce. Courses should not be “stand alone,” but integrated into a coherent program for the students. Teacher preparation units are expected to have a conceptual framework that establishes the shared vision for the unit’s efforts in preparing educators to work in P–12 schools. The framework provides direction for programs, courses, teaching, and candidate performance.

NCATE expects that the standards of specialized professional associations (e.g., National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) are used to develop the programs in each area, helping to ensure that candidates are well prepared in their content area and how to teach it. (For specific standards developed by professional associations, see Program Standards and Report Forms.) The conceptual framework provides the context for developing and assessing candidate proficiencies based on the professional, state, and institutional standards.

How does NCATE ensure that the education units it accredits incorporate the latest research and practice?

NCATE expects that the knowledge bases that support each professional education program rest on established and contemporary research, the wisdom of practice, and emerging education policies and practices. Proficiencies expected of candidates, and candidate assessments, are to be aligned with the standards of specialized professional associations. Thus, for example, at accredited institutions, NCATE expects that the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics standards are incorporated into the design and delivery of the math education program. The rubric for Standard 1: Candidate Knowledge Skills and Dispositions indicates that candidates “know the subject matter that they plan to teach as shown by their ability to explain important principles and concepts delineated in professional, state and institutional standards.”

In addition, Standard 5: Faculty Qualifications, Performance and Development, requires that faculty model best professional practices in scholarship, service and teaching. Higher education faculty are expected to be engaged in scholarship and to be involved in the world of practice by providing education-related services at the local, state or national levels. Faculty who supervise clinical experiences are expected to have contemporary professional experience in the areas they supervise.

How do the standards reflect emerging technologies that are changing teaching and learning in our schools?

Use of technology for instruction and assessment has been recognized as a vital component of teacher preparation in the standards. NCATE expects that the education unit’s conceptual framework include a commitment to preparing candidates who are able to use educational technology to help all students learn. The rubrics for Standard 1: Candidate Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions expect that candidates use technology in their practice and facilitate student learning through the integration of technology. Standard 3: Field Experiences and Clinical Practices expects that candidates have the opportunity in their field and clinical experiences to use technology to support teaching and learning. Standard 5: Faculty Qualifications, Performance and Development expects that faculty integrate technology into their teaching. Standard 6: Unit Governance and Resources expects the unit to have adequate information technology resources to support faculty and candidates.

NCATE has engaged in several technology projects (see FAQ About Standards) to enhance the use of technology in teaching and learning, so that institutions will have more opportunities in this area.

How much and what types of field experience are required of candidates in NCATE-accredited schools?

Standard 3: Field Experiences and Clinical Practice expects the professional education unit and school partners to design and implement field and clinical experiences so that candidates develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills and dispositions so that all students learn. Rubrics for this standard expect that “Clinical practice is sufficiently extensive and intensive for candidates to demonstrate competence in the professional roles for which they are preparing.” It is also expected that “All candidates participate in field experiences or clinical practice that include students with exceptionalities and students from diverse ethnic, racial, gender, and socioeconomic groups.”

Do graduate programs for licensed teachers also have to include field experiences?

Yes, Standard 3 expects that practicing teachers who are returning for a master’s degree engage in field experiences related to their coursework. These experiences may take place in their own classrooms or schools.

Which NCATE standards relate to the quality of the faculty?

Standard 5: Faculty Qualifications, Performance and Development expects that “faculty are qualified and model best professional practices in scholarship, service and teaching…” Professional education faculty should have earned doctorates or exceptional expertise in their area of assignment. Faculty who supervise clinical experiences are expected to have contemporary professional experiences in school settings in the areas they supervise. School-based faculty are expected to be licensed in the field they teach or supervise. Professional education faculty are expected to be engaged in scholarship and service. This standard also expects teacher education faculty collaborate with other institutional faculty and P–12 school faculty and other members of the professional community to improve teaching, learning and the preparation of educators. It is expected that the professional education unit systematically evaluates faculty performance, and provides professional development opportunities for faculty.

Does NCATE require all faculty to have an earned doctorate?

No, but the unit should be able to provide evidence that those faculty without a doctorate have exceptional expertise for their assignments in the unit. For example, they may be master teachers or be leading practitioners or researchers in their fields. BOE teams may be concerned if a large number of faculty do not have the doctorate, especially at the graduate level.

Which standards relate to diversity?

NCATE expects that a professional education unit’s conceptual framework include a commitment to preparing candidates to support leaning for all students.
Standard 4: Diversity expects that the unit designs, implements and evaluates curriculum and experiences for candidates to acquire and apply knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to help all students learn. It includes the expectation that candidates have the opportunity to interact with candidates, faculty, and P–12 students from diverse groups.

What are NCATE’s resource requirements for the education unit?

Standard 6: Unit Governance and Resources expects the unit to have the budget, personnel and facilities, including information technology resources to prepare candidates to meet professional, state and institutional standards. The rubrics expect that the budget allocations are at least proportional to other units on campus, that there are sufficient numbers of full-time faculty and support personnel to support programs, that faculty workloads allow faculty to be effectively engaged in teaching, scholarship, and service. It is also expected that facilities support the use of information technology by candidates and faculty, and that faculty and candidates have access to current and sufficient curricular and library resources and electronic information.

Does NCATE require digital portfolios?

No. The NCATE standards do not require the use of digital portfolios; however, they do make effective use of technology in instruction a central requirement for teacher preparation programs for both faculty and teacher candidates. NCATE Standard 6 requires that the teacher preparation unit provides adequate campus and school facilities to support candidates in meeting standards. NCATE Standard 1 requires teacher candidates to demonstrate that they are able to “facilitate student learning of the subject matter…through the integration of technology.” (One way to demonstrate this could be through artifacts in candidates’ teaching portfolios.) NCATE Standard 5 requires faculty to demonstrate that they are able to integrate diversity and technology throughout their teaching. Regarding the school of education’s facilitation of professional development, Standard 5 also mandates that “the unit provides opportunities for faculty to develop new knowledge and skills” in areas including technology.

Also, according to NCATE Standard 2, institutions are expected to use technology to maintain their assessment systems, though how complex an undertaking this is varies with how many programs are in the unit. Some institutions are moving toward electronic portfolios in which candidates can demonstrate their mastery of proficiencies. Also, more institutions are making some or all of their exhibits for the Board of Examiners (BOE) visit itself available electronically. This facilitates the work of the BOE team when they can begin viewing exhibits before the visit actually starts, and devote more of their time on campus observing classes, interviews, etc.


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