FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NCATE Renews Kean University's College of Education Accreditation
UNION, N.J. –The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), announced on October 25, that it has approved the re-accreditation of Kean University’s College of Education. As a coalition of more than 30 organizations representing teachers, teacher educators, policymakers, and the public, NCATE is the professional accrediting organization of record for schools, colleges, and departments of education in the United States. “Kean’s high standards for teacher education made it one of the first institutions to gain NCATE accreditation in 1954,” said Dr. Ana Maria Schuhmann, dean of the College of Education. “Since we have earned this renewal, we will not need to be reviewed for another seven years.”
Though the College of Education spent approximately two years formally preparing for the most recent evaluation, Schuhmann said that meeting NCATE standards is an ongoing process that involves College of Education faculty, administrators and students as well deans of other colleges and representatives of departments, such as English, science and math, that participate in the training of teachers. Kean’s partnering school districts also participated in the accreditation process. “If we are to prepare the most qualified teachers in this state, we must continually review our curriculum and ensure that we are maintaining the highest standards,” said Schuhmann. “We are assessing our undergraduate and graduate students, as well as our programs every step of the way. One wonderful thing about the professionals at Kean University is that they are truly dedicated to educational excellence and are often their own harshest critics. I am sure that our exacting approach is the reason that NCATE gave us accreditation with ‘no areas for improvement,’ which is the highest rating they assign.”
Preparation for the NCATE evaluation included conducting self-studies of the more than 20 programs offered in the college and submitting reports to NCATE’s national councils in each subject area for approval. “Our programs received national recognition from the councils in addition to the overarching NCATE accreditation,” said Schuhmann. “I see that as a remarkable and honorable achievement.” The most significant effort had to go into the College of Education’s institutional report, which provided detailed data on everything ranging from the diversity of the student body to faculty credentials and the ways degree candidates gain knowledge. That report was evaluated during the final step in the NCATE accreditation process, during which the organization’s Board of Examiners team (BOE) made a site visit in March. The team consisted of six NCATE and two New Jersey state representatives, and during their five-day on-site evaluation, they reviewed the institutional report, and interviewed numerous representatives from the College of Education, the Teaching Performance Center, several faculty committees, as well as deans, professors from the arts and sciences, student teachers and graduate students. In addition, the team spoke with individuals not employed by the University, but who have been involved with its programs in some way, such as teachers and administrators from cooperating school districts and alumni of Kean’s education programs. A highlight of the assessment visit was a poster session which represented 30 different College of Education programs.
According to Schuhmann, Kean’s efforts were commended by the BOE team. “During our exit interview, the team told me that they were highly impressed with the College of Education and the University,” said Schuhmann. “Among our many strengths, they listed the diversity of the faculty, students and curriculum, and said we have a comprehensive assessment system, a dedicated faculty, and that we provide excellent field experiences for our students. The team also discovered that, when our graduates become teachers, they are so well versed in the most recent technology that they become the models for their schools and are able to use their knowledge to train other teachers. Most important, they cited the commitment of the entire institution to teacher education and said that College of Education, K-12 schools, faculty, adjuncts and students worked together as a true learning community.” She added that none of Kean’s honors from NCATE could have occurred without the full participation of so many at the University. “We had an incredible team, which was led by Dr. Mary Jo Santo Pietro (communication disorders and deafness professor) and Angela Caruso (assessment coordinator),” Schuhmann said. “The entire institution was involved. I think everyone understood the significance of our mission. Although the process is immensely time-consuming, it ensures our ability to provide the best possible education to teachers. And having better teachers means better K-12 student learning in our state.”