DATE: March 15, 2002
MEMO TO: Montana Board of Regents
FROM: Stephen T. Hulbert
SUBJECT: Campus Report for March 2002 Board of Regents’ Meeting
Western has completed preparation of its NCATE Institutional Report for Continuing Accreditation. NCATE is the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the major accrediting body for teacher education programs in the United States. The Institutional Report was prepared in preparation for a visit by an NCATE examining team on April 6-10, 2002. This visit is part of the University’s regular accreditation cycle of review of its teacher education programs. The NCATE team will be accompanied by an examination team representing Montana’s Office of Public Instruction, which is charged with the responsibility of assuring that state standards are met in each area of endorsement that the University offers to its teacher education students.
NCATE will be examining Western’s teacher education programs against tough new standards adopted two years ago. Among other things, these new standards place increased emphasis on graduates being able to use appropriate technology in their teaching. The addition of the new Rural Education Technology Center, its staff and its programs has been important to the University in this respect.
NCATE is a coalition of 33 specialty professional associations of teachers, teacher educators, content specialists and local and state educational policy makers. NCATE is the profession’s mechanism to help establish high quality teacher preparation. Through the process of professional accreditation of schools, colleges and departments of education, NCATE works to make a difference in the quality of teaching and teacher preparation.
At its April 1997 meeting, the NCATE Accreditation Board granted Western initial accreditation of its teacher education programs. Western’s 1996 Institutional Report was selected as a model for teacher education programs by the Board of Examiners, and only two minor standards were recommended for improvements. As a result of these identified weaknesses, work began on creating a more diverse spectrum of assessment strategies, which are both taught and utilized in Western’s teacher preparation programs. A more rigorous admissions policy using portfolios was devised; increased development of diversity, exceptionality, and multicultural experiences for candidates was initiated; and the continued development of student teaching requirements and assessments were also pursued.
Since the 1986 visit, Western’s Education Department has experienced a number of new faculty hires, a change in leadership and a change in organizational structure. These changes have enhanced the University’s already high quality teacher education programs. While initially there was concern with the large number of new education faculty as the institution headed into this accreditation visit, these new faculty members have made a very real contribution to program quality in support of the work of senior faculty.
As part of the reorganization of Western, Linda Reiten, Associate Professor of Education, has been named as the new chair of the Education Department within the School of Education, Business and Technology. Dr. Reiten has experience in this role at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota.
The Institutional Report for Continuing Accreditation results from the considerable efforts of faculty and staff across the University. The Report clearly delineates the philosophical underpinnings of Western’s teacher education programs while describing in detail how those programs are put together and assessed for effectiveness. Dean Cheri Jimeno, Sally Munday, Administrative Assistant for Accreditation, and the Education faculty have completed a challenging task of organizing the writing of the report and in the preparation of exhibits for the April visit.
After its visit, the Review Team will make a report to the NCATE Examining Board, which will make the final decision regarding Western’s continuing accreditation status. Word from the Examining Board is expected in June 2002.