AACTE’s Evolving Relationship With Accreditation

As AACTE Board Chair, I am most appreciative of the diligent work the AACTE Board of Directors has conducted over the past few years to address the important issue of national accreditation for educator preparation. From the liaison work and member conversations led by the Board’s special subcommittee and AACTE leaders starting in 2015 to our most recent Board meeting on January 18, 2018, we have dedicated much attention to this important topic. AACTE published a statement today about this month’s Board vote reaffirming our support for national professional accreditation.

National accreditation assures the public of the highest quality preparation of educators who serve all levels of the PK-20 continuum. A unified national accreditation system brings together partners and stakeholders across the entire education profession to support profession-wide standards of excellence. I use the term “system” to convey an assemblage of related stakeholders forming an interconnecting network around a set of standards, principles, practices, and processes as a unitary whole. In our recent vote, the AACTE Board reaffirmed the importance of a unified national professional accreditation system that aligns with AACTE’s “Principles for National Accreditation in Educator Preparation,” which we approved in 2016, as critical to advancing our profession.

In fact, AACTE’s work to move educator preparation toward a unified national accreditation system began more than 10 years ago. AACTE supported the merger of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) to form the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP continues to provide an opportunity for open comment to standards revisions. Through a whole-systems approach, rigorous, research-based standards and outcomes resulted from strong collaborations with education stakeholders including colleges of education, teacher unions, nationally board-certified teachers, chief state school officers, state boards of education, parents, and many others.

National accreditation in educator preparation serves the public’s interest and the learning of all students. AACTE continues to resolve that all providers of services to prepare education professionals be nationally accredited and all accreditors be nationally recognized. AACTE’s “Principles for National Accreditation in Educator Preparation” highlight four key principles:

  1. Accreditation improves the quality of education.
  2. Accreditation is grounded in evidence of effectiveness and graduate quality.
  3. Accreditation reflects consensus on best practices.
  4. The accreditation process is transparent and in service to the profession and the public.

As the education landscape becomes progressively more complex, AACTE stands unwavering on its commitment to high-quality educator preparation. The AACTE Board approached the recent vote not from what would be in the best interest of one institution, state, or stakeholder group, but rather from what is in the best interest of advancing the education profession in general, and educator preparation programs in particular. The AACTE Board strongly believes institutions must operate on the basis of sound professional standards, principles, and processes for not just where we are today, but where we aspire to be tomorrow.

In the end, the importance of a unified system of accreditation cannot be overstated. We must hold ourselves accountable to the public. We must meet the changing needs of today’s schools. We must accommodate an increasingly diverse community of learners. But we must do so with one voice. By working together we can advance our profession for the good of humanity. Let’s continue to go out and do great things!

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Renée A. Middleton

Ohio University