April 03, 2012

Teaching programs earn national recognition

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Three College of Education and Human Services teaching programs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale recently earned national recognition and the faculty report about one of the programs is cited as a model for other programs.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) awarded “National Recognition,” the highest honor possible, to the early childhood, English/language arts, and social studies/history teacher education programs.  It’s an honor that is becoming more and more difficult to attain, University officials said. 

“National recognition of these programs not only illustrates the strength of these exemplary programs but also exemplifies the excellence of our teacher education program as a whole and is another example of the strength of our faculty and students,” D. John McIntyre, professor of curriculum and instruction and the University’s NCATE coordinator, said.

“NCATE is saying the programs are nationally recognized as being some of the very best in the country and the students coming out of our programs are higher quality than the norm.  Our students perform at a high level and are effective when teaching in schools,” he added. “It is always good news when our programs rise to the top.  This recognition signifies that our programs address and meet all standards and more importantly, we are collecting data about our students to make program adjustments as needed. “

McIntyre said faculty and staff prepared very extensive and detailed reports about the University’s teaching programs for review by NCATE.  The reports included program descriptions and data about the curriculum, faculty and students.  The evaluations take into account a variety of factors such as the available classes and their coursework, cultural diversity, student teaching evaluations, and the completeness of program evaluations and use of the evaluations to make program adjustments.

“Our faculty and staff have devoted much time and energy to the NCATE review process.  Their concern for the excellence of our programs is evident in their diligent efforts and commitment to the vision of the college,” said John J. Benshoff, interim dean of the College of Education and Human Services.

The University’s 24 teaching programs have a total enrollment of about 1,200 students. The curriculum prepares them to be teachers at the primary, middle school or high school levels.  The NCATE recognition reports offer numerous commendations for each of the recognized programs and also praise faculty, staff and administrators for using student assessment results to make continuing program improvements.

“All of our programs have received some level of national recognition although some must provide additional information to clarify items before being granted full recognition,” McIntyre said. 

Program coordinators for the three programs earning National Recognition are:  Christina Voss, lecturer for English/language arts; Cathy Mogharreban for early childhood; and Grant Miller, assistant professor in curriculum and instruction for social studies/history.  Reviewers for all three programs noted that students graduating from the programs had a pass rate of more than 80 percent on state licensure exams. 

On behalf of NCATE, representatives of the National Council for the Social Studies reviewed the social studies program preparing University students to teach grades 7-12.  They reported that in every category, the SIU Carbondale program met all requirements in providing students with the education to enable them to in turn educate younger students about the various aspects of social studies including geography, social studies, psychology, economics, political science, civics, anthropology and more.  Reviewers commended the University for offering numerous courses for students to choose from within their major. 

The English/language arts review was by representatives of the National Council of Teachers of English and it covered the University’s K-12 teacher’s program.  The program likewise met NCATE standards and requirements and reviewers noted a number of strengths including “an extensive series of thoughtfully designed pre-practicum experiences” along with assessments aligned with NCTE standards and extensive student assessment data collection.

Representatives of the National Association for the Education of Young Children reviewed the undergraduate early childhood education certification program providing instruction for teachers of children ages newborn to third grade.  This program also met all requirements and reviewers praised the program assessments as well-conceived and providing meaningful data for faculty and said “the field-based early childhood-specific assessments provide evidence of opportunities for candidate learning as well as for evaluation of candidate performance.”

That’s not all of the good news though.  The National Council of Teachers of English selected the program report Voss authored as an exemplary research report and posted it on its website (http://www.ncte.org/) as a resource for other institutions to emulate, McIntyre said.

“This is quite an honor for Dr. Voss and for the University,” McIntyre said. 

The University has held NCATE accreditation since 1954.  The NCATE accreditation runs for five-seven years.