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College earns NCATE accreditation

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) has extended professional accreditation to the UTC College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies. Since 1973, the college has enjoyed national accreditation, and in the most recent review it met every standard, according to Dr. Mary Tanner, dean.

Tanner said students who become certified teachers benefit directly from the national accreditation.

“The real advantage for our students is that they enjoy reciprocity to other states with their certification,” said Tanner. “Our students are more successful in going on to graduate school, so it’s very important for us to maintain that accreditation and we did this year.”

Reciprocity is especially important for educators in our region, Tanner said, considering the proximity to the Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina borders.

“We are regularly visited by school systems looking for good teachers from not only around the Southeast, but as far north as Detroit and Pennsylvania,” said Tanner. “It is very flattering for us because many of our students are recruited by school districts around the country.”

School systems interested in hiring teachers look carefully at how the University builds a program to inspire effective teachers, and then how the program continues to monitor the development of those teachers.

“Another very important component of teacher education is the role of clinical placements or field experiences,” said Tanner. “We continue to authenticate relationships with schools so that our students and our professors have a place to use in the training process.”

The UTC teacher preparation program uses a professional development school model, where education majors spend an entire semester of their junior year involved in the student teaching experience. Tanner says there is evidence to suggest that this immersion in the classroom is a catalyst for early success.

“Because we use urban schools for these placements, especially the early ones, our students are comfortable in urban settings, aspire to work in urban schools, and they feel as though they can make a difference in urban schools,” Tanner said.

In the last six months, the University’s work in schools has had a positive result. Based on the University’s involvement, innovation, and support for school reform, the Carnegie Corporation of New York has invited UTC to affiliate with Teachers for a New Era (TNE), a national learning network of 30 colleges and universities across the country. UTC is one of only two campuses in Tennessee to receive the designation; the other is Vanderbilt University. Dr. Valerie Rutledge, head of the Teacher Preparation Academy, wrote the grant that resulted in UTC’s inclusion in the Carnegie funded initiative.

“We submitted a proposal to review our undergraduate math and science majors and those people who are pursuing degrees in those areas, and then find a way to collaborate with departments in arts and sciences so that those students could move smoothly into an accelerated teaching program,” Rutledge said. “Carnegie funding has allowed us to begin to develop the initiative this summer.”

Rutledge says math and science majors in their senior year who have not decided on a career path could ultimately pursue a course of study outlined by the Teacher Preparation Academy, and with one additional year of college they would be prepared to be a fully licensed teacher.

For more information about accreditation, TNE, and the new program under development in the Teacher Preparation Academy, please contact Valerie Rutledge.

The University will undergo its next NCATE accreditation review in 2012.

July 7, 2006

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