There was a party of sorts at Liberty University’s School of Education on Tuesday, as news circulated that the school was one step closer to receiving full accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
“NCATE is the gold standard of teacher education,” said Dr. Karen Parker, dean of the School of Education.
NCATE is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as a professional accrediting body for teacher preparation. NCATE determines which schools, colleges and departments of education meet rigorous national standards in preparing teachers and other school specialists.
“The fact that we have [the accreditation] puts us in an elite group. In the state of Virginia, about half of the institutions that prepare teachers have the NCATE accreditation,” Parker said. “Many of our candidates do indicate that is one of the reasons they chose Liberty.”
Currently 7,500 students are taking courses in the School of Education. Liberty is one of the first, few online/blended programs to be accredited by NCATE.
“We attribute the NCATE recognition as a major factor in the growth of our online program,” Parker said. “This has been very valuable to us for our candidates who are out of state, especially. Every time I sign the form for a candidate who is getting licensed in another state, it asks if we’re NCATE accredited.”
Liberty’s School of Education was initially accredited by NCATE in 2003 and received “Accreditation with Conditions” status five years later. An assessment team arrived on campus Monday for a focus visit to determine whether the school should be recommended for full accreditation. At the exit interview Tuesday morning, Parker, joined by School of Education staff members, as well as Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Vice Chancellor Ron Godwin, received the news she had hoped for. The assessment team even commended Liberty’s program, saying they hope to use it as a model for others in the state.
“This is the very best it could have been — the most positive evaluation,” Parker said.
Liberty’s School of Education now awaits full accreditation when NCATE’s accreditation board meets in October.
When Parker returned to her desk Tuesday, she was greeted by faculty and staff crammed into the SOE office and students filling the hallways waiting to congratulate her.
But Parker was not quick to take all the credit.
“The faculty and staff have put in extra time; we have had extra faculty meetings; they have worked in extra committees — they have all worked so very hard,” she said. “This is a team effort; it could not have been done by one person.”