A nearly year-long process ended today with the announcement that Fort Hays State University's education programs have earned accreditation through March 31, 2010.
FHSU President Edward H. Hammond announced at a news conference in the Dreiling Lobby of Sheridan Hall that the Teacher Education and Licensure division of the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) has recommended "continuing accreditation."
"It is a great day for the College of Education and Technology," said Hammond. "It is a long, winding road through the accreditation process, and a tremendous amount of work goes into the task of documenting the excellence of our institution, our programs and our people, and we are proud of all of them.
"Our success as an institution and the success of the College of Education and Technology does not only depend on the successes of the students in the teaching profession, although that is the highest standard by which to judge. Institutional and program success also depends on meeting the standards of the overall profession, and proving that we continually meet and exceed those standards, and for all the hard work involved in that I want to honor Dean Mercer and the outstanding faculty and staff of the College of Education and Technology."
"What a wonderful day!" exclaimed Dr. Debbie Mercer, interim dean of the College of Education and Technology. "Truly an amazing amount of time, expertise and energy goes into such a process, and the college and the university have stepped forward with these resources.
"Fort Hays State University has 33 education programs leading to licensure in the state of Kansas. It has truly been a rewarding experience to work with the faculty, candidates, partner schools and university personnel that represent these programs in our accreditation efforts."
The recommendation from the KSDE is the final step in a process that begins with a five-day on-site visit and then a months-long review by NCATE (pronounced EN-kate), a body charged with helping to establish high quality teacher, specialist and administrator preparation in the teaching profession. It is a coalition of 33 member-organizations of teachers, teacher educators, content specialists and local and state policy makers, more than 3 million individuals overall.
The NCATE process culminates in a site visit by a team known as the Board of Examiners, which has representatives from NCATE and from the KSDE. That visit to FHSU came in February of this year. The report resulting from that visit was sent to boards within each organization for review and study, with the final step being the recommendation announced today by the KSDE and NCATE.
The evaluation of educational programs is in six categories, or "standards": candidate (student) knowledge, skills and dispositions; program assessment and unit evaluation; field experiences and clinical practice; diversity; faculty performance and development; and unit governance and resources.
Overall, more than 50 individual elements within the six categories undergo extensive documentation and review. Only two of those elements drew a "comment" as "areas for improvement." Both are under the diversity standard and basically indicate that FHSU needs more minority students and faculty members.
"Fort Hays has been continually accredited from the KSDE and NCATE since 1952," said Mercer. "We have a long history of preparing professionals to work in schools in western Kansas and throughout the state and nation. I am honored to be part of continuing this tradition and having the opportunity to work with such a dedicated group."