On-site visit by accreditation team gives high marks to FHSU teacher education programs

Preliminary reports from an on-site visit by a joint accreditation team indicate that Fort Hays State University's teacher education programs have "passed all six standards with flying colors," said Dr. Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education and Technology.

The preliminary findings will now be put into a formal Board of Examiners report, which should be received by the university within 30 days. The university then has 30 days to make edits or corrections before the report is submitted to the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE, pronounced EN-kate) and the Kansas Department of Education, which are the bodies that conducted the on-site visit from March 7 to 10. They will issue their final evaluation and grant of accreditation in the fall.

"This is a continued seal of quality for our teacher education programs," said Mercer, who also noted that FHSU has more teacher preparation programs, 39, than any other institution in the state. "This is a mark of confidence in us and the education we provide."

The on-site visit, she said, involved "intensive interviews with a variety of people on and off campus" and involved many visits well beyond the FHSU campus.

"The support from superintendents, principals and classroom teachers was phenomenal," she said.

Mercer was especially pleased that FHSU earned five "target" ratings -- the highest of the three ratings -- on three separate standards, including one that earned target for all three of its subcategories, called elements.

"I have never heard of this at another institution," she said.

The six standards are Candidate Knowledge, Skills and Professional Disposition; Assessment System and Unit Evaluation; Field Experiences and Clinical Practice; Diversity; Faculty Qualifications, Performance and Development; and Unit Governance and Resources.

A target rating was given to all three elements of Standard 2, assessment and evaluation, which covers how the teacher education programs collect and analyze data to improve qualifications, performance and operations of applicants, teacher candidates, graduates, the educational units and their programs.

FHSU also received target ratings for the Qualified Faculty element of Standard 5 (Faculty Qualifications, Performance and Development) and for the Unit Resources including Technology element of Standard 6 (Unit Governance and Resources).

In all, the six standards have a total of 28 elements that are assessed. The only element on which FHSU received a rating indicating concern was on the diversity element of graduate faculty. All other elements besides the five receiving the target rating were deemed acceptable.

"To the people who served on committees, taught our candidates, wrote grants, edited reports, cleaned our facilities, engaged in service-learning, contributed time and expertise from across the university -- you have my deepest appreciation for truly impacting education in the state of Kansas," she said.

The accreditation period, which will begin in the fall when NCATE and the Department of Education issue their final evaluation, covers seven years.

The College of Education and Technology is on the Web at www.fhsu.edu/coe/.

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