The Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut has been reaccredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The Neag School received national recognition in October for its commitment to producing quality educators for the nation’s children by continuously improving its diverse clinical and field experiences for students in its educator preparation programs. The accreditation is good for five years and is a joint accreditation with the Connecticut State Department of Education.
“I am extremely pleased with the results of our NCATE report,” says Richard L. Schwab, dean of the Neag School of Education. “In all cases, we have met or exceeded the rigorous standards set by NCATE. This report is a testament to the dedication and scholarship of our faculty and staff over the past few years in preparing the next generation of highly effective P-12 teachers and other school specialists, and strengthening student learning.”
The NCATE’s site examiners focused on a conceptual framework, establishing the shared vision for a unit’s efforts in preparing educators to work in P-12 schools. According to NCATE’s website, the accreditation standards focus on six strategic areas: candidate knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions; assessment system and unit evaluation; field experiences and clinical practice; diversity; faculty qualifications, performance, and development; and unit governance and resources.
“A clinical-based educator preparation program enables us to know that our children’s teachers enter the classroom ready to stimulate their interest in learning.”
– Yuhang Rong, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
“Teacher quality is the most important factor in P-12 student achievement,” says Yuhang Rong, assistant vice provost for global affairs at UConn and a commissioner of the Accreditation Council at the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). “Research indicates that a key element for successful learning is the opportunity to apply what is being learned and refine it. Carefully constructed clinical and field experiences can enable students in educator preparation programs to reinforce, apply, and synthesize concepts that they are learning in coursework.
“A clinical-based educator preparation program enables us to know that our children’s teachers enter the classroom ready to stimulate their interest in learning,” adds Rong.
CAEP, which is the new accrediting body for educator preparation, was formed through the consolidation of NCATE and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TAEC). CAEP advances excellence in educator preparation through evidence-based accreditation that assures quality and supports continuous improvement to strengthen P-12 student learning.
“CAEP-accredited schools stand on a strong foundation and rich history of accreditation in teacher and educator preparation,” says Christopher A. Koch, interim president of CAEP. “CAEP seeks to increase the value of accreditation and to increase participation, building on the decades of institutional knowledge of education’s previous accreditors.”
In the 2013-2014 school year, 164 out of 166 school districts in Connecticut employed a total of 3,100 Neag School graduates as educators. A Neag School internal study indicates a majority of its teacher preparation graduates (73 percent) stay in the classroom for 10 years or more and in far greater numbers than their colleagues nationwide (50 percent).
Desi Nesmith, who was recently selected as chief school turnaround officer for the state Department of Education, completed his elementary teacher preparation and administrator preparation programs at the Neag School. Nesmith was recognized as a Milken Family Foundation Educator in 2014 while serving as principal of Metacomet Elementary School in Bloomfield, Conn.
“Teacher candidates must have in-depth knowledge of the subject matter that they plan to teach, as well as the skills necessary to convey it so that students learn,” Nesmith says. “As a graduate from two programs at the Neag School of Education, I know it has a dedicated faculty who carefully assess knowledge and skill of its candidates. The Neag School partners with Connecticut P-12 schools to design and implement the clinically based preparation, which has enabled me to develop the skills necessary to help students learn.
“I can tell you from my own experience that the graduates of the Neag School are prepared to understand and work with diverse student populations,” says Nesmith.