College of Education Program Awarded Nationally Recognized Accreditation
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An option in the Childhood and Early Adolescent Education (CEAED) program in Penn State’s College of Education recently received high marks from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the primary accreditation agency for teacher certification. The pre-kindergarten through fourth grade (PK-4) option passed the comprehensive evaluation with NCATE’s highest rating, nationally recognized with no conditions. This means the program was accepted without any further actions required.
Stephanie Knight, associate dean for undergraduate and graduate studies, said the accreditation process is extremely rigorous, but tremendously important.
“The process looks at all aspects of the programs that provide teacher certification and looks for evidence that the teachers and administrators who are coming out of the program are high quality,” said Knight. “Receiving this accreditation allows graduates of our programs to easily transfer their credentials to other states as teachers or administrators because it is based on a set of standards that are common to the profession.”
The accreditation process brings a team of peers from other institutions onsite to review evidence and interview faculty members and students. They then make recommendations about areas of weakness in the program.
Knight added that the rating the College received means that the CEAED program excelled in all of the standards that are set by National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Carla Zembal-Saul, department head for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, said she could not be more pleased to learn that the CEAED program has earned "Nationally Recognized Program" status.
“Teacher education at Penn State is alive and well,” said Zembal-Saul. “Our programs are stronger than ever, and we are implementing new innovations to support future teachers who have the strong foundation to be able to continue to learn from practice throughout their careers. We believe that every child deserves an excellent teacher and that the preparation of teachers in our program advances this commitment.”
Zembal-Saul added that education majors have the opportunity to work closely with faculty to pursue specializations that enhance their preparation and marketability, such as the English as a second language certificate and/or the special education minor.
“I think that this achievement speaks to the outstanding quality of our faculty and to their commitment to preparing the next generation of excellent PK-4 teachers that we were able to make the most of such a demanding review,” said Zembal-Saul. “This time, the review was especially challenging because we were in the midst of transitioning from our previous Elementary Education (K-6) program to the new state certification band of Pre-K, which has an early childhood focus.”
Stephanie Serriere, the director of the CEAED program, said that the accreditation recognition speaks loudly about the quality of the College’s faculty members.
“It represents the professionalism of our faculty and their ability to go above and beyond what is generally required,” said Serriere. “It also shows confirming evidence of the quality of our research-based teaching methods, the nature of the coursework and diverse high-quality field experiences.”
Serriere noted that the PK-4 program is offered at the following Penn State campuses which also hold the accreditation: Abington, Altoona, Berks, Lehigh Valley and Behrend.
“This is another indication of how we produce high-quality teachers within the state and across the nation,” said Serriere.
While the process required participation from many members of the faculty and staff, Zembal-Saul and Knight both pointed to Serriere and CEAED’s prior director, Gwen Lloyd, professor in the College of Education, as deserving special recognition for their leadership roles in the process.
“Its people like Stephanie and those before her who provided leadership that make our program so outstanding,” said Knight. “It isn’t just the group that is there now, but those that went before and have provided a pathway to excellence that this recognizes.”
--by Kevin Sliman (September 2014)