Continuous Improvement is the Journey
January 22, 2020
There is a high level of expectation that educators prepared and graduated from LSU are the State and Nation’s future educational leaders in the classrooms. There is an expectation that all students will be successful in their careers. The accreditation process by multiple organizations provides an overall high standard so that all aspects of the preparation programs are examined. Educator accreditation is a seal of approval that assures quality in all preparation programs with consistency (CAEP). Accreditation assures that educator programs prepare new teachers to understand the discipline of education, understand student learning, and have the clinical training that allows them to enter the classroom ready to teach effectively.
Accreditation assures that educator programs prepare new teachers to understand the discipline of education, understand student learning, and have the clinical training that allows them to enter the classroom ready to teach effectively.
Louisiana State University, as a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC), is reviewed periodically for its academic success as a university. Within this campus-wide review, is an opportunity to annually evaluate the School of Education’s degrees, mission, student learning outcomes, assessment data, and report on each program’s impact. This activity matters because the greater University’s accreditation is impacted. Furthermore, the accreditation process assures the University’s students that all their degree programs are meeting the highest standards within the Southern region. In addition, the review ensures that faculty hired at the University meet the highest standards of education expected of a Research I University. The review matters because our standards for faculty must be high in order for students to have the best faculty available for their education.
The LSU Teacher Education Council is the central organizing unit responsible for oversight for all University degree programs associated with educator preparation and accreditation. This representative body regularly reviews programs and analyzes policy matters associated with university preparation degree programs in our five colleges. In addition, they provide recommendations for educational policies developed and promulgated by the Louisiana State Department of Education through the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Colleges and Schools
Louisiana State University’s educational preparation programs which are currently located in 5 colleges, 7 schools, and 10 departments across campus are known nationally for meeting professional standards since 1954. As a top 100 school of education (out of 1,238) in the United States, the expectations and standards are high for the curriculum, faculty, and students. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is the largest and leading professional organization administering these standards. CAEP is recognized nationally as the gold standard of excellence with five major standards with 23 components. These standards matter because LSU desires to have its graduates of the 26 educational preparation programs be among be the best in the nation. There is an expectation that future graduates will be teacher leaders in our nation’s schools. The national recognition matters because we want our graduates also to be licensed and recognized in 40 other states that have chosen CAEP accreditation, and as a part of the reciprocity agreement that exists between the states.
The Louisiana State Board of Regents approved and mandated CAEP accreditation requirements. This mandate unifies the state’s 20 colleges and universities’ educator preparation programs. LSU’s School of Education currently is being reviewed this Spring 2020 semester. The School, along with our partners across campus have been busy the past few years analyzing data, preparing reports, and working with our clinical partners in various parish school systems throughout the capital region and state to ensure a successful review.
Louisiana State University’s educational preparation programs which are currently located in 5 colleges, 7 schools, and 10 departments across campus are known nationally for meeting professional standards since 1954.
CAEP is not the only reviewer of our professional preparation programs. The Louisiana State Department of Education no longer recognizes the national CAEP accreditation process as sufficient for determining recognition. Instead, they selected outside contractors to examine professional practices. Still in the development phase, the contractor not only reviews the traditional state college and university programs, but also, the private provider alternate certification programs. LSU must participate in this mandated review Spring 2020. It matters because the graduates of our programs must be approved by the Louisiana State Department of Education for the professional license.
In addition to the review for overall accreditation by the above groups dedicated to the education professional, there are expert associations examining individual discipline areas. These groups, called Specialized Program Associations (SPA) examine programs in English, library science, mathematics, music, psychology, science, social studies, etc. The SPA reviews administered by discipline experts within a specialized field of study provide valuable recommendations for each program area. This review matters because at the heart of all teaching and preparation is the requirement that a properly educated professional is, first, an expert in the discipline.
But wait, there’s more
Professional review for LSU’s educational preparation programs do not end with these aforementioned reviewers. Other national groups, not mandatory to accreditation, seek to review documents, process, and curriculum. LSU does provide these groups with information that is publicly accessible. As a result, the School’s programs are graded. Questionable methodologies for evaluation purposes, along with the rankings, are based on a very thin base of research.
Accreditation provides a framework that elevates educator preparation programs to continually self-assess and conduct evidence-based analyses of their programs and efficacy (CAEP). These evidence-based reviews, rooted in continuous improvement, are helping to ensure the LSU’s preparation programs produce successful educators. The culmination of the accreditation process is a public statement of an institution’s continuing capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon requirements.
“Self-regulation through accreditation embodies a philosophy that a free people can and ought to govern themselves through a representative, flexible, and responsive system. Decentralization of authority honors the rich diversity of educational institutions in our pluralistic society and serves to protect both institutional autonomy and the broader culture of academic freedom in our global society” (SACS-COC). A distinctive quality of a profession is self-regulation. Professional accreditation is critical and matters!
CAEP. (n.d.). Why it matters. Retrieved from http://caepnet.org/accreditation/about-accreditation/why-it-matters
SACS-COC. (2017). The principles of accreditation: Foundations for quality enhancement. Retrieved from http://www.sacscoc.org/pdf/2018PrinciplesOfAcreditation.pdf
F. Neil Mathews, PhD
Director and Olinde Endowed Professor
LSU School of Education