Education Program Receives National Stamp of Approval
Alma College’s teacher certification program has received national accreditation for a period of seven years.
In 2008, the education department began working toward accreditation by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. All programs in Michigan are required by the Michigan Department of Education to become nationally accredited by December 2013, says Nicola Findley, associate professor of education.
“Simply put, accreditation means we’re still in business, but it’s much more important than that,” she says. “This puts Alma on the national stage with institutions from across the country. It also makes us a better program, as we looked at our class offerings and determined what needed to be restructured or reduced for redundancies.”
Accreditation "makes us a better program," says Nicola Findley.
As part of the accreditation process, the education department developed a quality control system and completed an internal audit. Faculty members looked at every process that education students go through at Alma, including applying to the college, being accepted, applying to the education program and applying to student teaching, says Findley.
“We looked at the total quality control and followed the checkpoints of quality along the way,” she says. “It went beyond students. State-level tests, faculty hiring and evaluations, classrooms and budgets all were taken into account. We looked at details to make sure the process was working the way we thought it did.”
The process also involved close collaboration with other departments on Alma’s campus. Because education students often double major or major in the areas that they plan to teach, the education department made sure to include these departments in its quality assessment, says Findley.
“We couldn’t have gotten this far without support of faculty and staff in other departments,” she says. “We worked together to make the education program better. National accreditation shows that the entire institution supports our students.”
Based on the education department’s findings, necessary changes were made to both the elementary education and secondary education programs. Moving forward, the department will continue being more data driven, says Peggy Thelen, associate professor of education.
“We knew what positive changes we wanted to make, and the accreditation process gave us opportunity to make them,” she says. “We added the classes we needed to add and refocused the alignment of our classes. We’re all in this for our students. We want what’s best for them.”
Thelen adds that the accreditation is good for Alma’s education program, as it is assurance that an outside entity has looked at Alma and confirmed that the program is what it says it is.
“We proved that we actually do what we claim we do,” she says. “Accreditation keeps us accountable. It also shows that we are up to date on what’s changing with education as well as the expectations of families and students. As a department, we need to be reacting to these things.”
Posted: Mon, December 10th, 2012 at 8:08AM