To receive accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) is of utmost importance to every credential program in the State of California. Without it, programs are like drivers driving vehicles without a license. Naturally, those credential programs that do not receive accreditation are put on probation. Drawing from firsthand observation, reflection and introspection, the author of this paper shares with the reader successful accreditation experience with the Designated Subjects Credential (DSC) program at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and reveals lessons associated with this accreditation experience.
The Designated Subjects Credential (DSC) Program at California State University, Long Beach was initiated in 1976, the first non-University of California-based program approved under the Ryan Act. There are two other comparable programs within the California State University system. The DSC has continuously operated as both career and technical education and adult education, and although this is an educational program, it is not housed in College of Education. Instead, it is housed in the College of Health and Human Services and is considered part of an accreditation unit which comprises the College of Education and Affiliated Programs in the College of Health and Human Services (School Nursing, School Social Work, Designated Subjects, Adapted Physical Education, and Clinical Rehabilitative Services). During its 32 year existence, the DSC has evolved from one that was patched together from existing courses that totaled nearly 30 semester units of instruction, to one that was designed specifically to meet the program elements described in the Ryan Act and successive credential laws and regulations. The program boasts of its Level I and Level II courses that are designed according to credential regulations to prepare in-service teachers to teach career and technical and adult education courses in California.
The DSC is monitored by both regional and national accreditation. It must be pointed out that accreditation is a voluntary peer review process for assessing and enhancing academic and educational quality and it is required by Californian credential laws and regulations for authorization to offer credential programs. NCATE review process is voluntary; that is, institutions choose whether to be reviewed (Edelfelt & Reiman, 2003, p. 37). NCATE is the professional accrediting organization for schools, colleges, and departments of education in the United States. It is a coalition of more than thirty organizations representing teachers, teacher educators, policy makers, and the public (Fine, 2000, p. 55). NCATE accredits programs against standards it has developed (Edefelt & Reiman, 2003, p. 37). According to Edefelt and Reiman (2003), for accreditation by NCATE, an institution prepares a report that explains how its program conforms to NCATE’s standards; then, a cross-section of educators from outside the state conduct a site visit to validate that the standards have been met (p. 37). Like all other credential programs in the nation, the DSC is not immune from the so-called peer review process. Since its inception, the DSC has been evaluated every seven years by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. While traditional accreditation mechanisms are based on setting standards by consensus, the current approach focuses on student learning, valid assessment of student learning, and continuous program improvement, all based on evidence (Murray, 2000, p. 40). Obviously, without accreditation, no credential programs are authorized to offer either career/technical education teaching credentials or adult education teaching credentials in California. While NCATE is the premier national accreditation body for education professionals for preschool through high school education and it accredits initial (basic) and advanced credentials and masters programs, CCTC is the state licensing agency for educational professionals from preschool through high school and it accredits initial (basic) and advanced credentials programs.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Reflection: It refers to the process of thinking about a previous experience or event.
Accreditation: This term refers to the recognition and acceptance of the academic standards of an educational establishment by an outside agency, association or body such as an examination board, a professional and qualifying body, or a more senior educational establishment. In career and technical education and in adult education, in California, most educational establishments seek accreditation from CCTC and NCATE.
Accountability: Skinner (1968, p. 41) defined accountability as involving the teacher’s producing evidence regarding the quality of his or her teaching, usually in terms of what happens to pupils, then standing ready to be judged on the basis of the evidence. Any accountable teacher, therefore, takes responsibility for the results his or her instruction produces in learners.
Conceptual Framework: A conceptual framework is used to outline possible courses of action or to present a preferred approach to a system analysis project. The framework is built from a set of concepts linked to a planned or existing system of methods, behaviors, functions, relationships, and objects. A conceptual framework might, in computing terms, be thought of as a relational model. For example, the conceptual framework at California State University, Long Beach revolves around six variables: 1. Growth and Learning 2. Social Responsibility 3. Diversity 4. Service and Collaboration 5. School Improvement 6. Research, Scholarship, and Evaluation
Andragogy: It is defined as the art and science of helping adults learn by the father of adult education, Malcolm Knowles. The term was first coined by a German grammar school teacher, Alexander Kapp, in 1833. In the United States, the concept of andragogy was popularized by Knowles in the 1970s. Andragogy is used to differentiate it from youth education. Nowadays, whenever educators think of andragogy, it is being associated with student-centered learning in which teachers are considered learning facilitators and students are believed to have self-directed learning skills.
Introspection: Introspection was used by German physiologist Wilhelm Wundt in the experimental psychology laboratory he had founded in Leipzig in 1879. Wundt believed that by using introspection in his experiments he would gather information into how the subjects’ minds were working, thus he wanted to examine the mind into its basic elements. Wundt did not invent this way of looking into an individual’s mind through their experiences; rather, it can date to Socrates. Wundt’s distinctive contribution was to take this method into the experimental arena and thus into the newly formed field of psychology. Introspection is now defined as the mental self-observation reporting of conscious inner thoughts, desires and sensations. It is a conscious mental and usually purposive process relying on thinking, reasoning, and examining one’s own thoughts feelings, and, in more spiritual cases, one’s soul. Introspection is also used now as a research method.
Pedagogy: In adult education, this term is defined as the art and science of teaching children. The word teaching is emphasized. Pedagogy involves the purposeful creation of learning experiences. It is being associated with teacher-centered learning in which teachers are considered knowledge presenters and students are assumed to possess a submissive role of following their instructors.