Sacred Heart University's Farrington School of Education Receives NCATE Accreditation

News Story: June 1, 2011

The Isabelle Farrington School of Education at Sacred Heart University has earned full accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the organization responsible for professional accreditation of teacher education.

NCATE-accredited schools must meet rigorous standards set by the profession and
members of the public. These include:

• Teacher candidates must have in-depth knowledge of the subject matter they plan to teach as well as the skills necessary to convey it so that students learn
• The college or university must carefully assess knowledge and skill to determine which candidates may graduate
• The institution must have partnerships with P-12 schools that enable candidates to develop the skills necessary to help students learn
• Candidates must be prepared to understand and work with diverse student populations
• College and university faculty must model effective teaching practices
• The school, college or department of education must have the resources, including in the area of information technology, necessary to prepare candidates to meet new

NCATE revises its standards every five years to incorporate best practices and research to ensure that the standards reflect a consensus about what is currently important in teacher preparation. In the past decade, NCATE has moved from an accreditation system that focused on curriculum and what teacher candidates were offered, to a data-driven, performance-based system dedicated to determining what candidates know and are able to do. The new system expects teacher preparation institutions to provide compelling evidence of candidate knowledge and skill in the classroom.

Meeting NCATE accreditation standards also helps institutions prepare new teachers for new, more rigorous licensing standards in many states. NCATE accreditation standards incorporate the model state licensing principles developed by a task force of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

“Studies show that teacher quality is the most important factor for student achievement in our nation’s schools,” said Sacred Heart University President John J. Petillo. “It is imperative that teachers be well-qualified before they enter today’s classrooms.”

A nearly six-year process, this was the School of Education’s first time applying for NCATE accreditation. “The effort involved a serious commitment of time and energy on the part of many people,” said Dr. Patricia Walker, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions.

“The list of those involved in this process of assessment and continuous improvement is nearly endless. Without the help of the university and college administrators, the State Department of Education, local school boards, administrators, teachers and, of course, the dedication of the candidates, faculty and staff of the School of Education, the task would have been impossible,” added Dr. Edward W. Malin, director of the Isabelle Farrington School of Education. “It was truly a collaborative effort.”

The School of Education’s NCATE coordinator, Dr. Edward Hendricks, also emphasized the importance of partnership and collaboration. “NCATE accreditation specifically recognizes the quality of the School of Education’s  programs, but the team that NCATE sends to the campus reviews all aspects of the university’s operations from the president’s and provost’s offices and the library to our technology and budgeting resources. They examine everything in their effort to determine the ability of the institution to produce highly qualified educators.”

He said that NCATE’s report found that the School of Education and its programs met every NCATE standard. The School was particularly commended for its custom-designed electronic Student Advising, Assessment and Reporting system (e-STAR). The report also noted that the school’s “full-time, university-based faculty at both initial and advanced levels appear highly qualified.”

SHU’s Isabelle Farrington School of Education is the top independent educator of teachers and administrators in the state and annually recommends about 300 students for teaching certification. The School of Education’s internship program, designed for students who are completing their initial certification program after they have earned their bachelor’s degree, now places over 200 interns in schools each year.

In addition to achieving NCATE accreditation, the Farrington School of Education was recently awarded national recognition of its Elementary Education Teacher Preparation Program by the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) and of its Intermediate Administration and Supervision Program by the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC).

The U. S. Department of Education recognizes NCATE as a specialized accrediting body for schools, colleges and departments of education. NCATE is composed of more than 30 professional and policymaker organizations representing millions of Americans committed to quality teaching. It was founded in 1954 by the teaching profession and the states. NCATE continues its mission today – the profession and the states working together for excellence in teacher preparation and development.