Shepherd’s Department of Education has earned accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The seven-year accreditation demonstrates that Shepherd’s programs meet national standards for preparing the next generation of educators.
CAEP is a new accrediting organization, formed in 2013 with the merger of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Preparation (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). Previously, Shepherd had NCATE accreditation. Dr. Scott Beard, acting provost, said Shepherd is the second institution in West Virginia to go through the self-study process and to have a CAEP site visit.
“We came through with a really clean report,” Beard said. “All standards were met, and we only had some minor areas for follow-up in the annual reporting process. We feel really positive about the outcome.”
To achieve accreditation, the education department had to meet five standards designed to assure that education majors develop a deep understanding of content and teaching methods and can demonstrate an ability to have a positive impact on the learning and development of P-12 students. The department must also recruit quality students, demonstrate the impact graduates have in the classroom, and maintain a quality assurance system to measure data that can be used to improve the program.
Dr. Linda Sell, former director of assessment and accountability, spearheaded the reaccreditation process, working closely with Beard and Dr. LeAnn Johnson, assistant professor of education.
Johnson said meeting some of the new standards will involve collecting data on the children with whom student teachers work in the classrooms. It will also involve tracking Shepherd students once they graduate and enter the workforce. During the first three years of teaching, graduates will fill out surveys that Shepherd will have access to as part of the graduates’ yearly evaluations.
“We’re held highly accountable to be able to measure student success, not just in their own learning, but also in their ability to impact their future students’ learning,” Johnson said. “Ultimately the sign of successful teachers is that they are able to actually show that their students are learning. Now we have to figure out creative ways to gather that information. We’ve never had to do that before.”
Beard said having the accreditation gives Shepherd students the assurance they’re in a quality education program that meets national standards and will help prepare them for licensure.
“This was our initial accreditation with CAEP, so we are really pleased with the outcome,” Beard said. “Part of the reason we’re pleased is that teacher education is part of the history and the legacy of Shepherd. We were founded as a state teachers college. That has always been part of Shepherd’s identity and reputation. We see so many of our alumni out in the field having an impact on the P-12 system, and I think we’ll continue to do that.”