Teaching the wrong material or even the right names and dates in the wrong context can have damaging consequences. With so many schools across the nation, standards had to be developed in order to maintain the quality of education. This makes it possible for both students and credits to transfer from school to school. These standards also make it possible for educational institutions to be measured and held accountable for the education they provide. Simultaneously, standards have been developed for teachers within such institutions. Working with accreditation standards toward the same goal, teacher certification ensures that academic material is being presented in the best possible way. In doing so, it guarantees students the best chances for comprehension and success.
The Best Teachers
Everyone has one, a teacher or professor who made a difference and redefined a student’s idea of what it means to be an educator. These individuals open students to the potential in something not seen before, maybe even in themselves. They are the ones who care about their subject and teach with a determination to make its value known. These are the teachers who rise above the rest and maybe it is true that their spark or passion cannot be taught. However, this does not change the fact that every teacher should be given the best opportunity and same chance to develop such a passion. After all, teachers were students once and hopefully learned from the best.
Have an Accredited Education
Just like institutions of higher education, teachers have their own set of standards that hold them accountable. These standards are set by accrediting agencies, which determine the definition and value of a teacher’s education. Each has a unique list of requirements that programs must meet in order to qualify for accreditation. Though, there is one thing these agencies all have in common. It is the common denominator defining their worth and giving them power as an accrediting body. At the top of the chain, accrediting agencies should receive approval from the same organization.
The United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation rule over and approve the various standards accrediting agencies set. In other words, most of these agencies have been accredited by the USDE before ever presenting an institution or program with accreditation. This chain ensures that educational programs provide potential teachers with the skills needed to make a difference in their community or a student’s life, regardless of geographic location.
Are Without Borders
Regional accrediting agencies have earned a superior reputation that comes from their specialized structure and age. They are all also accredited by the USDE and an education’s student’s best hope for a smooth and successful transfer into the work force. Recently, another type of accreditation has been changing the rules and making quality education more accessible. National accreditation has recognized specialized teaching programs and started acting as supplemental accreditation for programs at regionally accredited schools. Approved by the USDE, national accreditation promises that education standards are based on nationally set requirements, which are accepted in every region.
In the United States, there are two national accrediting agencies specializing in education performance, The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and The Teacher Accreditation Council. Beginning in 1954, NCATE is the older and more respected agency whose standards are certified by both the USDE and CHEA. The organization has developed a reputation equal to that of regional accreditors and often supplements their institutional accreditation with its own, making it the largest accrediting body to specialize in educational programs.
Before these national agencies, many education students were at a disadvantage. This is because regional agencies only accredit organizations with a definable border, which excludes most online universities. Western Governors University was the first online teacher’s college with NCATE accreditation. One of the largest and fastest growing teacher’s colleges, WGU offers both bachelors and master’s degrees, which double as a direct route to state licensing.
Teachers attend accredited programs in order to qualify for teacher licensing. At the close of their program, each potential instructor is presented with a verification letter. This letter is an award given that shows a student has completed the necessary coursework and gained the necessary experience needed to teach within a specific state. However, this alone does not allow an education graduate to walk into a classroom and start lecturing. It means he or she is allowed to take the state exams necessary to receive certification.
Teachers prove themselves capable of teaching by earning state licensure. It is true; there are 50 different teaching certifications available. Each state has its own department of education and therefore each state has its own list of teaching requirements. This being the case, the possibility of a seamless teaching transfer seems close to impossible. However, at the top of the chain, the USDE approves most of the educational programs states trust and use to recruit teachers. Their USDE approval assures that the quality and functionality of their education is equivalent to other USDE approved programs.
For this reason, many states are willing to wave state teaching exams. This action is called reciprocity and occurs when a state agrees to accept another state’s standards of certification. It means a teacher’s academic curriculum and exams will count toward their certification within another state. Western Governors University graduates are good example of this. Thanks to the school’s accreditation status, around 4,000 potential teachers a year from across the nation can directly apply for licensing in over 40 states. A properly educated teacher from New York has the potential to transfer seamlessly into the Texas education system.
Have Proven Qualified
Though, potential transfers may still have work to do. After students have completed their education and earned their state credentials, they can officially refer to themselves as certified teachers with a license to teach. However, in most states, teachers must prove themselves to be “highly qualified” in order to teach core content areas at certain grade levels. This trend began with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, which specified that all teachers hired to teach core subjects must be “highly qualified.” Currently, 30 of all 50 states adhere to the Act and require educators to pass the Praxis II before they can practice in certain fields.
“Highly qualified” teachers are subjected to additional testing, which separates them from those with state licensure. This is why most teachers cannot practice until after completing two different types of examinations, state exams and the Praxis II. The Praxis II is its own certification, which is separate from state exams. The Praxis examination series is consistent no matter where it is taken. Its material and scores are based on a national context. Results show that students from accredited programs have tter chances of passing the exam and are likely to score higher than students educated in unaccredited programs. Since receiving their NCATE accreditation status, WGU’s education graduates can expect to score 91 percent better on Praxis exams than graduates from schools without any type of accreditation.