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How Does Location Impact Meaning and Opportunity? Rural Schools and the NCATE Diversity Standard


by Debra Miretzky & Sharon Stevens — 2012

Background/Context: While there is ample evidence that the K–12 student population is becoming increasingly diverse and the teacher workforce is not, very little literature addresses the specific problems rural teacher education programs may experience attempting to meet the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) diversity standard. A 2005 NCATE-sponsored survey found that an unknown number of respondents indicated difficulty in meeting the requirements of the standard and that “geographically isolated” programs were especially affected. The existing research that targets rural programs tends to describe specific practices. As NCATE and TEAC, the two major teacher education accreditation programs, move toward consolidation, revisiting the expectations regarding diversity is critical.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The purpose of this study was to explore rural SCDEs’ experiences with the diversity standard as well as the implications of these experiences, with the aim of reporting and suggesting possible strategies for enhancing the application of the standard at the institutional and agency levels. We hypothesized that rural schools experience difficulty with meeting aspects of the standard due to the potential limitations associated with the schools’ locations. Research questions focused on how rural programs define diversity, identification of obstacles, priorities for programs, and adaptations. One hundred and sixteen NCATE coordinators and/or deans participated in the study’s online survey.

Research Design: This research was an exploratory study that used qualitative and quantitative methods. The instrument included survey questions and items for open-ended responses.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Rural teacher education programs do experience difficulties with meeting the requirements of the NCATE diversity standard. Respondents singled out recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and candidates, inability to provide high-quality diversity experiences, and location as the biggest issues. Respondents perceived that NCATE focuses on race and ethnicity to the exclusion of other categories. In particular, respondents reported strong beliefs that SES and exceptionalities are more universal and more locally relevant and deserve to be recognized as critical priorities for educating candidates who could build on this competence in working with other diversities—a kind of “transferable skills” perspective. Programs would like to see recognition for “good faith” efforts and would value the opportunity to demonstrate the strengths and generalizability of their diversity programs. As NCATE and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) move toward consolidation, new frameworks for assessing these frameworks should be considered.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 114 Number 5, 2012, p. 1-36
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16325, Date Accessed: 9/30/2014 1:56:30 AM

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About the Author
  • Debra Miretzky
    Western Illinois University
    E-mail Author
    DEBRA MIRETZKY is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational and Disciplinary Studies at Western Illinois. She teaches social foundations and education law and policy classes, and is interested in effective strategies for teaching about diversity and for enhancing teachers’ sense of agency in diverse and challenging classrooms. She recently published “My Professor Has Her Opinion and She Sticks with It: Using Multiculturalism to Challenge Assumptions.”
  • Sharon Stevens
    Western Illinois University
    E-mail Author
    SHARON STEVENS is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational and Disciplinary Studies at Western Illinois. She teaches educational psychology classes and is interested in effective strategies for facilitating students’ learning in teacher education programs. She recently coauthored the studies “Parent–Teacher–Student Discrepancies in Academic Ability Beliefs: Influences on Parent Involvement” and “Parent and Teacher Perceptions of Students’ General Scholastic Abilities: Effects on Involvement and Communication.”
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