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Time for NCATE?!

Posted By: dara waj=kefield on November 21, 2006
NCATE describes itself as an alliance of national professional organizations representing millions of Americans who support quality teaching. The NCATE website states: “NCATE accreditation is a mark of distinction, and provides recognition that the college of education has met national professional standards for the preparation of teachers and other educators. (NCATE, 2006)” Professional distinction and recognition sounds attractive, but at what price?

Just this week I came from another meeting where a dozen faculty and administrators spent nearly an hour attempted to second guess what an NCATE visiting team in 2012 will want to see in terms of assignment names for key indicators for nearly every course in our catalog—a follow-up on an NCATE Standard III - Assessment Committee item. A dozen people earning about $50,000 a school year brings the cost of such meetings to something like $1,500 an hour. A day’s worth of working hours vanished and we still didn’t entirely agree on assignment names. Some are frustrated because we couldn’t agree on labels; all are frustrated because NCATE seems to have taken over a major part of our professional lives.

Similar meetings occur about once a week, on average. On the run-up to our 2005 visit 20 administrators, faculty, and staff met at least an hour every other week for almost five years. Time for NCATE? At approximately $50 an hour that’s $70,000 worth (20 people, 14 meetings a year, 5 years, $50).

I know because I spent four or five hours a month for five years on the NCATE Assessment and Diversity Committees. After the Big Visit in 2005 I became the chair to NCATE Standard IV—Diversity Committee and we meet for an hour every other week to generate minutes for a folder in an evidence crate for 2012. The Diversity Committee came through last year’s Big Visit unscathed, but that hasn’t kept us from starting to worry about 2012. Overall, our “unit” did quite well and our twenty-plus education faculty, administration, and staff can hold their heads up proudly.

I thought there would be a respite after the Big Visit and that we might review our mission, get back to teaching, researching, and grant-writing; reflect upon what we should be doing better. Unfortunately, what we decided we should be doing better is collecting more NCATE data. We are now working on EMDs—Evidence of Mass Dispositions and the “Mother of All Databases.” With much commendable foresight we are already looking ahead to our 2012 visit. The visiting team from our last Big Visit will be glad to know assessment has become a way of life for us.

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 Time for NCATE?! by dara waj=kefield on November 21, 2006
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