APU Serves as National Model for Schools of Education

by Shannon Linton '07

On July 15, more than 50 academicians from across the nation gathered at APU for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Board of Examiners Training. APU was selected by NCATE for this rare opportunity to serve as a model for the accreditation process as a result of its reputation for excellence.

Last year, APU's School of Education was recognized with 100 percent approval by NCATE, the premiere accreditation organization for schools of education in the United States. APU gained a seven-year re-accreditation, the maximum number of years available. Vice president of NCATE's unit accreditation, Antoinette Mitchell, said she heard "excellent reports" about the quality of APU's assessment system, and called APU's institutional report "outstanding."

Dean Helen Easterling Williams, Ed.D., welcomed the visiting group of examiners by sharing snapshots of APU's longstanding history of excellence. Williams also explained that at the core of the School of Education lies a conceptual framework that not only serves to synchronize the school's efforts with the university's motto of God First, but also stands as a mark of distinction between the APU School of Education and other similar entities.

During their visit, as part of a week-long training session to become Board of Examiners members, the guests learned about the accreditation process by observing a recreation of APU's re-accreditation presentation. This simulated team visit included conducting interviews with School of Education faculty and reviewing exhibits.

"Azusa Pacific is uniquely positioned to influence the dialogue and reform on education," said Dean Williams. “Already California is considered the 'hot spot' for this conversation. By having NCATE on campus, we had the ability to influence those who will impact education for decades to come. This has been an awesome opportunity and awesome responsibility."

Re-accreditation is a three to four year process during which the school engages in an intense self-study reviewing and updating curriculum, assessing faculty scholarship, and highlighting internal and external partnerships. In addition, site teams from the accreditation agencies visit the school to verify that the programs' standards reflect the level of proficiency claimed, examining everything from the strength of the curriculum to the quality of the faculty.