CAEP accreditation helps education graduates be prepared to serve nationwide
A college degree without accreditation is a little like a car without a license plate. Even if you have the same capabilities as everyone else, you’ll be stopped before getting very far. That’s why the Union College Education Program is proud to announce it has earned the approval of CAEP, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. It’s one more way Union is demonstrating its dedication to the success of its education graduates and their future students.
CAEP is a national accreditor which means degrees from schools approved by it are much easier to take across state lines. Requirements for teacher licensing differ from state to state, and they can be quite complicated to navigate. But having a diploma from a nationally accredited college like Union enables teachers to reduce or even bypass required classes or tests in order to attain licensure in any state. Of the more than 4,200 colleges and universities in the United States, only 341 have CAEP accredited education programs.
“These institutions meet high standards so that their students receive an education that prepares them to succeed in a diverse range of classrooms after they graduate,” said CAEP President Dr. Christopher A. Koch. “Seeking CAEP accreditation is a significant commitment on the part of an educator preparation provider.”
Helping graduates succeed as teachers no matter where their calling leads is the goal of Union’s Education Program according to Peter Adams, the program director. “We provide teachers with great experience and hands-on training. They take that training with them whether they’re in a one-room school with all grades or a one-grade class,” he said. “They graduate with a wide variety of experience, which sets them up to be successful regardless of where they end up.”
He explains that the CAEP accreditation proves the college’s continuing commitment to excellence. “National accreditation helps us attract students from all over the country who go on to teach all over the country,” he said.
The program’s alumni from the last five years alone now teach in 24 states and 2 countries, and CAEP accreditation will ensure future graduates are able to do the same with ease. “With national accreditation, our students can more easily transfer their licensure to the state they’re working in, and it helps to ease that transition,” Adams said. “It’s an honor to be a little college in Lincoln, Nebraska, and have the same accreditations that big universities have.”
Union was the first Adventist college to earn national accreditation in 1963 through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). In 2013, NCATE merged with the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, another accreditor of teacher-preparation programs, to form CAEP.
Since the merger, Union was grandfathered into CAEP under NCATE standards. With NCATE accreditation set to expire this year, it was important to the college to achieve approval from the new organization.
The certification is a cycle, and the most qualified schools are granted seven years until their next evaluation. Union’s program was in that top tier of schools, but that doesn’t mean the education faculty plan to relax. Before its next certification cycle, Adams says the program will focus on improving tracking systems to better quantify what graduates are doing and measuring the impact they’re having in the classroom. He says that growing their data collection and statistical measurements will help the program ensure future certification and do an even better job preparing students for their careers.
“We have a strong tradition of teaching teachers,” Adams said. “Superintendents have heard that if they’re looking for teachers, Union graduates have the most thorough training.”
With CAEP accreditation in place, Union’s Education Program can continue to train and ease the transition for graduates who come from and go out to schools across the United States and beyond.
“If you want to make a difference, be a teacher,” said Adams. “Everyone has stories about the teacher who made a difference in their life, whether for better or worse. Few people have that kind of impact on so many lives. But teachers are shaping the next generation every day. Interacting with kids is a powerful responsibility. We need people from all different walks of life and experiences and ethnicities to enter the workforce and become positive role models. Yes, there are challenges. But it’s a ministry whether you teach in an Adventist school, a public school or somewhere else, it’s a way to serve society, students and God. ”
Lauren Bongard Schwarz is a Union College graduate and
freelance writer in Bozeman, Montana.