Accreditation – Learn About NCATE, TEAC and AACTE

The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) explains that the goal of accreditation “is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.” Accrediting agencies are private educational associations that develop evaluation criteria and conduct evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. If an institution or program requests an agency’s evaluation and meets the agency’s criteria the educational institution is then accredited by the agency.

Prospective teachers should discuss accreditation with schools to which they are considering applying. This applies to both on-campus and online institutions and courses of study. 
All national and regional agencies of accreditation hold online educational institutions and distance learning programs to the same high standards that are required of the traditional on-campus institutions.

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)

The National Council for Accreditation in Teacher Education (NCATE) is a coalition of 33 member organizations, representing over 3 million teachers, educators, specialists, and policy makers who are committed to quality teaching. NCATE has been accrediting colleges for over fifty years. This is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that accredits over 700 colleges and other institutions of higher education in 48 states. NCATE establishes ratings for the high quality preparation of teachers, specialists and administrators.

NCATE is the accrediting agency for all schools, colleges, and departments of education recognized by the US Department of Education (DOE) and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). NCATE’s positive recognition by the Department of Education allows it to accredit many professional education institutions in the US that provide baccalaureate and graduate degree and non-degree programs for the preparation of teachers for elementary and secondary schools, including programs offering distance education.

Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC)

The purpose of the nonprofit Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) is to improve academic degree programs for professional educators, teachers and administrators involved in pre-K through grade 12 schools. TEAC’s goal is to support the preparation of competent, caring, and qualified professional educators. Their membership represents a broad range of higher education institutions, from small liberal arts colleges to large research universities. Membership requires colleges to work through a rigorous multiple step process, including an on-campus academic evaluation, before the institution can advance from candidate to full membership and accreditation. The Teacher Education Accreditation Council’s accreditation system gives serious attention to evidence of student accomplishment.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to helping promote high quality professional development of teachers and school leaders. The AACTE has 800 member-institutions and represents public and private colleges and universities in every state. The AACTE works to positively influence education policy and maintains a strong presence in Washington D.C. In its early years, AACTE was the accrediting body for teacher education, but by the early 1950s, AACTE realized it was being faced with competing demands placed on it as both an accrediting body and a professional organization. Along with the NEA and other governmental and educational organizations, the AACTE helped to establish the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the AACTE continues to participate in accreditation as a component of the NCATE, according to The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education website.

Accreditation is meant to be a guarantee of competence issued by a Department of Education-approved accreditation organization. The purpose of accreditation as it relates to a degree program is to ensure that the degree obtained meets a core standard of learning applicable to the field of study. Curriculum in accredited institutions usually corresponds with state licensure requirements, and this can facilitate the licensing process for teachers.

Because of early 21st century national pressure for more accountability in higher education, a goal has been set to insure that all teacher education programs will be accredited. This is a lofty goal, because, as of 2010, less than half the professional educator programs and schools in the United States were accredited.

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