Niagara University’s commitment to hold itself to the highest national and international standards in education has reached a historic milestone.
The university is pleased to announce that its College of Education has received unconditional continuing accreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The college first received NCATE accreditation in 1984 and has continued to expand the quality of its programs and partnerships with local P-12 schools and community agencies over the past 26 years.
“The incessant focus on educational excellence at Niagara University includes an ambitious accreditation effort,” notes the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president of Niagara University. “Professional accreditation is one way to assure the public that universities are graduating well-qualified professionals.”
Father Levesque continued, “NCATE’s ongoing accreditation gives national endorsement to Niagara’s longstanding reputation for curricular relevancy and innovation at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, acknowledges our extensive involvement in the region’s school districts, and recognizes the contributions of our faculty scholars. It also highlights the contributions that Niagara University students make within the community – service that reflects our Vincentian mission.”
NCATE’s continuing accreditation includes Niagara University’s teacher education programs in early childhood and childhood education; middle and secondary education programs in all subject areas; TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages); special education; literacy; and Math, Science and Technology. It also includes Niagara’s programs in educational leadership (building and district level), school counseling, and school psychology.
“National accreditation to this high standard is of vital importance to us, to our students and to our alumni,” comments Dr. Debra A. Colley, dean of Niagara’s College of Education, which has over 1,550 students currently enrolled. “NCATE has found extraordinary strengths in what we do – including our partnerships with the P-12 schools, the comprehensive field experiences of our candidates, our outstanding facilities, and the scholarship of faculty that directly ties to teaching and learning. Our students and potential students can be assured that our programs meet and exceed the highest state and national standards for academic excellence.”
Niagara University has been a pioneer in national accreditation; being one of first accredited by NCATE in New York state. The accreditation process itself involves many committed partners, including faculty in arts and sciences, P-12 schools, and community collaborators.
“The most recent review documented commitment and collaboration across campus and throughout our professional community at all levels,” stated Dr. Colley. “The NCATE board of examiners was impressed by the invaluable partnerships of the College of Education and the respective contributions of education candidates in serving all members of society. Of critical importance in our profession, the assessors found that initial and advanced candidates demonstrated strength in the content of their fields; the use of technology; an in-depth understanding of the schools, families and community contexts; and possessed an ability to create meaningful experiences that help all children learn.”
The U. S. Department of Education recognizes NCATE as a specialized accrediting body for schools, colleges, and departments of education. Founded in 1954, NCATE is composed of more than 30 professional and policymaker organizations representing millions of Americans committed to quality teaching.
NCATE-accredited schools must meet rigorous standards set by the profession and members of the public. Teacher candidates must have in-depth knowledge of the subject matter that they plan to teach as well as the skills necessary to effectively convey it to students. Accredited universities must carefully assess this knowledge and skill to determine if a candidate may graduate. The institution must have partnerships with P-12 schools that enable candidates to develop the skills necessary to help students learn and be prepared to understand and work with diverse student populations. Additionally, the university must have the resources, including information technology resources, necessary to prepare candidates to meet new standards.
NCATE revises its standards every five years to incorporate best practice and research in order to ensure that the guidelines reflect a consensus about what is important in current teacher preparation. In the past decade, NCATE has moved from an accreditation system that focused on curriculum and what teacher candidates were offered, to a data driven, performance-based system dedicated to determining what candidates know and are able to do. The new system expects teacher-preparing institutions to provide compelling evidence of candidate knowledge and skill in the classroom. Multiple types of performance assessments are expected throughout the program of study. Candidate qualifications are assessed upon entry, and candidate competence is assessed throughout the program as well as prior to student teaching/internship work, and before completion of the program.
In addition to NCATE accreditation, the College of Education at Niagara University is accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers for its program of professional education for teachers that is offered under consent of the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities in the Province of Ontario.
For more information about Niagara University’s education programs, visit the College of Education website or call 716.286.8560.