Should We be Concerned About the Preparation of Teacher and Administrative Candidates Given Shortage
In most professions, if there are shortages, wages increase. In most professions, there is a single accreditor for those seeking to go into the profession. In most professions, there are a single set of standards to drive preparation. None of this is the case with the preparation of teachers and administrators in the United States. Why is it that we would be concerned if the anesthesiologist who puts us under for surgery or the lawyer who defends us or the accountant who does our taxes or the pilot who is flying the plane you are traveling in is well prepared and we throw caution to the wind when it comes to the professionals working with our children?Teacher and administrator preparation is being threatened, undermined and disrespected like never before in history as we see many states implementing short cuts and lowering standards in response to the need for more teaching candidates and increased diversity. These actions degrade the entire profession and puts teachers into classrooms who likely will not be retained and will not be able to positively impact K-12 student performance. While filling positions with poorly prepared adults may seem like an enticing solution, it does not serve the needs of K-12 students and it does not solve the problem. Quality of personnel is tremendously important during a time of unprecedented shortages. States are opening avenues for licensure that prior to the pandemic and great resignation would never have been contemplated. For example, in 15 states, two on-line courses will get you licensed. In others, a high school diploma is sufficient. Still others, serving as a substitute is enough for a permanent license.
One partial solution to this problem is to ensure candidates being hired come from providers with national accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP is the only accreditor whose mission and standards focus on the K-12 student needs and candidate’s ability to impact student learning and is the only accreditor who has taken action against sub-standard preparation providers. From CAEP’s inception in 2013, our focus has been on outcomes from preparation rather than inputs.
CAEP accredits all types of preparation providers both nationally and internationally. We have over 600 accredited providers including some of the largest and smallest in the nation and currently 14 percent of our membership includes minority serving institutions. We have a well-trained volunteer pool of 700 professionals who work in teams to ensure all standards are evaluated. Every volunteer’s interactions are evaluated and this information is used to recalibrate our training. We are a consequential accreditor, balancing the goals of accountability and continuous improvement. As such, not everyone who seeks CAEP accreditation receives it.
I first served on the Board of Directors of CAEP when I was the State Superintendent of Illinois where I served in that capacity for 8 years. I saw the importance of key personnel in low performing districts and furthered dialog and relationships between K-12 and higher education infrastructure. This is important in every state and is the reason why CAEP, where I currently serve as President, has 33 formal state partnership agreements and two additional states which count CAEP towards their state review process. We work with both states and education preparation providers (EPPs) to further the goals of accreditation – accountability and continuous improvement with a goal of aligning state and national efforts towards quality and eliminating unnecessary duplication of efforts.
When I was State Superintendent in Illinois, I watched, with dismay, as legislators overruled an independent state decision making board’s decision not to approve a provider, whose candidates were not being hired and whose preparation did not meet standards. Their rationale was because the preparation provider was “nationally accredited.” I was astonished. How could a provider whose candidates were not being hired due to lack of quality be allowed to continue to operate? In this instance, national accreditation was actually undermining state efforts towards quality and I knew then that something had to change. That is when I decided to join the CAEP Board of Directors.
Despite initial growing pains with the merger of two prior accreditors (NCATE and TEAC) CAEP, has emerged as a force to be reckoned with as an accreditor that is shaping teacher quality at a time when it is most needed. Many refer to CAEP accreditation as the “gold standard” of preparation but we view our standards and accreditation as what is needed for basic and essential preparation. We make decisions in a thorough, fair and transparent process that has value for those we accredit.
CAEP possesses an immense amount of data and evidence of what has been most effective in implementing research-based standards. We not only require continuous improvement with the use of data and enhancement of quality assurance, but we also practice continuous improvement for ourselves as an organization. For example, we analyzed evidence from more than 200 accreditation visits and convened some of the best education researchers in the country in developing our current standards.
It is not fair to anyone, most importantly this nation’s children, to allow for wide variance with standards and quality of preparation. Providers who do the hard work of maintaining quality should be recognized, celebrated and funded. We must and can do better for this nation and future generations of our workforce.
You may access more information about CAEP at the main website.
If you are interested in applying for accreditation with CAEP you may access more information at Applying to CAEP.
Christopher Koch, Ed.D.
Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation