College of Education receives stellar NCATE review

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Lipscomb University’s College of Education (COE), a known leader and innovator in education in the state of Tennessee, recently received reaccreditation and approval of 22 new or revised teacher education programs by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), a national agency dedicated to improving student learning by improving the quality of teacher education.  

During the NCATE accreditation site visit earlier this month, the College of Education’s 18 revised teacher licensure programs and four new programs were approved with no areas for improvement cited.

Since its last NCATE accreditation review in 2004, the COE has grown to more than 500 graduate students, added a doctorate degree, established several off-campus sties, doubled the size of the faculty and expanded to seven graduate programs. Results will become official at the NCATE board meeting in October. The college was initially accredited in 1967 under the leadership of Thomas Whitfield, longtime education department chair at Lipscomb.

"We are pleased that the NCATE review was so positive. This reaccreditation is particularly important to the college as it has changed dramatically since the last NCATE review in 2004. It was encouraging that the team of 11 people saw innovation at work in our college and the daily improvements that have led to high quality programming, faculty and students,” said Candice McQueen, dean of the College of Education.

McQueen said that during the site visit exit interview, the college was notified that the NCATE review resulted in approval of all state licensure programs with no weaknesses cited and passage of all six NCATE standards with no areas for improvement cited. These standards include proficiency in the areas of candidate knowledge, skills and professional dispositions; assessment system and unit evaluation; field experiences and clinical practice; diversity; faculty qualifications, performance and development; and unit governance and resources.

Bob Wolffe, NCATE chair and professor of education at Bradley University, said that the committee’s report showing that Lipscomb’s College of Education had met the required standards “is as good as it gets.” He commented to the Lipscomb team that he observed “character, commitment, charisma, caring about the profession as well as the degree candidates, the students they will teach and each other; and a spirit of ‘coopetition,’ being competitive but doing so in a positive and cooperative way to achieve the best outcomes possible.”

The COE offers undergraduate and graduate programs that enable candidates to teach in 24 different subject areas with students from kindergarten to high school. More than 500 students are currently enrolled in graduate education programs at Lipscomb and at three off-campus sites. The college’s programs are fully accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Tennessee State Board of Education.

About the College of Education

Lipscomb University’s College of Education was cited as one of the best university teacher preparation programs in the state in the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s 2011 Tennessee Teacher Preparation Program Report Card when comparing the school’s graduates with veteran teachers.

The COE is the professional development provider for the first public-school-to-charter-school transformation in Tennessee. Lipscomb is in its second year of the innovative transformation partnership with Nashville’s under-performing Cameron Middle School as it transitions to a charter school. The partnership is creating a nationally recognized body of research on embedded professional development and instructional coaching for P-12 schools and is drawing strong regional and national interest.

The COE has received more than $2.5 million of competitive grant monies to strengthen P-12 math and science instruction for local inservice teachers. These funds include awards of four recent Race to the Top grants promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and conducting professional development for teachers in Davidson, Cheatham, Williamson, Sumner and Robertson counties in Tennessee.

Lipscomb University was also selected as the local education partner for Nashville’s first Teach For America teaching corps, which launched in fall 2009. It serves as a host institute for licensure and master’s programming. The COE recently partnered with Metro Nashville Public Schools to train more than 130 teachers in best practices for educating English-language learners after competing with other universities for the opportunity. In addition, the COE is partnering with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce to coordinate its “Education 2020 Speaker Series” with the college’s acclaimed “Teaching, Learning and Leading Forum.”


NCATE’s dual mission is accountability and improvement in education preparation. The NCATE accreditation process establishes rigorous standards for teacher education programs, holds accredited institutions accountable for meeting these standards, and encourages unaccredited schools to demonstrate the quality of their programs by working for and achieving professional accreditation.

In NCATE’s performance-based accreditation system, institutions must provide evidence of competent teacher candidate performance. NCATE accredited colleges of education are expected to ensure that teacher candidates know their subject and how to teach it effectively.

Currently, 656 institutions are accredited and nearly 70 others are candidates and precandidates for accreditation. The number of candidates for accreditation has almost tripled in the past five years, due to the growing demand for accountability from states and the public, and the number of accredited institutions has risen steadily.

NCATE is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, founded in 1954. More than 30 national associations representing the education profession at large make up the council. The associations that comprise NCATE appoint representatives to NCATE’s policy boards, which develop NCATE standards, policies, and procedures. Membership on policy boards includes representatives from organizations of teacher educators, teachers, state and local policymakers, and professional specialists in P-12 schools. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes NCATE as a professional accrediting body for colleges and universities that prepare teachers and other professional personnel for work in elementary and secondary schools.