Published: Friday, October 23, 2009
Updated: Thursday, October 22, 2009 20:10
When he got the news, Plattsburgh State President John Ettling felt "deep satisfaction."
After a 10-year exhausting climb, PSUC has been granted national accreditation for its teacher education programs.
The Teacher Education Accreditation Council announced this week the college's programs will be accredited for five years, the longest period of accreditation granted to a new applicant.
"This has been the single most important objective, not just for the teacher education program, but for the entire college," Ettling said.
If the college had not achieved national accreditation before January 2010, admissions would have been forced to close to new education students.
Ettling feared for the future of the college if it lost its teacher education programs.
"We were founded in 1889 as a normal school," he said. "For half of our existence, 60 years, Plattsburgh was a free-standing institution whose primary purpose was to train young men and women to be school teachers. It's who we are."
According to a Cardinal Points analysis, 14
percent of PSUC students in fall 2009 are education majors. For the undergraduate population specifically, education students comprise 9.9 percent of the total. Fifty-nine percent of graduate students are working toward an education degree.
In the history of the college, 25 percent of alumni overall graduated with degrees in education, according to a press release from PSUC's public relations office.
"It's an integral part of our mission," Ettling stressed. "The future without that would have been unimaginable."
David Hill, dean of education, health and human services, said he was not surprised, as he said TEAC's evaluation process is very transparent.
"You know where you stand all along the way, at each step," Hill said. "You don't get to the next (step) unless you're in good shape, so it was no big surprise."
The evaluation found PSUC's program to be "above standard" in the three categories scrutinized: candidate learning, faculty learning and capacity and commitment, the press release stated.
"The TEAC accreditation process asks programs in teacher education to analyze the evidence ... that the graduates of their program are competent, caring, and qualified teachers ," Frank Murray, TEAC president, said in an e-mail. "SUNY Plattsburgh did that to the satisfaction of the visiting audit team and TEAC's accreditation panel and committee found the evidence convincing."
Hill said though this is a big step, it's not the last.
"It's a milestone on this road that we're taking to provide the best programs we can for teacher education, so we've got to keep going," he said. "We don't stop here."
Education faculty said they share this view and feel ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead.
Denise Simard, teacher education undergraduate program coordinator, said accreditation is "a huge sigh of relief, (but) we also know that we can't sit too long."
Simard and Heidi Schnackenberg, graduate program coordinator, acknowledged improvements that still need to be made in the program.
Simard said education personnel should work toward better assessing students' competence "in the spirit of efficiency."
Hill said the program's reputation hasn't suffered, though PSUC was the only SUNY comprehensive college that is neither a community college nor a university center to not be accredited by the initial 2006 deadline.
He said enrollment has not decreased during the application process, and since the redesign of the programs students recognize the higher quality.