These days my thoughts are often focused on accreditation. In just a few months, USM will host a site visit team representing the Board of Examiners of the National Commission for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). In preparation for the NCATE site visit in March, we are finalizing the institutional report that is due in January. Although the report is a tremendous amount of work for faculty and staff, it gives us an opportunity to showcase the quality of our teacher education program at USM. I actually find it energizing to compile the report, because it reveals the many strengths in teacher education at USM. Perhaps most important, the report documents that teacher education students at USM benefit from an educational experience that is measured by standards shared by institutions across the United States.
Earlier in the accreditation process, we learned that all of our teacher education programs at USM are nationally recognized by their respective specialized professional associations. This past week we reviewed 2010 data on student performance on national teacher education exams. We learned that students in our Elementary Education program at USM exceeded the state average of percentage items correct in all areas of the Praxis II exam. Praxis II measures knowledge of specific subjects that K–6 educators teach. Additionally, the students exceeded the national average of percentage items correct in five areas of the national exams. For me, that’s energizing. We can celebrate the strengths of our program, and at the same time, we can renew our commitment to continuous improvement.