The Daily Gamecock

Educators visit USC for hands-on training

Teachers learn how to serve on accreditation teams

This week, USC’s College of Education helped teach teachers to grade how other teachers teach their students how to teach.

Around 80 preschool to college educators visited Columbia Sunday through Tuesday to learn how to serve on accreditation teams that evaluate colleges of education around the country. On Monday, they visited with more than 70 members of USC’s professional education community, including faculty and students, and conducted interviews and evaluations as part of a hands-on training experience. “As opposed to getting trained on theoretical stuff where they’ve made up this university, we got a chance to do a simulated site visit,” said Mark Meyers, dean of the College of Social Sciences, Health and Education at Cincinnati’s Xavier University.

The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education NCATE) chose USC’s College of Education because of its strong showing in its accreditation in Fall 2010.

“[The faculty] did all the same interviews they had done just last year for their visit,” Meyers said. “Not only did they act as if they were in an interview, but they also took time immediately after to say, ‘You might have been able to get more out of me if you asked this type of thing.’”

On Tuesday, the educators compared their evaluations to the conclusions of the actual team that accredited the college.

School accreditation is a somewhat complex affair. NCATE accredits colleges of education specifically, as opposed to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), which accredits USC and other Southern institutions as a whole. In order to be accredited by NCATE, a Southern school must first be accredited by SACS, and in order for a public institution in South Carolina to teach education, it must be accredited by NCATE.

NCATE’s on-site review squads are called Boards of Examiners and are composed of academic peers. These peers can range from kindergarten teachers to heads of college education departments. Yi Huang, NCATE’s vice president of accreditation, said a combination of USC’s excellent showing last year and the complexity of its professional education unit made it an ideal place to train examiners.

“[USC] has lots and lots of programs at initial and advanced levels, goes through national program reviews, has over 60 different combinations of programs, has national recognition and has an excellent partnership with schools to help address the schools’ needs,” Huang said.
Meyers also extolled USC’s professional development school network, saying he knew of it before visiting.