When experienced teachers decide to go back to school to improve their instructional skills, move into a different teaching assignment or even simply move up on the salary scale, several options are available. They can attend classes at a local university, register for an online program and work on their own schedule, or complete a hybrid program to fulfill degree requirements. There is one thing, however, that should not be compromised or overlooked no matter what the program or mode of delivery: accreditation.
What Is Accreditation?
As public education evolved from the simple one-room schoolhouse to the multi-level organization that it is today, it became evident that standards should be put in place to create continuity throughout the country. Students were progressing through the elementary and middle grades, entering high school and then transitioning into what were to become university-level programs. Until the end of the late 19th century, however, there was no way to determine what material was appropriate for high school and what should qualify as higher education at the college level.
To establish strict standards for qualified schools throughout the country, as well as to monitor how the standards were being followed, the first accrediting agencies formed in the late 1800s. According to the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, “The American Council on Education (ACE) was formed in 1918, a national association for higher education institutions interested in standardization, effectiveness and reducing duplication in the accreditation process.” By the 1930s, the accreditation process was well-established, providing a standard of educational quality expected from all colleges and universities.
What Is CAEP?
The CAEP, or Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, was created officially in 2013 after NCATE and TEAC recommended the formation of a new accrediting body. In 2014, CAEP was recognized by CHEA, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
The mission of the CAEP is to advance “equity and excellence in educator preparation through evidence-based accreditation that assures quality and supports continuous improvement to strengthen P-12 student learning.” The strategic goals of the CAEP are as follows:
- Continuous Improvement.
- Quality Assurance.
- Strong Foundation.
Why Choose an Accredited Program?
With the rise in popularity and convenience of online master’s degree programs in teacher education came the concern about the depth of preparation offered in which students and teachers never met face to face. New and effective innovations in course content delivery methods, user-friendly message boards and chat rooms, and the way instructors interacted with students changed all that.
Jeff Cravy, principal at South Whidbey Elementary School in Washington, cares little whether a candidate earned a degree in traditional classrooms or online. “‘I haven’t had a bad experience with anyone who has been trained at a specific online college,’ he says. For him, it’s more about whether a teacher has current credentials, fits the needs of the position and makes a good impression during the interview.”
What does matter to schools and district leaders is the quality of the school offering the program. Krista Stockman, information officer at Fort Wayne Community Schools in Indiana, for example, indicates that “officials don’t care whether prospective employees studied online as long as they did so at an accredited school.”
All of the master’s degree programs offered by the University of Louisiana Monroe are accredited by CAEP. Whether your professional focus is reading, special education, English as a second language, technology, leadership, or curriculum and instruction, you can be sure that a master’s degree from ULM will prepare you for the next chapter in your teaching career.
Learn more about ULM’s online M.Ed. programs.