The Obameter

Require all schools of education to be accredited

"Will require all schools of education to be accredited."


Subjects: Education

Updates

Accreditation not the destination for all schools

Barack Obama said during his 2008 campaign that he would "require all schools of education to be accredited."

The idea behind Obama's promise is that schools that educate future teachers would have to meet spelled-out standards. To accomplish this, the U.S. Education Department started a rulemaking process.

From what we found, the rulemaking process on this promise largely involved education standards for teachers.While the word "accreditation" was not used, it does "assess the performance of teacher preparation programs at higher education institutions in the State" as stated in this official notice.

When we last checked on this update, we rated it In the Works, because teacher education regulation was ongoing.

Now, in 2016, this regulation has been passed, and is expected to be implemented on the state level in the 2016-17 school year, as states will begin creating a reporting system for teachers. These reports will be likely implemented in the 2017-18 academic year.  

The regulations also call for transparency in teacher preparation programs and allowing states flexibility in what to report beyond the required standards.

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation commended the new regulations, saying the regulations reflected their own requirements for teachers. The National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers criticized the regulations, however, as the teachers' report cards are tied to student performance on standardized testing.

We spoke to Elena Silva, director of PreK-12 education with New America Foundation, who told us that at this point accreditation is not mandatory, and there is not a federal standard for accreditation. Currently, the standards are set by CAEP—the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Similar to Common Core, however, states can choose whether or not they want to follow CAEP's standards, according to Silva. Many states create their own accreditation regulations that often look similar to CAEP but are different. Silva also said that not all schools of education are accredited, as it is not federally required and there are so many accrediting bodies.

The last time we checked this, it was rated In the Works, because the teacher regulation rulemaking was in process. Not all schools of education are currently accredited, however. Because there is no evidence that it is going to become federally mandatory, this is unlikely to change in the near future. Obama said all schools of education would be required to be accredited. Because this is not the case, we rate this Promise Broken.

Sources:

Federal Register, "Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, Negotiator Nominations and Schedule of Committee Meetings—Teacher Preparation and TEACH Grant Programs," Oct. 26, 2011

U.S. Department of Education "Improving Teacher Preparation: Building on Innovation" , accessed Oct. 31, 2016

U.S. Department of Education Press Release, "Education Department Releases Final Teacher Preparation Regulations" Oct. 12, 2016

CAEP, New Regulations Provide Opportunity for States and Teacher Preparation to Work Together to Strengthen Quality, Oct. 12, 2016

NEA on Department of Education's Regulations on Teacher Preparation Programs, Oct. 12, 2016

AFT's Weingarten on Teacher Preparation Programs Regulations

Email interview with Dorie Nolt in the Department of Education  

Phone interview with Elena Silva, director of PreK-12 education policy, New America Foundation

Education Department is working on drafts for new rules

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama said that his administration would "require all schools of education to be accredited."

When we asked the Education Department about the status of this promise, a spokeswoman said the issue is currently in the midst of rulemaking -- an often drawn-out process under which a federal agency proposes a new standard, then seeks input from various interest groups, refines its proposal, and ultimately makes the rule official.

The department kicked off the rulemaking process with an official notice posted on Oct. 26, 2011. Broadly, the subject of the rulemaking process concerns standards for educating future teachers. Among other topics, the process is slated to address:

• "The requirements for institutional and program report cards on the quality of teacher preparation.”

• "The requirements for state report cards on the quality of teacher preparation.”

• "The standards to ensure reliability, validity, and accuracy of the data submitted in report cards on the quality of teacher preparation.”

• "The criteria used by states to assess the performance of teacher preparation programs at higher education institutions in the State, the identification of low-performing programs … and the consequences of a State's termination of eligibility of a program.”

The rulemaking process doesn't use the word "accreditation,” but it does clearly address the question of how teacher education is regulated and overseen, which we think is close enough for our purposes. What keeps this from a Promise Kept is that the rulemaking effort is ongoing. Several electronic sessions were held earlier this year.

For this reason, we are keeping the rating at In the Works, and expect to do so for the duration of Obama's first term.

Sources:

Federal Register, "Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, Negotiator Nominations and Schedule of Committee Meetings—Teacher Preparation and TEACH Grant Programs," Oct. 26, 2011

Education Department, "Negotiated Rulemaking for Higher Education 2011 -- Team I, Teacher Preparation Issues," accessed Nov. 16, 2012

Accreditation proposal not yet advancing

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama said that his administration would "require all schools of education to be accredited."

We found no public references to progress on this initiative using searches of Whitehouse.gov, Google and Nexis. In addition, at least one expert in the field was unaware of any moves to advance this promise.

The Education Department is busy encouraging educational reforms under the "Race to the Top" program, which was passed as part of the economic stimulus bill approved last February. But so far there's nothing specific about requiring accreditation for all schools of education. So we rate this promise Stalled.

Sources:

Interview with Jane Leibbrand, the vice president for communications with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, Jan. 11, 2010

Internet and Nexis searches that produced no results