The department of education at Hope College has received accreditation for seven years, the maximum possible, through the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).

The program also received highest-possible “Above Standard” designation in the three overall “Quality Principle” categories by which TEAC evaluates programs:  Evidence of Candidate Learning, Evidence of Faculty Learning and Inquiry, and Evidence of Institutional Commitment and Capacity for Program Quality.

“Having an accredited teacher-preparation program is required by the federal government; however, we consider it a minimum standard and do not limit our work by the requirements of accreditation but rather we strive to aim higher,” said Dr. Laura Pardo, professor of education and chairperson of the department.  “Hope’s teacher-preparation program has been accredited for over 80 years and this latest recognition is simply part of our on-going work to provide our teacher candidates with the best teacher-preparation program possible.”

The accreditation is the second recognition highlight for the department within the past few months.  This summer, the college’s educator-preparation program was one of only two in the state to earn a 70, the highest score possible, on the newly released 2010-11 Michigan Department of Education Teacher Preparation Institution Performance Scores.  Hope has consistently ranked as one of the state’s top programs, receiving an “Exemplary” rating, in the annual listing since the report’s inception in 2005.

Founded in 1997, TEAC accredits programs across the United States, including throughout Michigan.  Of the 33 educator-preparation programs in Michigan, 25 either have received or are seeking TEAC accreditation.

The college’s educator-preparation program was previously accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).  NCATE and TEAC are in the process of consolidating and are now transitioning, into the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

The accreditation follows a three-year process that included not only review and a site visit by TEAC, but a comprehensive departmental self-study.  While noting that the accreditation is meaningful, the department especially values the process as a structured opportunity to reflect on its program.

“This being a self-study that was held up to national scrutiny is going to serve our needs incredibly well,” said Nancy Cook, professor of education and director of student teaching.

“The accreditation process is about continuous improvement,” said Madeline Kukla, who is director of national accreditation and special programs for the department.  “We know that our program is good but we also know that any program can always get better.  A program needs to be flexible and adapt to the changing needs of the education world in order to prepare teacher candidates to meet those changes.”

The college’s department of education prepares teacher candidates to teach in elementary and secondary schools. Each year, the department annually recommends approximately 150 graduates to the State of Michigan for teacher certification.  The department currently has 12 full-time faculty.

The teacher-education program at Hope provides prospective teachers with a blend of classroom instruction and field experience. Teacher candidates participate in field placements beginning with their first course in the program, Educational Psychology.  This model continues through the teacher candidates culminating semester of student teaching. The student-teaching placements are available not only locally but also through off-campus programs including in Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  An on-going relationship with Interaction International has also provided student-teaching opportunities in nations including India, Kenya and Thailand.

Student-led chapters of two national professional organizations, the Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), offer professional development and service opportunities for teacher-education candidates. Teacher candidates also have the chance to gain additional experience through activities by volunteering with local organizations that work with children, such as the Children’s After School Achievement (CASA) and Upward Bound programs based at Hope.

Graduates of Hope’s education program teach in public and private K-12 schools around the country, and abroad. Hope education alumni also serve as Peace Corps volunteers, counselors in elementary and secondary schools, curriculum coordinators and supervisors, school administrators and college professors.