FLORENCE -- The teacher education program at Francis Marion University has been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) of Washington, D.C. NCATE is one of the most prestigious national accreditations that university teacher education programs can receive.
The official approval came today in a letter to President Fred Carter from Arthur E. Wise, president of NCATE. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes NCATE as the professional accrediting organization for schools, colleges, and departments of education in the United States.
“Accreditation of our teacher education program is another logical step in making FMU one of the region’s best universities,” said Carter. “It underscores the excellence of the faculty and recognizes their ability to develop and offer a top-notch curriculum in education. This is a further indication of excellence in our academic programs.”
FMU is one of 40 schools of education in the nation that received either initial or continuing accreditation by NCATE in its most recent round of decisions. Approximately 500 institutions are accredited by NCATE, and those institutions produce two-thirds of the nation’s new teachers.
Robert Sawyer, dean of the School of Education, Behavioral and Social Sciences, said that NCATE accreditation is an “important milestone for teacher education at Francis Marion University and a huge tribute to the hard work of the faculty, not only in the Department of Education but the entire university.”
Sawyer especially praised the work of Marjorie Pace, chairwoman of the FMU education department, and Wayne Pruitt, professor of education, who led the university’s accreditation efforts during the last three years. Both the undergraduate and graduate programs received NCATE’s approval. FMU’s teacher education program is now one of only 12 NCATE accredited programs among South Carolina’s public and private colleges and universities.
An NCATE accreditation team visited the campus March 20-24 to evaluate the university’s teacher education program, curriculum, policies and procedures. They reviewed departments in the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education, Behavioral and Social Sciences. NCATE expects teacher candidates to have a firm foundation in the liberal arts, and NCATE expects these two schools to demonstrate that they work together to develop future teachers.
“The NCATE label indicates to the public that we have a quality program,” Sawyer said. “However, we will continue to improve our efforts and focus on the extremely important work of training classroom teachers.”
NCATE is a partnership of more than 30 national professional organizations, representing some three million Americans, who have united to ensure high quality teacher preparation. Local and state policymakers, including school board members and chief state school officers, classroom teachers, teacher educators, school administrators and specialists are the foundation of NCATE.
NCATE relies on outstanding educators and public members to develop rigorous standards for teacher preparation and determine which schools of education measure up. Meeting NCATE standards also helps institutions prepare new teachers for new, more rigorous licensing standards in many states.
Over the last 10 years, NCATE has granted accreditation to approximately 75 percent of institutions that have undergone review.
“We at Francis Marion are involved in the public schools every day, and we want to do our part to provide better educational opportunities for our state’s young people,” Sawyer said. “The recently released statewide PACT scores provide a challenge for all of us in education.”
FMU has awarded more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees in education over the last 30 years, and has more graduates employed as teachers in the Pee Dee region than any other university. Of the15 National Board Certified Teachers in South Carolina, the majority have either graduated from Francis Marion or been part of the Pee Dee Electric Cooperative teacher certification program at FMU.