The Department of Education and Counseling in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University is undergoing reaccreditation by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This routine process, which occurs every five years or so, is designed to ensure that the state’s colleges and universities meet, if not exceed, specific academic requirements so that they graduate qualified teachers, administrators, and counselors.
On March 19 to 21, a review team composed of education professionals drawn from colleges and school districts from around the state arrived on campus to complete the process and to either re-accredit the programs or to make recommendations for improving certain areas which will lead to reaccreditation.
“To be employed in the public schools as a teacher, an administrator, or a counselor, candidates must meet the requirements for certification mandated by each state’s department of education,” said Carol M. Thon, M.S., accreditation officer in the Department of Education and Counseling. “In Pennsylvania, the requirements are set high, and the state’s college and university programs entrusted with preparing candidates to meet those requirements must have their programs approved by the state’s Department of Education.”
Villanova has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to prepare its graduates in secondary education (grades 7-12) in certain areas. Every five years or so, the PDE reviews programs to make sure that the University continues to prepare graduates properly and that its graduates are ready to meet PDE teaching standards.
The PDE reaccreditation process also offers an opportunity for all associated departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to discuss what their goals and priorities are as they relate to teacher education, and how best to achieve them. “The recertification process becomes an extended conversation among all of the constituents involved in the teacher education process: the Education and Counseling Department with the other departments in the College in the teaching areas, with the administrators and teachers of the cooperating school districts who open their classrooms to Villanova’s novice pre-professional candidates,” said Connie Titone, chair of the Department of Education and Human Services. “The ongoing conversation also includes our students, both current and past, who serve on the advisory council and in the network of educators in the community. In this sense, the process becomes as much an internal re-examination as an external one.”
The ongoing conversation begins with a self-study of each program, Thon said. The PDE requests that universities show how their candidates are being prepared to demonstrate competence in each of the academic standards and how universities evaluate the success of those candidates in doing so.
The Department of Education and Counseling has created a matrix listing the state’s academic standards in a particular teaching discipline and showing what courses enable candidates to meet those standards, Thon explained. “The departments provide syllabi and student work from each course showing not only what the professor intended to teach, but also evidence showing what the students in those courses actually learned,” she said. Narratives are written for each subject area, expounding on the details of course objectives and assessment. In addition, departments must provide a “Self-Study of the General Standards” required of all accredited programs.
The study includes information related to the program mission, assessment, admissions, design, field experiences, student teaching, collaboration, advising and monitoring, exit criteria, and faculty. The state reviewers examine how the mission of the programs reflects the mission of the University and the level of commitment of these various constituencies to the program.
The PDE Review Team has received the extensive self-studies in each program area; the team comes to campus to verify the information that has been written in those studies. In order to do so, the team examines the syllabi, evidence and faculty vitae assembled in each area, and interview major participants in the program. These include current students, faculty, staff, Villanova administrators, including the department chairs, the Deans, and the University President.
In addition, cooperating teachers and administrators from area schools, and members of the Teacher Education Advisory Council, are brought on campus to be interviewed. When reviewers are satisfied that they have the information that they need, they submit their reports to the PDE Team Leader, who, along with the PDE Liaison, meet with a representative group of Villanova administrators to deliver a preliminary oral report. Within the ensuing few months, formal reports go back and forth, and ultimately, Villanova receives the privilege to prepare its graduates for state teacher certification for another five years.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences fully supports the mission of the Department of Education and Counseling to professionally prepare teachers, human service providers, counselors, supervisors, and administrators in school and community settings to help improve the quality of the lives of others. “The department is a true community of learners that remains committed to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge,” said the Rev. Kail C. Ellis, O.S.A., Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “We hope that the state review showcases the department’s many strengths and qualities that make our education programs unique.”
The following programs are being considered for reaccreditation by the PDE Major Review process:
|Undergraduate and Graduate Education Programs||Graduate Programs|
Elementary and Secondary School
Single Area Supervisor
For more information on the reaccreditation process, please contact Carol M. Thon, M.S., accreditation officer in the Department of Education and Human Services.