The Accreditation Process
Colleges that decide to pursue accreditation should familiarize themselves thoroughly with the scope of the process. The ECADA system provides a framework for self-study, external evaluation, and improvement in the quality of teacher preparation programs. In order for academic programs to be eligible, the home institution must possess regional accreditation recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education.
Application. The college submits an application for accreditation, which is available on the NAEYC website. The signature of the president or chief executive officer demonstrates institutional commitment to the accreditation process. While the initial application fee is standard, the review and annual fees vary according to the number of degree programs submitted for accreditation. Accreditation staff will determine whether the program meets eligibility criteria and will be allowed to participate in the self-study.
Self-Study. Upon approval of its application, the college begins its self-study, a process that takes at least one year. Colleges are encouraged to develop their own timelines, taking into consideration such factors as stakeholder involvement, data collection, writing the report, and allocation of resources including faculty assignments and time.
The self-study report is composed of two major sections: Program Context and Program Content and Outcomes. The Program Context contains twelve criterion: Mission and Role in the Community; Conceptual Framework; Program of Studies; Quality of Teaching; Quality of Field Experiences; Qualifications and Characteristics of Candidates; Advising and Support; Qualifications and Composition of Faculty; Professional Qualifications of Faculty; Faculty Responsibilities; Professional Development for Faculty; Program Organization and Guidance; and Program Resources. These areas provide a comprehensive overview of the community, the college, the internal and external stakeholders, and the academic program.
The second portion of the report, Program Content and Outcomes, is at the heart of the accreditation process and emphasizes assessment, student learning outcomes, data collection, the use of data to make informed decisions regarding instruction, and course and curriculum design. This section of the self-study report requires an in-depth examination of learning opportunities; assessment and evidence of candidate performance; and standards and supportive skills students are expected to attain during their course of study. Supportive skills include foundational concepts from general education and student demonstration of critical thinking skills.
Site Visit. Typically, a site visit is scheduled the semester following submission of the self-study report. The site visit is made by peer reviewers who have been vetted through application and training and are familiar with the type of college setting they have been assigned. The three-day visit includes meetings with internal and external stakeholders; visits to residential classrooms and practicum sites; review of online courses; review of college documents and facilities; and an exit interview. The visit is focused on the alignment of learning opportunities and assessments with accreditation standards, and the use of related data to inform program improvements. The community college seeking accreditation for its program is responsible for the full cost of the site visit.
Commission Review. Following the site visit, the peer-review team submits a report to the national office staff, then edit and return the report to the college. The college then has an opportunity to remark or provide clarification before the final report is sent to the national commission. The commission meets twice annually and determines whether to grant full accreditation, accreditation with conditions, or no accreditation. Programs that are accredited with conditions must address the conditions within their first two annual reports. Accreditation is valid for seven years, and programs are required to submit annual reports for commission review.
November 2011, Volume 24, Number 11
by Martha Muñoz
More information link https://www.naeyc.org/accreditation
What will NAEYC Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation mean to your institution?
“It means that in our effort to produce an excellent early childhood education teacher accreditation will encourage and guide us to consistently look at what we are doing to enhance and improve the teaching learning process.” - Suzanne Wood, Cleveland State Community College
“The process of going through the ECADA self-study was challenging and enlightening. We learned a lot about our program including the meaningful things we were doing with our students but also the areas which could be improved. One of our biggest discoveries was how important it is to keep adjuncts looped into the ins and outs of our program. The greatest challenge we faced was finding the time to devote to the collaborative and focused work needed to complete the self-study.”- Karen Stooksbury and Lisa Mandracchia, Walters State Community College
“In my opinion, the NAEYC Accreditation process has given our faculty and staff a chance to truly examine all aspects of our program to ensure that we are serving the students to the best of our ability. It has prompted us to further talk with our community stakeholders about what they hope to see in Southwest graduates. It opened additional lines of communication with our students about their needs and experiences. Finally, it gave us the opportunity to look honestly at our program to highlight the things we do well and improve on areas that we might not have realized needed help. By doing all these things, we can be confident that our students have received a quality education and are prepared to provide quality early childhood education to Tennessee’s children.”- Elizabeth Wilson, Southwest Tennessee Community College