UAA offers way forward after educators' accreditation crisis
University of Alaska Anchorage staff are hopeful the 200-plus School of Education students affected by its recent accreditation crisis will be taken care in the very near future.
"Based on the fact that we had such a positive and rapid decision, on the spring and summer '19 grads," said UAA Chancellor Dr. Cathy Sandeen. "I am very hopeful that we will have good news for the rest of our students, but I need to be respectful of the process."
On Tuesday the state Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) said it will continue to take recommendations for teaching licensures for UAA spring and summer students.
The news helps UAA graduate student Nicholas Tabaczka, who will graduate this May.
"I'm not planning on leaving the state," Tabaczka said. "Me being highly competitive on paper doesn't hurt me, I'm not that worried about it. Some of my other cohorts however are concerned."
Keith Boswell won't graduate until this fall or next spring, depending on how many summer credits he takes. The current uncertainty caused him to change his major to history.
"They put their paperwork in August of 2017," Boswell said. "It took more than a year. So potentially they wouldn't find out on the reaccreditation until 2021. They are asking us to trust them and the process, but the way this was handled is hard to fathom."
Sandeen says it was blinded sided by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation's decision.
"Typically it's either approved for accreditation or not approved," Sandeen said. "We were previously awarded accreditation and had every reason to believe we would be reapproved."
That turned out not to be the case, however. To get accreditation, UAA’s teaching degree programs were required to meet five CAEP standards. If any program fails to meet one of the five standards, it’s placed on probation for two years. UAA failed in four of the five, according to a report and letter from the council.
The finding, along with an on-campus review of the programs in April, led to a complete revocation of their CAEP accreditation without any probationary period.
Sandeen downplayed the scale of the problem, noting that much of the university is unaffected.
"This decision on the School of Education is affecting a small number of students, about 200 out of 17,000 students," Sandeen said. "It's an unfortunate circumstance with a small group of programs and a small group of students. I feel for them and we are doing everything we can for them. UAA is strong, our overall accreditation is intact and in good standing. All other programs are also intact and in good standing."
UAA's leaders say they did everything they could once the news was released to them. The next step is a meeting with DEED on Jan. 22.
The board will then meet on Feb. 4 to discuss the findings in the meeting, and make a decision soon after as to what to do with the remaining students in the program.
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