University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen said he will recommend the University of Alaska Anchorage close its School of Education, following its loss of national accreditation.

The UAA School of Education lost its accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) in January, meaning there was no guarantee that people who graduated with teaching degrees from UAA would actually get licenses to teach. In light of that, Johnsen ordered an expedited report to look at options.

The report analyzes three alternatives, including continuing to teach the affected programs as UAA seeks CAEP reaccreditation for the School of Education, or doing so for three years then closing the school after its current students graduate.

The third option, which Johnsen is recommending to the University of Alaska Board of Regents, would discontinue seven initial licensing programs, including degrees in elementary and secondary education, as of Sept. 1.

The entire School of Education would close its doors by July 2020.

The second and third proposals include a way for Anchorage students to continue their education in Anchorage.

Paul Layer, UA's vice president of Academics, Students & Research, said education classes would still be offered at the Anchorage campus, but would be administered from the system's Fairbanks or Southeast campuses which both have accredited degree programs. 

Students could take all their classes, as well as do their student teaching, in Anchorage.

"Our goal is to minimize the impact on students," Layer said, adding that more than 100 education students at UAA have already transferred into programs run by the other schools.

Layer said combining programs would likely lead to a loss of staff and faculty at UAA, but those numbers are still being analyzed.

News that Johnsen is not recommending UAA seek re-accreditation may not be what UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen wanted to hear.

Sandeen released this statement:

"Over the past three months, I have strongly advocated to President Jim Johnsen and the University of Alaska Board of Regents to allow the UAA School of Education to apply for CAEP accreditation for its initial teacher licensure programs. I have complete confidence the school’s faculty would successfully achieve accreditation based on the significant progress they have made toward compliance with CAEP standards. I also have faith the Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development would continue to provide a path to licensure for our students, even as we are seeking accreditation.

"That said, authority regarding this matter ultimately rests with President Johnsen and the board of regents, and I will abide by their decision. If the regents accept the president’s recommendation to dissolve the UAA School of Education, we will work hand-in-hand with our colleagues at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Southeast to smoothly transfer students to those institutions' education programs. Students planning to graduate in spring or summer 2019 will still be able to finish out their education programs at UAA. Our students' ability to successfully complete their degrees is our utmost priority."

 

The Board of Regents will meet via teleconference on Monday, when members are expected to decide what happens next.

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