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Lisa Bertrand on External Evaluation: Preparing for the Process of Program Accreditation

Hi, I’m Lisa Bertrand, professor of educational leadership at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, MO.  For the past three years, I have facilitated the external evaluation process in our department as we prepared for accreditation with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), state accreditation within Missouri, and finally with our professional organization of the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC).

As a department, we prepare leaders for building-level school administration in the Master of Arts degree program, as well as the district-level superintendency at the specialist degree level.  Assessment data for the evaluation of both programs is collected with the use of course and activity rubrics, aligned to our leadership standards.  The department reviews assessment date each semester to ensure systematic use of the results to improve both leadership candidate and program performance. Below are some tips for preparing for an external standards-based evaluation.

Hot Tip:  Make sure you have the most recent set of standards and processes for the evaluation preparation.  During our preparation, the accreditation process for NCATE was altered.  Accreditation and evaluation are no longer based on “inputs,” such as the number of students enrolled in a program or the number of course offerings.  Current processes have been revised to reflect more on “outputs” with curriculum, instruction, and assessment based not only on candidate growth throughout the program, but also the impact the prepared school leader will have on student achievement in PK-12 schools.  Stay updated through webinars provided by the accrediting agency and by reviewing their website often.  In addition, seek out informational sessions that relate to accreditation preparation when attending national conferences. Keep current in the professional field!

Hot Tip:  Perform a needs assessment on current course objectives and the alignment to professional standards.  In order to design courses aligned to the standards, a gap analysis of all objectives was performed.  This collaborative activity provided a means to review current course objectives to determine the need for revisions.  Syllabi were also revised to include authentic activities and assessments designed to prepare leaders for the work of school administration.  Rubrics were created and used to collect and organize data regarding candidate performance.

Hot Tip:  Continue the work of evaluation and program improvement.  Interpretation and analysis of the data occur periodically.  Due to these discussions, assessment rubrics have been revised and activities have been added to provide a more enhanced leadership preparation program.  The department has a structure in place to emphasize the curriculum of our courses (what), the instructional methods (how), and the assessment of and for learning.

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