Why College Accreditation Still Matters
College accreditation is a review process that colleges and universities undergo to determine whether an institution or specific program meets or exceeds preset educational standards. Attending accredited colleges ensures that you will receive a quality teacher education that will advance your career and positively impact the education of your future students. And attending an unaccredited college can cause problems for you when you seek teacher certification or are ready to start your teaching career.
Types of Accredited Colleges & Programs
Teacher education programs can apply for either regional or national accreditation. Credits earned from regionally accredited colleges can often transfer to graduate programs anywhere in the country, while credits earned from nationally accredited colleges may not be accepted at all regionally accredited graduate programs. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes both regional and national accreditation agencies for granting financial aid.
National Accrediting Bodies
Accreditation boards are private, nongovernmental agencies established as impartial third parties to objectively review educational institutions and programs. Accreditation organizations provide the general public with a list of programs and institutions that meet their high-quality standards to become members. Accredited colleges will also tell you which organization accredited them when you request information.
Benefits of Attending Accredited Colleges
An accreditation review is a process that a school or program can voluntarily apply for in order to see how they compare with other institutions and find areas where they can improve. The institution or program becomes a member of the accrediting agency if they pass the review. Graduation from an accredited college program may be required to use your teaching certificate in certain states. Not all programs have gone through the expensive and time-consuming review process, but there are several notable advantages that attending an accredited college can offer:
- Financial Aid – Attending an accredited education school opens the gateway for you to participate in federally funded and state entitlement programs. Only accredited college programs that are recognized by the US Department of Education can offer state and federal financial aid.
- Transfer of Credits – When you graduate from an accredited college, you qualify to attend other accredited colleges to pursue advanced studies, including master’s degree and doctoral programs. Only credits earned from an accredited education school will transfer to another accredited college.
- Employment – Graduating from an accredited college program can also make you more competitive in the job market; employers prefer to hire teachers who graduated from accredited teaching programs because these employees were trained under nationally established standards for teaching education.
Commonly Recognized Accrediting Agencies
Over 600 teacher preparation school programs are currently accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). NCATE evaluates a school’s education department to make sure it meets rigorous standards set by teachers, teacher educators and professional organizations across the nation. In order to receive accreditation from TEAC, an education department must provide evidence that their program produces competent educators who possess effective teaching skills. While the standards are very similar to NCATE, the review process allows for more flexibility and focuses on evidence presented by the school that best represents the program’s educational philosophy.