Belmont University’s Department of Education recently received a continuance of its accreditation under the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards, an achievement the Department has owned for more than 20 years. NCATE’s performance-based accreditation system for teacher preparation ensures that teacher candidates are prepared to make a difference in P-12 student learning.
Based off a six standard scale, educator preparation programs are evaluated in areas including professional disposition, assessment systems, field experiences, diversity, faculty qualification and resources, among others. Belmont’s Department excelled at all listed criteria, earning an unprecedented mark of no citations or areas of improvement.
With a recent nod towards what Chair and Professor of Education Mark Hogan calls “feet in the streets” education, the Department has launched education programming that is committed to advocacy for children, their families and the profession. All education students spend time each semester in the field, including a placement as early as their first semester.
Hogan said the program is committed to putting students in the field early on in their time at Belmont because of what it does for the student, as well as the service to the community. “We seek to extend the Belmont ethos into the city of Nashville,” he said. “We start by embedding all of our education courses within school sites and continue by providing consultation, service and assistance as faculty. One can be focused on the ‘head knowledge’ of education, but with the Belmont heart, we engage as a department and university as the ‘feet in the streets’ of Nashville.”
Looking forward, the Department of Education will use this mentality to continue to prepare future educators for the field. With additional programs in transformational literacy, transition programs for adult learners and veterans and STEM initiatives that put a new emphasis on the arts, Hogan said Education at Belmont will continue to allow students to have more time in diverse classroom settings, an aspect that he believes contributes to the program’s accolades.
In addition to the Department’s re-accreditation, The 2014 Tennessee Department of Education Report Card on the Effectiveness of Teaching Training Programs cited that beginning teachers who graduated from Belmont tend to be more effective than their peers in the 4th-8th grade TCAP composite and social studies. Hogan would chalk this up to the curriculum’s immediate classroom placements.
“We find that our candidates are not only successful from the starting gate, but stay in the field longer,” Hogan said. “I believe this speaks to the quality that comes from field experiences being so early on in the program.”