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Meeting of the Board of Regents | March 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009 - 8:30am

sed seal                                                                                                 











Johanna Duncan-Poitier




Continuation of Regents Accreditation of Teacher Education Programs at Wells College



February 27, 2009


Goals 1, 2 and 3







Issue for Decision


              Should the Board of Regents continue the accreditation of the teacher education programs at Wells College?


Reason(s) for Consideration


Required by State regulation.


Proposed Handling


The question will come before the Higher Education Committee at its March 2009 meeting, where it will be voted on and action taken.  It will then come before the full Board at its March 2009 meeting for final action.


Procedural History


The Board of Regents adopted a new teaching policy, "Teaching to Higher Standards:  New York's Commitment," in 1998.  As a result of that policy, in 1999 the Board adopted section 52.21(b)(2)(iv)(c)(1) of the Commissioner’s Regulations, which requires New York State teacher education programs to become accredited by an acceptable accrediting organization. 


Wells College selected Regents Accreditation of Teacher Education (RATE) and was granted accreditation of the College’s teacher education programs identified in Appendix A, for seven years, effective March 16, 2005, with the condition that a focused site visit be conducted before March 14, 2008, to address the issues cited by the State Professional Standards and Practices Board of Teaching (PSPB).


Background Information


Wells College is one of the oldest liberal arts colleges in the United States.  Founded in 1868 by Henry Wells in Aurora, Cayuga County, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, Wells College began as an institution committed to preparing women to be active members of the world community through a comprehensive program of liberal and experiential education.  The College was incorporated by an act of the Legislature in March 1868.  In September 1969, the charter was amended to authorize the admission of men.  In fall 2004, the College offered admissions to men and in academic year 2007-2008, 23 percent of the student body were men.  The mission of Wells College is to educate students to think critically, reason wisely, and act humanely as they cultivate meaningful lives. 


Wells offers Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) programs in the discipline areas of the Biological Sciences, the Fine Arts, the Humanities, the Physical Sciences, and the Social Sciences.  In 2001-02, it conferred 93 B.A. degrees.  The majority of them were in English Language and Literatures/Letters, Psychology, the Social Sciences and History. 


In addition to field experiences and student teaching, the College provides candidates with opportunities to connect to the real world through experiential learning, including internships and study abroad, as well as research and community service experiences.  The candidates may complete internships near their home or explore diverse settings such as New York City, Hawaii, or schools for Navajo children.  The Navajo experience involved ten Wells candidates who worked with Navajo children at the Tuba City Boarding School in Tuba City, Arizona.


In the fall of 2007, Wells College served 541 undergraduate students.  Of these, 71 were enrolled in the education program - 2 American Indian, 1 Asian, 1 African-American, 2 Hispanic, 12 unknown and 53 Caucasian.  Currently there are 3.5 full-time faculty members and 2 adjunct professors.


The purpose of the focused site visit was to: 


  • review evidence and verify that sufficient progress had been made towards addressing areas for improvement identified in the Draft Compliance Review Report; 


  • evaluate the development and implementation of the five stipulations identified by the Subcommittee of the Professional Standards and Practices Board, which were  endorsed by the Regents in its March 2005 vote; and


  • determine the appropriateness of the continuation of RATE accreditation for the full seven years, ending on March 14, 2012.


Concerns centered on program coherence related to baccalaureate programs requiring as many as 140 credits; the development of a formal assessment system; progress in hiring sufficient qualified full-time faculty; and a flexible strategic plan that responds to internal and external changes and provides guidance for resource allocations to support teacher education programs. 


Team’s Findings


              The focused site visit took place on March 2-4, 2008. The focused site visit team consisted of three peer reviewers and one staff person. As identified in Appendix B, the Team determined that three of the five Board of Regents stipulations were satisfied and that substantial progress had been made on the remaining two.  Nine out of 18 areas for improvement, across 6 standards, were satisfied.  Substantial progress had been made on the remaining areas for improvement.  These remaining areas for improvement are connected to the outcomes related to the developed assessment system and adequate faculty resources, across 4 standards.  


Staff Recommendation to the Professional Standards and Practices Board


Based on the Team’s findings and the College’s response, staff recommended that accreditation be continued until March 14, 2012, with the condition that the annual reports demonstrate that the College: 


  • sustains compliance with Section 52.21(b)(2)(i)(h) of the Commissioner’s Regulations regarding adequacy of qualified full-time education faculty; 


  • assessment plan continues to evolve into effective implementation and curriculum improvements;


  • records of secondary education candidates’ field experience and student teaching confirm ongoing placements in high-need schools; and


  • faculty office space and technology resources continue to be adequate in addressing program needs. 


Although the Division of Education has made considerable progress in all these areas, sustainability and, in some cases, confirmation, necessitate ongoing review.   


Professional Standards and Practices Board Recommendation


On January 8, 2009, the Higher Education Subcommittee of the State Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching met to consider the continuation of accreditation of the College’s teacher education programs. The Subcommittee reviewed the Focused Site Visit Review Report (comprised of the Draft Focused Site Visit Review Report, the College’s October 6, 2008 response, and the Department’s summary and preliminary recommendation for accreditation action). The Subcommittee’s concerns reflect staff recommendations.  Following review and discussion of the focused site visit review report on the teacher education programs, on the basis of the record before it, the Board recommended to the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Education that accreditation be continued until March 14, 2012, with the condition that the College’s annual reports address all the areas for improvement and demonstrate sustainability, which include, but are not limited, to the following: 


  • adequacy of qualified full-time education faculty;
  • that the assessment plan continues to evolve into effective implementation and use of data for program improvement; 
  • ongoing field experiences/student teaching placements in high-needs schools;  and
  • attention to the adequacy of resources to support the teacher education programs. 




Consistent with the recommendations of the Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching and the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Education, it is recommended that the Board of Regents continue accreditation of the teacher education programs offered by Wells College for a period beginning immediately and ending on March 14, 2012, with the condition that the annual reports confirm satisfactory progress in all areas for improvement and demonstrate sustainability, which include, but are not limited to 1) adequacy of faculty; 2) an effective systematic assessment system that informs program improvements; 3) field experiences in high-need schools; and 4) adequate resources to support the teacher education programs. 



Appendix A


The teacher preparation programs offered at the College under the initial RATE review are as follows:   


Department: Elementary and Secondary Education

Program Title

Degree Award

Initial Certification Area(s)

Secondary and Dual Certificate Programs

Biological & Chemical Science: Biology


Biology 7-12

Biological & Chemical Science: Chemistry


Chemistry 7-12



English 7-12 & Childhood 1-6

Foreign Language, Literature & Culture


French 7-12, German 7-12, Spanish 7-12, & Childhood 1-6



Social Studies 7-12 & Childhood 1-6

Mathematical & Physical Science: Physics


Physics 7-12 & Childhood 1-6

Mathematical & Physical Science: Mathematics


Mathematics 7-12 & Childhood 1-6

Childhood Certificate Programs

International Studies


Childhood 1-6

Individualized Major


Childhood 1-6

American Studies


Childhood 1-6

Mathematical & Physical Science: Computer Science


Childhood 1-6

Women’s Studies


Childhood 1-6

Study of Religion


Childhood 1-6

Economics & Management


Childhood 1-6

Sociology and Anthropology


Childhood 1-6

Public Affairs: Ethics, Politics & Social Policy


Childhood 1-6



Childhood 1-6



Appendix B   Wells College Stipulations and Areas for Improvement


Stipulations/Areas for Improvement

Findings of Focused Visit Team


Making Progress2

Not Satisfied3

Board of Regents Stipulations

  • The development of a written plan for program coherence that explains how each program is structured;




  • Evidence that articulation agreements and internal discussions have addressed the area for improvement, identified by the site visit team, that candidates often need more than four years to complete a curriculum that encompasses 140 credits or more;





  • The development and implementation of a formal data collection and assessment system that links candidates’ progress with program goals and includes formal measurement taken after program completion and graduation;




  • Continuing progress in hiring sufficient qualified, full-time faculty to teach, supervise, assess candidate performance, and review and develop teacher education curriculum for each field of certification;






  • Development and implementation of a flexible, realistic plan that responds to and accommodates changes in the internal and external environment and provides guidance and direction for resource enhancement and allocation to support the teacher education programs in achieving their goals and objectives





Areas For Improvement Cited in Compliance Review Report

(1) Commitment and Vision

  • The Program needs to more consistently align its mission, commitment, and vision to well-articulated, expected goals and outcomes in each syllabus, resulting in a more formalized framework for program assessment.




(2) Philosophy, purposes, and objectives

  • The restructuring of the 40 to 46 credit Education minor for teacher education candidates to bring the undergraduate degree closer to 120 credits, rather than the approximately 140 credit requirements that were evident during the accreditation visit. 





(3) Standards for program registration

  • Need for qualified full-time faculty with doctoral degrees, scholarship, and experience in teacher preparation and programmatic curriculum development;





  • The College needs to review the education programs and insure they provide a coherent course of study that meets State and professional standards in teacher education.  The education minor needs to be modified in order for teacher education program candidates to be able to complete their degrees and certification requirements in four years and to bring the 140+ credits required for the undergraduate degree with initial teacher certification into compliance with the more acceptable 120+ credits generally expected for the baccalaureate degree;




  • Plans for strengthening and enhancing diverse field experiences need to materialize;




  • Need for formal relationships with high-need schools;




  • Increased efforts to diversify faculty and candidates in the education programs; and




  • Need to develop and implement a system for assessing teacher education program effectiveness.




  • Mentor teachers have a vital role in the development of Wells College subject area methodology for secondary certification candidates, but the mentor teacher selection criteria and process have not been formalized.  Team observations indicate that there is a definite relationship between cooperating teachers and the Wells education staff.  The administrations at the College and the school districts need to formalize the process and explore additional collaborations.




(4) Teaching effectiveness of graduates

  • There is no system in place for data collection from school administrators who have hired Wells College teacher education graduates to assess program effectiveness and teacher preparation.




  • There is no formal system to track graduates over an extended period to collect data on their teaching effectiveness and impact on student learning.




(5) Assessment of candidate achievement

  • Job placement tracking should be more systematic. Such a link could also provide an informal support system for new teachers.




(6) Resources

  • The education program needs additional full-time faculty. Office space for these faculty members also needs to be considered.




  • Additional faculty support will allow the Education Program Director (or one of the new faculty members) to integrate information/instructional technology into the education program.




  • The College needs a flexible, realistic plan that responds to and accommodates changes in the internal and external environment and provides guidance and direction for resource enhancement and allocation.




  • The College must add to the library’s education collection to support the education programs.




(7) Support Services

  • The College is urged to update and finalize its written policies and codify its practices on student access to accommodations by the end of 2003-04 to assure consistent implementation of services to students with disabilities.




  •  References to “approved programs” should be changed to “registered programs.”






1This concern has been satisfied.

2Progress is being made toward addressing this concern.

3This concern is not satisfied.