Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee


Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Regents Accreditation of Teacher Education Recommendation of Accreditation Action: Sarah Lawrence College


December 16, 2005


Goals 1, 2, and 3







Issue for Decision


Sarah Lawrence College has applied for Regents accreditation of its teacher education program.  Should the Board of Regents accredit this program?


Reason for Consideration


Required by State regulation.

Proposed Handling


The question will come before the Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee at its January 2006 meeting, where it will be voted on and action taken.  It will then come before the full Board at its January 2006 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 by December 31, 2006.





Background Information


Sarah Lawrence College has applied for accreditation of its teacher education program by Regents Accreditation of Teacher Education (RATE).  The college offers one teacher education program, the “Art of Teaching.”  The program leads to the Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) degree and prepares candidates for New York State certification in Early Childhood Education and/or Childhood Education.


Sarah Lawrence College is a small, independent, coeducational institution located in Bronxville, 15 miles north of midtown Manhattan.  It received a provisional charter from the Board of Regents in 1926 as a women’s college.  The Board made the charter absolute in 1931, and in 1947 the charter was amended to allow the college to enroll men and women.  The College’s 1,292 undergraduate students and over 300 graduate students come from nearly every state and from 27 countries.


The College is founded on a broad view of education.  It has sought to integrate “reason and imagination, subject matter and personal experience, intellectual play and the disciplined pursuit of ideas, and established curriculum and the individual’s need to shape her/his own education."  The Art of Teaching program enrolls about 30 candidates annually and houses 5 full-time faculty, along with part-time faculty as appropriate.  At the time of the accreditation visit, the program consisted of 24 candidates, with one-third of those from underrepresented minorities.


The program centers on a close collaboration between individual faculty members and candidates.  Classes are offered as small seminars that emphasize “reflective teaching, observation of children’s learning, documentation and assessment, and multicultural and multiethnic perspectives.”  As described by the College, the Art of Teaching program seeks to provide candidates a solid philosophical framework and a strong background in current thinking about educational theory and practice, as well as extensive opportunities for classroom research and experience.  The College believes that individual growth also serves a social purpose  - that education must lead back to the community. Between 2000-2001 and 2002-2003, Sarah Lawrence College candidates recorded pass rates ranging between 93 and 100 percent on the State teacher certification exams.


A RATE team visited Sarah Lawrence College in November 2004 to conduct an on-site review of evidence, including documents in the exhibit room and interviews with College and school-based faculty and administrators, candidates, and alumni.  The Art of Teaching program is aligned with the institution’s mission and philosophy statements, and faculty model teaching as a life’s work. Field experiences and student teaching placements are carefully chosen to expose candidates to a range of settings; at least one of the two student teaching placements must be in a high-need school.  Issues of diversity - as they impact on education and on society - are integral to coursework throughout the program. 



The program collaborates with a number of area schools.  For student teaching placements, two examples are Central Park East 1 in the New York City School District and the Patricia DiChiaro School PS 8 in the Yonkers School District (named by the Department in 2002 as the most improved elementary school in New York State). Likewise, the College encourages public school teachers to participate in programs sponsored or cosponsored by the Art of Teaching program, such as the Early Childhood Center (laboratory school), the Child Development Institute, the Empowering Teachers Program (a continuing education forum for teachers), and more. 


The RATE team identified areas for improvement on six standards, with key areas relating to Standard 3d (Program Curriculum), Standard 4 (Teaching Effectiveness of Graduates), Standard 5 (Assessment of Candidate Achievement), and Standard 6 (Resources).  Overall, however, the team found that the Art of Teaching program has crafted a high-quality learning experience that complies with standards defined in Regents Rules, Subpart 4-2.  Given the institution's size, relationships tend to be informal, and as a result the areas for improvement generally reflect the need for the institution to implement more systematic assessment and documentation systems.


As is done with all RATE accreditation visits, the Department shared its draft report of its findings with the institution, received the institution's comments on the draft, and then prepared the final compliance review report for consideration by the Higher Education Subcommittee of the Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching (PSPB).  That report, the institution's self study, and related materials are available in the Regents Office.


In its response to the compliance review report, the College accepted all six areas for improvement and indicated how each is being addressed.  The College's response is summarized in the attached Summary of the Application for Accreditation.  At its November 17, 2005 meeting, the Higher Education Subcommittee of the PSPB recommended that the Art of Teaching program offered by Sarah Lawrence College be accredited for a period of seven years, with the following conditions:


·        Continued monitoring of progress toward addressing all areas for improvement as identified in the Compliance Review Report, including continued enhancement of faculty qualifications, through submission of annual reports, and

·        Evidence of compliance with regulatory faculty teaching loads by the time of submission of the first annual report.




It is recommended that the Board of Regents accredit the teacher education program offered by Sarah Lawrence College, as listed in the attached Summary of the Application for Accreditation and including the stipulations made by the Higher Education Subcommittee of the Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching, effective January 10, 2006, for a period beginning immediately and ending on January 9, 2013.

Sarah Lawrence College


Summary of the Application for Accreditation of Teacher Education Programs and Department’s Preliminary Recommendation on Accreditation Action


Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, Westchester County, New York, has applied for accreditation of its programs of study leading to teacher certification under the Regents Accreditation of Teacher Education (RATE).


Preliminary Recommendation for Accreditation Action:                   


Accreditation, with term and conditions, if any, to be recommended by the Higher Education Subcommittee of the New York State Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching.


Teacher Education Programs to Be Accredited:


Sarah Lawrence College offers one teacher education program, the Art of Teaching program.  This program leads to the Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) degree and New York State certification in Early Childhood Education and Childhood Education.


The preparation of teacher candidates at Sarah Lawrence falls under the purview of the Dean of Graduate Studies.  Enrollment in the Teacher Education program in 2004-2005 included 24 graduate students, with one-third from underrepresented minorities.


In 2004-2005 there were five full-time graduate program faculty members teaching in the program.  One faculty member was tenured and one was tenure-track.  Each committed 25 percent time to the program.  The remaining three faculty were not on a tenure track; two were committed 100 percent to the program, and one was committed 75 percent.  Three of the full-time faculty do not hold a terminal degree in their field.  There were also three adjunct faculty teaching in the program.  One of these does not hold a terminal degree.  One full-time graduate faculty member’s schedule exceeds the nine-semester hour limit for graduate teaching load.  There is one male faculty member teaching in the program.


The Art of Teaching program is committed to a vision of candidates’ preparation for certification that links their teaching experiences in schools with their work in the graduate courses.


Approximately 49 candidates took the NYSTCE exams between 2000-2001 and 2002-2003, with a pass rate between 93 and 100 percent.


Summary of Findings and Institutional Response:


Following a review of the institution’s Self-Study, a RATE site visit team visited Sarah Lawrence College in November 2004.  The team conducted an on-site review of evidence, including documents in the exhibit room and interviews with College and school-based faculty, administrators, candidates, and alumni.  It was the team’s overall assessment that the College is in compliance with the standards found in Regents Rules, Subpart 4-2.   However, the team identified 6 areas for improvement on 6 standards.  The key Areas for Improvement focus on Standard 3, Curriculum; Standard 4:  Teaching Effectiveness of Graduates, faculty, and curriculum; Standard 4, Assessment of Candidate Achievement; and Standard 6, Resources.


In addition to the Areas for Improvement cited in the Draft Compliance Review Report, staff notes the following team findings that were not identified as Areas for Improvement.


1.                                   Given the size of the institution, it appears that there is a great deal of informal exchange that has not been documented and shared among the faculties.  The dialogue has not been expanded beyond the identified committee members.  p. 5


2.                                   The (faculty) evaluation process is very informal and not specifically documented.   p. 8


3.                                   Informal networking makes it difficult for an outside observer to document the effectiveness of program assessment and improvement.  p. 15


4.                                   Professional development of teacher candidates in teaching science needs to be part of teacher preparation.  p. 21   


Standard 3: Program Curriculum


The Art of Teaching program meets, and in many cases exceeds, the standards of a quality teacher education program.  The concern is the lack of a systematic, efficient method of documenting candidate mastery of effective teaching skills.  An important next step is developing documentation systems and allocating the necessary resources for implementation. In the area of curriculum, the following are examples of appropriate areas for the documentation system to capture:



Standards 4: Effectiveness of Graduates 


A systematic assessment and documentation system (as indicated above for Standard 3d) needs to be developed to provide consistent evidence of graduates’ effectiveness as teachers, including student learning, which informs possibilities for program improvement.


Standard 5: Assessment of Candidate Achievement


Please refer to Standard 3d and Standard 4 regarding the need for a systematic assessment system to document graduate teaching effectiveness, including student learning, also applicable to Standard 5 – Assessment of Candidate Achievement.  


Standard 6: Resources


Candidates in the program could benefit from a more centralized curriculum library, resources, and systematic updating of the education collection.    


In order to prepare candidates to teach to the State Learning Standards in the sciences, access to science labs must be demonstrated.


Standard 8: Advertising


The Art of Teaching program is encouraged to complete and utilize its promotional brochure as soon as possible.


Standard 9: Candidate Complaints


The institution needs to include in its Student Handbook and Calendar and on the College’s Web site the complaint or grievance and appeal procedures for issues and allegations a student might raise against faculty or administrators, other than for sexual harassment.


Standard Summary


Standard #


Met with Areas

for Improvement*


1.  Commitment and Vision




2.  Philosophy, purpose  and objectives




3.  a.,b.,c., and d.


X – 1


3a. Administration




3b. Collaboration




3c.  Faculty




3d. Curriculum


X – 1


4.   Teaching Effectiveness of   Graduates


X - 1


Assessment of Candidate achievement


X - 1


5.      Resources


X - 2


6.      Support Services




7.      Advertising


X - 1



In its response, the College accepted all 6 Areas for Improvement and indicated how each is being addressed.  Annual reports submitted to the Office of College and University Evaluation will include evidence of satisfactory progress in each of the standards identified as requiring improvements.


Table 4. Sarah Lawrence College Candidates’ Pass Rates on New York State Teacher Certification Examinations for the Last Five Years







# Taking

% Passing

# Taking

% Passing

# Taking

% Passing

2000 - 2001









2001 – 2002







2002 – 2003









 * Pass rates are not calculated when there are fewer than 10 program completers.


In its response, the College accepted all 6 areas of improvement and indicated how it will address each item.   The College:  


1.                                            has hired a consultant and engaged the services of one of its faculty to create a broader and more efficient system of assessment and documentation regarding the Art of Teaching programs. 


2.                                            is pursuing the formalization of the evaluation process for instructors and the courses in the program.


3.                                            will utilize the expertise of a consultant to develop descriptors and processes for documenting candidate coursework, field placements, and student teaching


4.                                            has engaged a part-time faculty member to document the integration of technology into the program and to document the ability of candidates to use and apply technology.


5.                           intends to digitalize the complex longitudinal data it keeps for faculty, candidates, and graduates to gain insight into the effectiveness of the program and to make improvements.


6.                           will make more evident how the candidates are prepared to teach to the NYS Learning Standards, including the teaching and learning of the natural sciences and social studies.


7.                           will strive to show how field experiences and student teaching enable connections between theory and practice, documenting the observations and evaluations of candidates in the field.


8.                           intends to aggregate the data gathered to assist in gaining insight into the breadth of experience across graduates and the conditions of teaching.


9.                           is in the process of purchasing, organizing, and displaying elementary science equipment for course and curriculum planning.


10.                        has printed the promotional brochure in response to the area for improvement in Standard 8. 


plans on having the grievance procedure on the website by November 1, 2005.