In 1990, the International Society for Technology (ISTE) affiliated with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). NCATE is the only body officially sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of education. ISTE has developed guidelines for programs in computer education and technology specialty areas that have been approved by NCATE for use in evaluating professional education units.
ISTE's association with NCATE has already resulted in a significant impact on the way computer and technology education is viewed in the United States. Educators are now reporting instances where the combined power of the ISTE standards and NCATE recognition have contributed to successful efforts to develop programs and promote change within the educational structure.
In this article, the NCATE accreditation process is explored, case studies of successes linked to these standards are presented, and future efforts are identified.
* NCATE's Role
NCATE provides standards for the evaluation of professional education units (entire colleges or education departments) to determine the overall quality of all teacher preparation programs within the institution. In addition, NCATE relies on "learned societies," to develop standards for specialty areas within the professional unit.
Institutions seeking NCATE accreditation must document overall quality and must further prepare specialty-area folios that address standards developed by the affiliated societies and approved by NCATE. Accreditation is given for the entire professional unit and not separate programs within the unit. Individuals cannot submit a specialty program to NCATE unless the entire unit is seeking accreditation.
* ISTE Guidelines for Ed. Tech.
ISTE has developed guidelines for four programs within the educational computing and technology specialty area:
* Basic Computer/Technology Literacy Endorsement Programs, for teachers of computer literacy or applications courses;
* Advanced Educational Computing and Technology Master's Program, for computer coordinators with emphasis on leadership roles;
* Secondary Computer Science Education Endorsement Program, for teachers who will add computer science as an additional teaching field to an existing credential; and
* Secondary Computer Science Education Bachelor's Degree Program, for teachers seeking primary certification in computer science.
* The first two programs were approved by NCATE in September, 1991.[2,3] The last two were adopted in October of 1992.
At the core of the ISTE programs is a set of foundation skills for all teachers. These skills are fundamental and must also be addressed by those submitting programs within the ISTE specialty areas. While not imposed on the unit-at-large or other specialties, the skills do represent sound, research-based fundamentals reflecting the level of preparation needed for all teachers to function effectively in the technology-enriched schools of the future. Models for the global community, the skills have quickly been recognized as "de facto" standards by educational leaders worldwide.
* Benefits of Formal Status
Through recognition by NCATE, an organization acknowledged as the leader in teacher-preparation standards and policy, ISTE has formalized the discipline of educational computing and technology within the field of education. Far-reaching implications include:
* Formal Disciplines Defined - Disciplines such as educational computing and computer science education are defined and distinguished formally within the NCATE framework.
* Mark of Professionalism - The quality control of accreditation is a part of most professions. These standards provide much-needed professional status recognition to many individuals and programs.
* Curriculum/Program Enhancements - Curriculum guidelines are used to evaluate existing teacher preparation programs, to promote changes and enhancements in programs, and to encourage development of new programs. …