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Teacher quality matters when it comes to student achievement. However, the fact that there are no nationally mandated standards as to how teachers should be prepared has led to wide variations in the quality of teacher education programs. It was in response to this situation that the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) was established. The purpose of this qualitative participant observational study was to present how teacher educators perceive the effect of complying with NCATE standards on teacher preparation programs and on their own teaching practices. Eight purposefully selected faculty members of a university-based teacher preparation program participated in the study. The findings are presented in a narrative form using direct quotations of responses the participants gave to questions asked during confidential interviews. Results of the interviews were analyzed and emergent themes were identified. The findings were corroborated through analysis of related documents. Positive effects of having to meet NCATE standards included a belief that the unit's image and reputation were enhanced. Other perceived benefits included improvements in the unit's assessment system and better communications among the faculty. However, several teacher educators felt that the amount of money, time and energy expended on the NCATE process outweighed the benefits. Seven of the eight participants referred to the process as something which had to be done "for NCATE" rather than perceiving the process as a transformative change initiative designed to enhance teacher preparation and thereby improve student learning. One conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that if NCATE fails to be seen as aligning with the personal ethics and belief structure of teacher educators and with those of K-12 teachers, NCATE's effect on teacher education programs will continue to be seen as "procedural" and not as having a meaningful effect or of creating lasting change. Another conclusion is that teacher educators generally were unlikely to change their own teaching styles or practices in any meaningful way in response to NCATE standards, even in the face of a state mandate to implement those standards.


A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy Capella University January 2010.



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