Darling-Hammond and other researchers have demonstrated the link between powerful
teaching and pre-service programs where candidates learn about subject matter, curriculum,
the links between knowledge and prior learning, the importance of student goals, the
skills that students need to learn, the intensive scaffolding needed to support student
learning, student and teacher behaviours, and the importance of feedback from mentors,
colleagues and friends.
The Ontario College of Teachers is developing an accreditation process for pre-service
teacher education that is based on findings like these. Like other self-regulating
professions, teachers accredit faculties to make sure their programs support standards of
practice for the profession, to assist in improving programs and to provide public
Last year, the College established a three-year pilot project to initially accredit
Ontarios 11 faculties of education. The first three have gone through the process
and on June 12, the Colleges Accreditation Committee considered reports from its
panels and made its initial accreditation awards to Laurentian, Nipissing and Queens
THE PILOT PROJECT
In the first part of the project, the Accreditation Committee worked with two
sub-committees that included representatives from the Ontario Association of Deans of
Education, as well as College members and staff, to develop a process and criteria for
initial accreditation. They sent out drafts of these guidelines to the three faculties for
their review and suggestions. The results of this collaboration were the guidelines
outlined in the Colleges Initial Accreditation Handbook.
The Accreditation Committee identified the documents required to show that the programs
in a faculty of education met the criteria for initial accreditation courses,
registration information, admission and graduation criteria, university and faculty
policies, financial information, curriculum vitae of faculty members, technology
facilities, partnerships with the community and other institutions, practicum agreements
and details and a cohesive conceptual framework for the program.
At the heart of the process along with the faculties at the three universities
were the members of the accreditation panels. Each panel had up to five
participants one nominated by the university under review, one from the College
membership and members of the Colleges Accreditation Committee or Council.
The panel for the Laurentian program had Laurentian nominee Lorraine Dionne-Laurin,
formerly of the Sudbury Catholic District School Board; College member Jean Grisé of
Conseil scolaire de district catholique des Grandes Rivières in New Liskeard, and Council
members Paul Charron, Michel Gravelle and Marilyn Laframboise.
The Nipissing University panel members were Avis Glaze of the York Region District
School Board formerly a commissioner with the Royal Commission on Learning
as Nipissings nominee; College member Ron Leeking of the Kawartha Pine Ridge
District School Board, and Accreditation Committee members Donna Marie Kennedy, Cecilia
Reynolds and Frances Thorne.
The Queens panel was comprised of Callista Markotich of the Algonquin and
Lakeshore Catholic District School Board as the Queens nominee; Martha Dutrizac from
the London Catholic District School Board as the Colleges external member, and
Accreditation Committee members Larry Capstick and Frances Thorne.
GOING ON SITE
In March, the members of all three panels participated in training sessions at the
College and later read the documents submitted by the faculty of education. Then they
spent five days on site.
In each case, the panel sequestered itself beginning on Sunday to review the documents
and design questions for the next days interviews. Among those to be interviewed
were the dean, associate dean, president or principal, vice-president academic, faculty
members, registrar, librarian, practicum office personnel, teacher candidates, associate
teachers, administrators from co-operating school districts, alumni, members of teacher
advisory committees and more.
The next day included tours of the faculty and a general orientation to the
universitys facilities. The faculties had also set up a room to showcase teacher
candidates performances and materials for the on-site review panel. Portfolios,
action research projects, videotapes of sample lessons, practicum debriefings, teacher
candidates projects and models, curricula, CD ROMs, web site information and other
artifacts were available for the panel members.
Interview schedules began early and ran late. Panelists spent their evenings reviewing
the days findings and observations and preparing questions for the next days
By Wednesday evening, the panel had finished its interviews. The plan was that the
panels report and recommendation be completed before any member of the panel left on
Thursday. The panels worked late into the night reaching consensus as they collaborated to
write the report.
Earlier, the College had been advised that writing the report on site would not allow
for thoughtful reflection. That advice proved true. By Thursday afternoon, each of the
panels, on its own, had decided that the draft of the report would have to suffice for the
moment and the group would reassemble in two weeks to refine the report.
The panels were responsible for collecting information and making observations about
the program. Based on what they learned, they made recommendations for the faculty to
consider and address before the next accreditation round.
The panels research, interviews, and observations formed the basis of its
accreditation award recommendation to the Accreditation Committee, which considered the
reports on June 12 and voted to grant initial accreditation to Queens and Nipissing
and initial accreditation, with conditions, to Laurentian.
LESSONS FOR ROUND 2
The next steps in the initial accreditation process involve applying the lessons
learned from the first round. An external evaluator, Dany Laveault of the University of
Ottawa, conducted a review of the process. His recommendations, as well as comments and
suggestions from stakeholders who responded to the Colleges request for input, are
included in the second edition of The Initial Accreditation Handbook. Another major
addition to the handbook will be the draft Standards of Practice for the Teaching
Profession, July 1998, developed by the Colleges Standards of Practice and Education
During the summer, the next four programs due to go through the process the
University of Ottawa (French and English), the University of Windsor and York University
began working with the College to prepare for their reviews. By the end of the
third year, all 11 faculties will have gone through the process of initial accreditation.
In The Right To Learn (1997), Darling-Hammond says, "[Professions] use strategies
like accreditation of professional schools and peer review within practice sites as means
to review, critique and improve practice."
This pilot project in accreditation of faculties of education is a major step toward
the ultimate goal of improving student achievement by supporting teacher preparation.
Rick Chambers, Lise Presseault and Laura Sheehan are program officers in the
Accreditation Unit of the Ontario College of Teachers.