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Unanimous Vote Leads to Full Reauthorization of UNC Educator Preparation Programs

McKee Hall

May 26, 2021

Written by Deanna Herbert

After three years of working with the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), the Colorado State Board of Education voted unanimously on May 12 to fully reauthorize UNC’s Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education programs.  

According to Robyn Hess, Ph.D., interim dean of UNC's College of Education and Behavioral Sciences (CEBS), faculty and staff in UNC’s educator preparation programs stepped up to complete numerous standards matrices, revise and file countless syllabi and complete a variety of additional tasks required as part of the state’s reauthorization process. 

Robyn Hess“We are proud that all 34 UNC educator preparation programs are now fully authorized by the state of Colorado,” Hess said. “This was a team effort in CEBS and across the other colleges at UNC that house educator preparation programs. I appreciate the vast number of hours dedicated towards this effort in order to achieve this successful result.”  

UNC has been preparing aspiring educators for the classroom for over one hundred years. As a state legislatively designated institution for education, there are three schools and five departments, offering more than forty academic programs to around 3,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

Ginny Huang“UNC has historically been the institution that schools turn to for their needs for educators in a variety of fields across the country,” said Jingzi Huang, Ph.D., associate dean and director of the School of Teacher Education. “The faculty in education at UNC, having students as their priority, always work hard to ensure quality of the education programs while continuing their scholarly work to advance the field. The full reauthorization of all the programs from the state will not change our faculty’s desire to continue their effort to address the ever-changing needs from the reality of the K-12 classrooms. Developing future teachers for a more just and equitable environment for all children’s success remains our goal and focus.”

CDHE and CDE require all post-secondary educator preparation programs in the state to go through a reauthorization process every five years. In 2018, a few weeks prior to the first scheduled site visit in the 2018-19 cycle, CDE asked UNC to be the first institution to undergo an additional evaluation related to how higher education programs prepare teacher candidates to teach reading. The new evaluation was prompted in part by the fact that reading proficiency rates for Colorado’s kindergarten through third graders have not shown great improvements since the passing of theColorado Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act (READ Act)in 2012. A key initiative for CDE, the legislation provided the guiding philosophy, structure and resources to get children reading at grade level by the time they enter the fourth grade. Because this was the first time the new evaluation was implemented, it took time to overcome hurdles and fine tune the process. 

Corey Pierce“Reauthorization of the educator preparation programs is a massive undertaking under normal circumstances,” said Corey Pierce, director of Special Education and CEBS’s lead for this reauthorization effort. “UNC has the most and the largest educator preparation programs in Colorado, so the time, energy and materials to complete a successful reauthorization is incredible.” 

All of UNC’s education preparation programs were approved after the 2018-19 site visit, except the content area of reading. CDE needed additional time and materials to review the reading content in three programs — Elementary Education, Early Childhood Education and Special Education. The Special Education program was approved before the next site visit in 2019. The remaining two programs were again conditionally reauthorized in 2019-20 for further review. To address the requirement by CDE, a School of Teacher Education Literacy Committee was established by the end of February 2020, chaired by an elected literacy faculty, with charge of oversight for content of all literacy courses used in the Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education programs. 

“Over the course of this process, we developed clearer communication and meeting patterns in partnership with our colleagues at CDE,” Pierce said.” Through consistent communication and collaboration, these programs were better able to articulate where they had been meeting standards related to teaching reading and understand where CDE’s suggested improvements could be made. This led to a more refined focus on the science of teaching reading as the foundation for preparing teacher candidates in these programs. CDE and the State Board recognized the changes as positive and effective for preparing quality teachers.  

“While this was a long and very detailed process, we honor the reauthorization process as critical to our continuous improvement process across all UNC educator preparation programs.” 

“The full CDE reauthorization for all UNC teacher preparation programs shows that UNC is well positioned to continue its crucial role as the largest and leading institution in preparing future educators with high quality for the state and the nation,” Huang said.