The University of Minnesota Duluth is at risk of losing national accreditation for one of its colleges because of recent action taken by the Minnesota Board of Teaching.
The board last week suspended UMD's College of Education and Human Service Professions in regard to its ability to offer teacher preparation programs. It was, however, granted conditional approval to continue to do so while those programs are under review.
Board of Teaching executive director Erin Doan said it's "too soon to tell" whether UMD's national accreditation status will be affected - but she said it's probable it will be.
"The board is required to communicate this information to (the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation), but what they do with the information is completely up to them," she said, noting that only state approval, meaning the teaching board, is required in Minnesota to offer teacher preparation.
Fifteen Minnesota colleges and universities are accredited through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, which shows schools have met national standards.
Stevie Chepko, senior vice president of accreditation for that council, said UMD's College of Education and Human Service Professions was last accredited in 2011 for seven years, with the next visit scheduled for 2017.
Each year all institutions accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation must submit an annual report that includes any change in state status. A change in status would trigger a review, which could result in a revocation of an institution's accreditation or lead to a campus visit, Chepko said.
Andrea Schokker, UMD's executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the university still intends to continue seeking accreditation from the national council, but the priority is on its submissions to the state Board of Teaching to resolve those issues.
UMD's College of Education and Human Service Professions is on a probation of sorts until next April, while the majority of its teacher preparation programs are reviewed and a site visit by the state teaching board is conducted. The college could be reapproved earlier than that, depending on when proper documentation for certain programs is turned in to the board - and Schokker said it's UMD's intent to have that done by Aug. 1. The suspension mainly affects the college's education department, and not the other four departments within it.
UMD's education department can continue to operate its programs but can't enroll new students in most teacher preparation programs. Schokker said students not already enrolled in an affected education program can still take courses that would lead them on their chosen path, but won't be officially part of the program until the college is granted approval by the state teaching board.
Incoming freshmen are not affected, she said, because the matter is expected to be handled before it's time for them to enroll in those higher-level courses.
The state teaching board in March disapproved all 20 of the college's secondary education programs, after the discovery that UMD had submitted inaccurate information about them. In January, two dozen students learned they wouldn't be able to obtain a regular teaching license because UMD failed to document changes to its dual-licensure elementary education and special education program in 2012, making the program non-existent. Those who had job offers could apply for temporary licenses.
And on Friday, the board also disapproved UMD's early childhood special education programs - for the same reason as the secondary programs - and gave UMD a variance to allow the December graduates of the dual-licensure program to obtain their teaching licenses. All of the students enrolled in those programs would be able to apply for a regular license under the variance. UMD plans to do the same for students enrolled in other affected areas.
The suspension came about, Doan said, because of the issues with individual programs.
"After the disapproval of the majority of programs that had been incorrectly reported by Duluth ... the board has to consider whether or not there is still evidence they are meeting ... standards," she said.
Schokker said the suspension doesn't change much for UMD students. It does mean, for staff, a site review and a thorough reporting of education programs.
Because UMD must resubmit a large number of programs, she said, the suspension is a way to take a deeper look at its teacher education.
"I am welcoming that review," Schokker said, noting that and the site visit will "strengthen" the college.
The college's dean, Jill Pinkney-Pastrana, is leading the work.