New Options for Program Review

In 2004, in response to widespread dissatisfaction with the then-current program review process, a major change was made in the national program review process. NCATE headquarters assumed the management of the program review process; and uniform forms, policies, and guidelines were applied to all program areas. All programs were required to have six to eight performance assessments that, taken together, demonstrated candidate mastery of the standards of the appropriate Specialized Professional Associations (SPAs). Programs were required to have five specific types of assessment and then were given some flexibility to select other assessments. SPAs were also allowed to require specific types of assessments beyond the first five.

This current process has been in place for over five years. In general, the response to the greater uniformity in the process has been welcomed. However, faculty have had a greater than expected struggle to develop appropriate assessments that meet the SPA criteria and have continued to be frustrated with the complexity of the process. In response to these and other concerns, and as part of the ongoing NCATE Redesign Initiative, the following options for program review have been approved by the NCATE Specialty Areas Studies Board. The current process (now called Option A) will continue with some changes to the required documentation. All options are available beginning for programs submitting program reports in Spring 2010.

Option A:  The current process will continue to be an option. This option requires that the program select 6 to 8 key assessments required of all candidates. NCATE has prescribed the type of assessments for #1 – 5.  The following changes have been made to the program report form:

  1. In Section I, questions 4 and 5 for all SPAs have been deleted.

  2. In Section I, question 3 has been deleted for all SPAs except CEC, NCTE, and NASP.

  3. In Section IV, instructions have been clarified and shortened.

Option B: This option provides institutions greater flexibility to choose their own assessments (up to a maximum of 8) and take responsibility to demonstrate the collection demonstrates candidate mastery of the SPA standards. Faculty can select the key assessments (required of all candidates) with the following constraints:

  1. Faculty can select up to 8 assessments (there is no lower limit on the number of assessments)

  2. One assessment must be the state licensure test if there is a state licensure test in the discipline area

  3. One assessment must focus on candidate impact on student learning, or, for non-teaching programs, an assessment of candidate impact on providing a supportive learning environment.

  4. Assessments, taken as a whole, must demonstrate mastery of SPA standards.

  5. Assessments must address the following key elements of NCATE Unit Standard 1: content, pedagogical content knowledge and skills, and impact on student learning.

Option C: Continuing Recognition: This option is available to programs that, during their previous review cycle, were recognized using the 6 to 8 key assessment model, and are submitting to SPAs whose standards have not changed since the previous submission. This model was first available for programs submitted in Fall 2004 and required for all programs submitted in Spring 2005 and thereafter. If programs meet these criteria, the documentation required for the current review could be significantly reduced as follows:

  1. Programs must submit data on all assessments.

  2. Programs submit documentation only for those assessments that are new or substantially changed since the previous submission

  3. Programs respond only to those items in Section I for which there has been substantial change since the pervious submission. 

  4. There is a greater focus on Section V focusing on how programs have used data to improve their program.

Option D: Validity and Reliability Studies OptionThis option permits an institution to conduct validity and reliability studies of its assessments in lieu of other program report evidence requirements. The validity and reliability of assessments (content in relation to standards, consistency with other evidence, success in subsequent employment, etc.) is so integral to a standards and performance-based national recognition review that systematic examination of validity is essential.  It would, by definition, directly address SPA standards.  It would permit institutions with appropriately prepared faculty to formulate a task as part of accreditation that is meaningful for them, while, not unimportantly, helping to advance the research base for educator preparation.  It is an option that might lend itself to joint participation across several institutions, or at least across programs within an institution.  It is probably not an option that every institution has the capacity to execute; moreover, it would require a different kind of selection and/or training of reviewers. Before a program could choose this option, it must receive approval from NCATE.

For more information contact Monique Lynch (