By Jessica Miranda
The 1st Annual Meeting and Quality Assurance Symposium for AAQEP brought together members of the field of educator preparation from across the country to learn more about AAQEP’s approach to accreditation. Throughout the day, attendees engaged in rich discussions about quality educator preparation and how innovation within our field can be supported and encouraged through the accreditation process. There was a sense of excitement and optimism as attendees learned about AAQEP’s framework that focuses on supporting program improvement within the diverse contexts in which we work and aims to move the process of accreditation towards being improvement focused rather than compliance driven.
Mark LaCelle-Peterson and Linda McKee provided a clear and thoughtful introduction to AAQEP’s mission, vision, and framework for accreditation. The agenda for the day included sessions that covered the principles that guided the development of AAQEP’s system, the standards and their categorization as fundamental expectations and contextual challenges/institutional context, and the process for accreditation. Attendees also had opportunities to learn about and discuss AAQEP’s process innovations including cohort grouping for increased collaboration and support across preparation providers, a strengths-based model for increased efficiency and reduced burden, and an option for staggered submissions of evidence by standard.
As a member of the Expectations Working Group, I was eager to learn from new colleagues about their programs and hear their feedback on AAQEP’s standards and process. The common thread throughout our conversations was appreciation for a fresh approach to accreditation: an approach that is improvement focused, innovation friendly, and flexible. AAQEP recognizes that preparation programs’ diverse institutional contexts and contextual challenges require a quality assurance process that is not “one size fits all.” Through the collaborative peer-review framework, educator preparation programs can focus on strengthening their program practices and the P20 education system.
The meeting concluded with an invitation to us all to be involved in the continued development of AAQEP. As our field continues in our commitment to student success and quality educator preparation, AAQEP is a promising new option for continuous improvement and national accreditation. For many in educator preparation, AAQEP offers a renewed sense of hope that we can participate in a self-study process that strengthens our programs, allows us to test innovations within our quality assurance system, and encourages dialogue about an accreditation process that our faculty will want to be a part of.
Jessica Miranda is the Director of Assessment, Accreditation, and Accountability for the University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Education.