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Successful accreditation makes Bethel a resource for other colleges and universities

March 16th, 2020

Bethel, south entrance

Teacher education has been accredited for another cycle, through the end of December 2026.

The department finished in such good standing that faculty were asked to be resources for other colleges and universities in the state.

At the end of December 2019, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) made its final recommendation for Bethel teacher education to be accredited through 2026.

This followed “the same conclusion from [the national] accrediting body, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation [CAEP],” said Robert Milliman, vice president for academic affairs in an e-mail to the campus community. “All standards were met with no stipulations. 

“Thank you to [Program Manager] Elissa Harris [and education faculty] Allen Jantz, Lisa Janzen Scott and Doug Siemens for their work and dedication in successfully completing this comprehensive and meticulous accreditation review process, demonstrating the quality of Bethel’s teacher education program,” Milliman continued.

“In addition to a positive review, KSDE has asked Allen Jantz, department chair, to provide accreditation training for other institutions in the state, [to give] the small institution perspective.”

Jantz did exactly that on Feb. 17, when Bethel hosted about 30 “education preparation providers” – staff and faculty from college and university teacher education departments across the state – for a periodic KSDE accreditation workshop.

Jantz and Scott presented three sessions, on long-range preparation (creating and maintaining the quality assurance system for small institutions); tackling CAEP’s Standard 4 in Kansas; and the reliability and validity of a program’s assessment.

“Kansas has adopted the national CAEP standards,” Scott said, and Jantz added, “Standard 4 says [since] our graduates have an impact on students in the classroom, we need to gather data after they graduate to verify that the students they’re teaching are learning.”

He continued, “While some states provide assessment data to their teacher prep programs and institutions, Kansas by law does not [as a way of protecting child privacy].”

The accreditation process takes place every seven years. The work starts more than 18 months in advance of the accreditation team’s site visit – that’s the deadline to submit the reviews that show the program is meeting the standards for all content areas.

“Teacher education accreditation is a two-phase process,” Jantz said. “First is ‘Kansas-only’ – reviewing all the areas in which we license teachers, making sure we meet the content standards. Second is the national [accrediting body] and state working together to make sure the teacher education curriculum and processes, the whole program, meet CAEP standards.”

The Bethel method for gathering Standard 4 data made an impression on accreditation personnel, especially in the KSDE.

“They liked what we said,” Jantz noted. “Several institutions have asked, ‘Can we borrow this?’” – which led to the Feb. 17 accreditation workshop sessions.

At nine months before the site visit, the program must submit its initial self-study, to be followed by a “feedback report” and ideally two months to respond with any additional information requested.

“They came with very few questions,” Scott said. “They just needed to validate that what they saw in the reports was reflected in people’s individual reports.”

A quick and successful accreditation is “validation that we’re doing a good job preparing teachers,” Jantz said.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is the highest ranked Kansas private college, at #12, in Washington Monthly, Top 200 Bachelor’s Colleges; ranks at #23 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest; is Zippia.com’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; stands at #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities listed by lendEDU as “Best for Financial Aid”; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to RNtoBSN.com; and earned its second-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star gold award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2019-20. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.