New Mexico Highlands University Appeals Decision to Revoke Specialty Accreditation

LAS VEGAS N.M.

New Mexico Highlands University is asking a national organization not to yank the specialty accreditation for its school of education.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education notified Highlands in October that the school’s accreditation was being revoked, though the university was given the opportunity to appeal the decision.

Highlands remains on conditional accreditation until a decision is made.

Kathy Jenkins, interim dean of Highlands’ school of education, said the school should hear back from the council within 90 days.

While the accreditation isn’t required of schools of education, it is held by Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico and Western New Mexico University.

An evaluation team from the council put Highlands on notice in 2004 that it failed to meet one of six standards, determining that Highlands’ assessment system was substandard.

“We met all the conditions relating to the curriculum, the quality of our students, the quality of our faculty and the quality of our programs,” Jenkins said. “What we were asked to address in 2004 was our assessment system, so the faculty began putting an assessment together in 2005.”

After another visit in November 2006, the team determined that the assessment system still was inadequate, the university said.

Jenkins said the assessment system is intended to collect data on students graduating from the program. They are supposed to track such things as students’ progress through classes, their grade point averages and how they did on a state test. The information is intended to be used to help schools of education make changes if necessary.

Highlands President James Fries said the accreditation will not change the success the school has had in graduating an “impressive number of teachers who greatly contribute to quality education in classrooms across the country.”

He said only half of U.S. colleges and universities have specialty accreditation.

“National data shows there is no difference between students graduating from and institution with specialty accreditation versus no specialty accreditation,” he said.

Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com



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