Central Michigan University's undergraduate teacher education program has received continuing accreditation for seven years by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
CMU has been a leader in teacher education since it was founded in 1892 and is one of the largest teacher education programs in Michigan, graduating between 300 and 350 teacher candidates each year.
"This accreditation renewal validates CMU's commitment to and leadership in training excellent teachers," said Betty Kirby, acting dean of the College of Education and Human Services. "This is a testament to our caring and dedicated faculty, staff and partners across the state."
CMU's teacher preparation program has been accredited since 1954.
CAEP accreditation is a seal of approval that assures quality in educator preparation. It ensures that educator preparation programs prepare new teachers to know their subject matter and understand the students they will teach. The students have the clinical training that allows them to enter the classroom ready to teach effectively, according to the organization's website.
"CMU was founded 125 years ago to prepare teachers to lead the state's schools and nurture children in the gaining of knowledge," Kirby said. "With this accreditation, we continue our legacy of meeting community needs for highly skilled teachers."
CMU's professional education unit includes 20 programs at the master's, specialist and doctoral levels and 26 areas of specialized study for undergraduates. These programs involve course work in six of CMU's academic colleges — through 21 departments or schools and five interdisciplinary councils.
Innovating teacher education
CMU programs continue to innovate and evolve, which is especially important as the state of Michigan once again is starting to face a critical shortage in teachers. Kirby said these shortages particularly impact areas such as mathematics, special education, industrial technology and world languages.
CMU alumni are poised to fill these positions. Results of a 2015-16 alumni survey showed that 96 percent of CMU teacher education graduates were teaching.
Two years ago, CMU's elementary education program was redesigned so students could graduate in four years. Advancements included combining social studies, science, math and reading methods instruction — previously taken as separate courses — into one field-based course. Half of the course is spent in area schools, with the future teachers learning through direct interaction with area teachers and students.
Kirby said this type of integrated methods program is unique in Michigan.
To better prepare student teachers, CMU also instituted a new co-teaching model in 2016 that creates a team approach in the classroom. Student teachers are supported at all times by the classroom teacher as a mentor and partner. Together, they plan, implement and assess lesson plans, rather than the student teachers working largely on their own in the classroom.
CMU also has evolved with growth in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
CMU's STEM Education Scholar program is designed to help educate the next generation of scientists by preparing strong teachers in STEM disciplines. Through the program, a select cohort of CMU teacher education students work closely with CMU's Center for Excellence in STEM Education to design, teach and implement programming in the center and K-12 schools. STEM scholars work closely with faculty advisors and gain enhanced professional development through attendance at state and national STEM conferences.
Through its Ag STEM efforts, CMU teacher education faculty and students are involved in a partnership with St. John's Public School District to develop and implement a curriculum focusing on STEM concepts with an agricultural focus.