UAA School of Education releases information on how it lost its accreditation

Published: Feb. 8, 2019 at 3:41 PM AKST
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Trying to be transparent with its students, the University of Alaska Anchorage School of Education released the paper trail detailing what went wrong and why the school had lost its accreditation for some programs.

It starts August 31, 2017 and ends January 11 of this year with the accreditation action report.

"We are trying to be transparent," Dr. Claudia Dybdahl, the acting dean of the College of Education, said. "It's imperative to us to rebuild trust with the public, with the students, and one way of doing that is to say, 'This accreditation was a two-year, more than two-year cycle. Here are some of the documents that were submitted along the way. Here's some of the feedback that the unit received and here's where we are today.' "

Throughout the back-and-forth, there are clear warning signs that not enough data was being kept.

Asked why, Dybdahl said not enough work was done.

"In the end, the unit didn't do enough work. So who was involved in the accreditation effort? That would be faculty-- the faculty, the dean, the person, the assessment and accreditation director," Dybdahl said. "It was a group. Accreditation isn't ever something that's done by one person."

In January of this year, administrators learned that some programs no longer had accreditation through the National Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

The programs affected are bachelor's degrees in early childhood education, elementary education, and secondary education, as well as the master's degree program in secondary education.

Dybdahl says steps have been taken to ensure data standards are kept better. That's a statement Steve Atwater, executive dean of the Alaska College of Education at UAS, echoed.

"As Dr. Dybdahl has come on board she's implemented a series of fixes, so to speak, to go forward in the school of education to seek reaccreditation," Atwater said.

Atwater says he expects about 20 students from the UAA program to transfer to either UAF or UAS this semester.

In a letter to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation dated January 25, UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen wrote: "I wish to assure you, the Council and all of our stakeholders that we are rapidly taking steps to address areas noted by the Accreditation Council for improvement and stipulations. While our first concern must be –and is –to address the needs of our current students, I also want to bring to your attention the major steps we are taking to address deficiencies and to fully prepare these programs to regain accreditation at the earliest opportunity."

UAA is in the final stages of hiring a permanent School of Education director.