University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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UW-Eau Claire School of Education
Receives High Marks from DPI

 MAILED:  Aug. 7, 2003

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s School of Education received full accreditation approval from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, making its teacher education program one of just two in the state to-date to receive approval under new legislation that governs such programs in Wisconsin.

“Given the tradition of excellence within the School of Education, I’m not surprised by the outcome,” said Katherine Rhoades, associate dean of the School of Education. “I’m proud of how our faculty worked together to address the accreditation process’s many challenges.”

The process was particularly challenging because new state legislation — known as PI 34 — will change how teacher education programs are evaluated and will change requirements for licensing teachers in Wisconsin.

“It’s a complete re-thinking of the evaluation process and of teacher licensure,” Rhoades said of PI 34, which goes into effect in fall 2004. “It’s part of a national shift toward making teachers accountable for having knowledge, skills and dispositions that align with professional teaching standards.”

Of seven teacher education programs in Wisconsin reviewed so far, only UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls were granted full approval, Rhoades said. The accreditation is good for five years.

“The approval is confirmation that UW-Eau Claire truly does an exceptional job of preparing tomorrow’s teachers,” said Mark Clark, dean of the College of Professional Studies, which includes the School of Education. “Our faculty and students should be proud that DPI reviewers found their work to be of the highest quality.”

PI 34 requires teacher education programs to assess students throughout their academic career using specific tools, such as portfolios showcasing their work. Students must continue developing the portfolios during the first few years of their teaching careers, with the portfolios becoming the basis of future teacher licensing.
PI 34 requires graduates applying for an initial license to pass a content exam in the field in which they plan to teach. For example, a student planning to teach social studies must pass a social studies exam to prove they have the required knowledge in this broadfield area.

“The result is greater cooperation among the School of Education and associated teacher education faculty in the arts and sciences and human sciences and services because we must ensure that the curriculum aligns,” Rhoades said. “We all worked collaboratively to align curriculum and examine how education students are assessed in arts and sciences and human sciences and services classes.

“We had commitment on all levels, from the upper administration to faculty and staff. There were many people who worked very hard to get us to this point.”

PI 34 also requires teacher education programs to work closely with PK-12 educators and administrators, something UW-Eau Claire’s School of Education has done for many years.

“We have long valued those relationships and it showed during the review process,” Rhoades said. For example, the school hosted a lunch for the reviewers that included partners from area schools and educational organizations. “It was a wonderful opportunity for the reviewers to witness our partnerships in action,” she said.
The DPI review prompted the School of Education to review its mission, vision and priorities, Rhoades said. The result was creation of a conceptual framework that now guides the school’s policies and decisions, she said.

“It’s exciting because this framework became a catalyst for change,” Rhoades said. “Everyone got excited and we quickly moved beyond merely looking to comply with DPI regulations. Instead we viewed this as an opportunity to enrich our already strong programs.”

The full accreditation approval is energizing, but it’s just one step in an ongoing process, Rhoades said. “It feels good to have had this success,” she said. “But we know there is still much more we can do to assure continued program improvement.”

For more information about UW-Eau Claire’s School of Education, contact Katherine Rhoades at (715) 836-3671 or


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: August 8, 2003