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USM Educator Preparation Programs Recognized for National Excellence

The University of Southern Mississippi meets rigorous CAEP Accreditation Standards to better prepare the teachers of tomorrow

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) announced The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is one of 60 providers from 26 states who earned accreditation for their educator preparation programs (EPPs) in spring 2021. There are now 423 providers approved under the CAEP Accreditation Standards – rigorous, nationally recognized standards developed to ensure excellence in educator preparation programs.

“We are honored to be recognized with CAEP Accreditation. This mark of quality and distinction is a source of great pride for our faculty, partners, current and prospective teacher candidates, and the University community at large,” said University President Rodney D. Bennett. “Our University’s founding as a normal college was driven by a goal to establish standards for best teaching practices. More than 111 years later, this achievement is a testament to our sustained commitment to the highest standards of pedagogy, curriculum, and continuous improvement.”

The CAEP Board of Directors updated the educator preparation standards in 2020, and USM is one of the first institutions in the nation to complete the new process. Recent changes to the CAEP standards reflect a commitment to equity and diversity and also place an emphasis on the importance of technology in preparing future educators. USM emerged from the CAEP review process with full accreditation granted for all programs that lead to initial educator licensure and licensure at the advanced level. The CAEP report noted no areas in need of improvement.

“These institutions meet high standards so that their students receive an education that prepares them to succeed in a diverse range of classrooms after they graduate,” said CAEP President Dr. Christopher A. Koch. “Seeking CAEP Accreditation is a significant commitment on the part of an educator preparation provider.”

CAEP is the sole accrediting body for educator preparation recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). To become CAEP accredited, institutions and specialized programs must demonstrate their ability to meet standards set by organizations representing the academic community, professionals and other stakeholders. Through peer review, the accreditation process assures quality and promotes improvement. Standards are based on two principles:

  1. Solid evidence that the provider’s graduates are competent and caring educators, and
  2. Solid evidence that the provider’s educator staff have the capacity to create a culture of evidence and use it to maintain and enhance the quality of the professional programs they offer.

“Earning CAEP Accreditation validates the hard work of our students, faculty and staff who are dedicated to quality and possess a mindset of continuous improvement. When a USM teacher steps into a classroom of their own, you can be confident that the education and training they received prepared them to teach, lead and serve others well,” said Dr. Trent Gould, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences. “Knowing the CAEP site team members who reviewed our programs include peers from across the nation and representatives from the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) makes this recognition even more gratifying. By preparing the highest quality teacher candidates at USM, we will continue contributing to MDE’s goal of having effective teachers and leaders in every school in our state.”

With USM’s clinical partnerships and practice having been assessed during the review process, achieving CAEP Accreditation commends the relationships USM has developed with P-12 students, schools, families and communities.

“The partnership between the Petal School District and The University of Southern Mississippi School of Education is a great example of two educational institutions working collaboratively to move teacher education forward,” said Dr. Matthew Dillon, superintendent of Petal School District. “Through all my interactions, the USM leadership team is receptive and encouraging of new ideas and ways we can strengthen teacher education in the Pine Belt. Having the ability to share innovative practices and collectively find ways to bring those ideas to fruition is not only beneficial to our district, but to the field of education as a whole. Earning CAEP Accreditation is an arduous process, and the outstanding result speaks to the high standards USM has for their teacher preparation programs.”

As one of the largest producers of educators in the state of Mississippi, USM remains focused on educating teacher candidates who are well-prepared to serve the next generation of students.

“During the year-long process of self-study we underwent for CAEP Accreditation, we deeply analyzed our curriculum, clinical experiences, candidate recruitment and progression, program impact and more at USM. We are pleased to see this thorough review process has confirmed the excellence we already knew was there,” said Dr. Gould.

For more information about undergraduate and graduate programs in education offered by the USM College of Education and Human Sciences, visit usm.edu/education. To learn more about the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, visit CAEPnet.org.