UM Lauded for Excellence in Preparing Educators, School Professionals


"As educators know, accreditation is a team sport! We should always be grateful to Associate Dean Susan Harper-Whalen and Drs. Trent Atkins and Bill McCaw, who took the lead. Key players included Kristine Murphy, Nancy Marra, John Matt, Darrell Stolle, Jean Luckowski, David Johnson, and Peter Knox,” stated Roberta Evans, dean of the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences.

She continued, “Without this incredible group and invaluable support from Provost Perry J. Brown, Associate Provost Arlene Walker-Andrews, Director of Academic Budget and Finance Beckie Christiaens, and Associate Vice President Dawn Ressel, we would not be enjoying this remarkable achievement. What is most gratifying is the assurance this provides to our graduates and students that their degrees are pure platinum, which was our goal from the outset!" 

MISSOULA – University of Montana’s professional education programs recently earned their highest national accreditation review since 1954, when the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences became a founding member of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.The accreditation evaluated 42 professional education programs across four colleges and schools, ranging from teacher preparation in elementary education to advanced degrees in school administration and school psychology, among many others.

“Under the leadership of Dean Roberta Evans, the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences delivers outstanding educator-preparation programs and ensures their candidates and graduates are successful,” said B. Joyce Stallworth, NCATE team chair and associate provost at the University of Alabama. “During the entire accreditation review process, the unit provided clear evidence that it meets the six rigorous NCATE standards. Throughout the onsite visit, all administrators, faculty, staff and students demonstrated their commitment to excellence,” Stallworth said. “I was impressed with the level of professionalism exhibited by everyone at the University.”

High accreditation scores highlight the college’s excellence in preparing future P-12 teachers and other school professionals.

“A strong teaching workforce is critical for good schools and the economic strength of Montana,” Gov. Steve Bullock said. “The University of Montana has a long tradition of preparing teachers to serve our students from before they enter kindergarten until they graduate from high school.”

The accreditation process occurs every seven years. The assessment requires the college to submit more than 3,000 data reports, policy documents and examples of student work. These documents were reviewed by educational leaders across the nation and within the state. The peer-review process culminated in a site visit, where 11 evaluators spent three days engaged in presentations, interviews and school visits with more than 160 UM administrators, faculty, teacher candidates, graduate students, recent UM graduates and P-12 teachers and principals. They presented their findings to the Montana Board of Public Education and the NCATE/CAEP Continuous Improvement Commission for final review and recommendations.

Unanimously, the programs were awarded accreditation with the highest scores possible. Review findings emphasized their outstanding leadership, assessment system and innovative use of digital learning models, noting that the programs are poised for tremendous growth.

“At the University of Montana, we know our College of Education and Human Sciences is among the absolute best in the nation,” said UM President Royce Engstrom. “These NCATE results confirm that through an in-depth review from outside evaluators.”

“To attain such a high level of recognition through this rigorous process is noteworthy,” said Denise Juneau, Montana superintendent of public instruction. “The work that has gone into program development and delivery on the UM campus will benefit Montana schools and students for years to come.”

The programs also were lauded for their collaborative efforts among experts across the UM campus and area P-12 school partners, all of whom played key roles in earning distinction for UM’s teacher-preparation programs in the review.

“The excellence of the college starts with an outstanding faculty who care deeply about their students and about educational research,” Engstrom said. “Combined with forward-thinking leadership and state-of-the-art facilities, the college is a tremendous source of pride for UM and for the state of Montana. I want to extend my personal thanks to everyone from the College, across campus and area P-12 schools who helped achieve this extraordinary accreditation outcome."

With the goal to maintain a high level in the next seven-year accreditation, leaders in the college have set new benchmarks for excellence.