UA System President Jim Johnsen made a recommendation to the Board of Regents that the UAA School of Education should be closed as soon as July 1, 2020. The board voted to discontinue UAA education programs on Monday.
This decision follows a tumultuous semester after the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation revoked its accreditation for initial licensure programs at UAA in January. In a memo provided to the Board, Johnsen recommends that all initial licensure programs be discontinued effective September 1, 2019. The memo also states that more than 100 education students have already transferred to UAF or UAS.
Not all UAA programs exist as distinct degree offerings at UAF or UAS. Early Childhood Special Education and Special Education initial licensure programs would be entirely discontinued since other similar programs do not have initial licensure tracks.
In an email to faculty and staff the day Johnsen posted his recommendation, UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen wrote, “Though this may not go the way we hope, our collective efforts over the last few months have resulted in a strong case for reaccreditation of UAA’s SoEd initial licensure programs. I have full confidence in our faculty’s ability to achieve reaccreditation, and also faith that the Alaska State Department of Education would continue to find a path to licensure for UAA SoEd graduates.”
Johnsen’s memo states that reaccreditation would require around $139,500 for consultants, an assessment coordinator, CAEP training and other reaccreditation related expenses.
The Early Childhood Education program is unique to UAA, and the discontinuation of the program would result in no designated early childhood education programs in the state. In light of this, Johnsen’s memo states that the Executive Dean of the College of Education should consider ways to transfer or retain a “stand-alone” program at UAA, UAF or UAS. The College of Education Dean is expected to present on the topic to the Board of Regents in May.
UAA’s expedited review of School of Education included recommendations on keeping Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education and Early Childhood Special Education programs.
However, Johnsen’s memo cites poor enrollment in the Early Childhood Education program, “The Expedited Program Review demonstrates that the program is unique in the UA system, addresses a high-demand employment gap, is successful in placing graduates into programs and is the major Student Credit Hour (SCH) producer for the school. However, enrollment showed a significant decline from 2014-2018.”
At the March meeting of the Board of Regents, three options were presented for the School of Education. Those options were to continue current programs while pursuing CAEP accreditation or to teach-out existing programs while bringing UAF and UAS programs to Anchorage.