One of the worst things that can happen to a school is for it to lose its national accreditation. On January 11, 2019, the University of Alaska Anchorage was informed that its education department had suffered this indignity. The Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation pulled their endorsement of the department, and approximately 250 students are anxious about the future of their degrees.
Anyone in Alaska seeking a teaching license has to graduate from a fully accredited program, so if this problem lasts, the currently enrolled students are in a bit of a pickle. Immediately after the abrupt announcement, the state announced that there would be a two-semester grace period, but it will still affect the employment chances of any students who graduate while the school is lacking.
According to the official notification, the school’s clearance was pulled because they failed four of the Council’s five standards.
- Content and Pedagogical Knowledge – Not Met
- Clinical Partnerships and Practice – Met
- Candidate Quality, Recruitment, and Selectivity – Not Met
- Program Impact – Not Met
- Provider Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement – Not Met
Restoring all of the above standards isn’t something that UAA will be able to manage overnight. Nor is it something that happened overnight, despite the university’s claim to have been “blindsided” by the news. The only people genuinely surprised were the students.
“I felt like my options were either to transfer schools which, being already my third college, I just can’t even think about that,” said Mackenzie Lindeman, a UAA sophomore. “Or switching my major because they have to wait a year before they could reapply, and then who knows how long that process would be? It took UAF five years to get reaccreditation, and I can’t just put all my marbles in a jar and hope.”
Lindeman changed her major in the few days since the notice, unwilling to take the risk.
Students who are closer to getting their degrees, who have invested years of tuition into the program, are talking about the possibility of legal action, saying that the university has failed to deliver on its promise of a respected degree.
“The overall feeling is just… everyone is just so angry, and we just feel so, speaking on behalf of everyone, hopeless,” Lindeman said. “People just don’t know where to turn or who to ask, because we don’t really trust anybody.”
Photo: University of Alaska Anchorage. Credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com