Tips for Gaining National Recognition for Your PETE/HETE Program

Gaining National Recognition status for your physical education teacher education (PETE) and/or health education teacher education (HETE) program begins with accreditation, which is a review of the quality of your educator preparation program(s).

Here are three of the more popular paths to accreditation in the higher education setting (requirements are based on your state and university):

  • State-specific accreditation
  • AAQEP (Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation)
  • CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation)

With state-specific accreditation, the state uses its own accreditation process, which is not tied to national standards. In addition, the teacher education program is reviewed as a whole, not by content area.

With AAQEP accreditation, there is no individual program option, thus no opportunity to receive National Recognition for your PETE/HETE program.

This article focuses on accreditation through CAEP, which uses Specialized Professional Associations (SPAs) to provide program review. The SPAs define content-area standards and give National Recognition status to programs that meets those standards.

CAEP: The Path to National Recognition

As the SPA for CAEP accreditation of PETE and HETE programs, SHAPE America provides training and support to help educator preparation providers (EPPs) complete the process and receive National Recognition.

If you have never completed a program report for National Recognition, here are some steps you can take to get started:

  1. Participate in SHAPE America webinars such as “CAEP SPA Program Report Preparation” and “Developing Key Assessments in PETE.” These webinars provide a wealth of information and clarity on how to prepare a program report and develop assessments aligned with standards.
  2. Purchase the SHAPE America reference publication for your specific program, either National Standards and Guidelines for Physical Education Teacher Education or National Standards & Guidelines for Initial Health Education Teacher Education. They will be valuable as you go through the accreditation process.
  3. Complete a curriculum map. This will provide you with information on what other faculty members are doing in their courses, including any assessments they are using. Working as a team helps develop faculty buy-in and will make the accreditation process easier.

Choosing the Right SPA

SHAPE America has been a leader in developing teacher education standards for health education and physical education since the late 1980s. These standards were developed by committees of volunteers who reviewed the literature on teacher education and were approved by the national accrediting body (CAEP, formerly NCATE).

New standards were developed and approved in 2017 for PETE and in 2018 for HETE. Higher education programs that prepare health educators and physical educators can utilize these standards to develop curriculum that is aligned with empirical evidence and best practices in teacher education.

To assist PETE/HETE programs with implementation of the standards and report preparation, SHAPE America offers a variety of webinars covering topics such as writing the program report, developing key assessments aligned with standards, and reviewing data collected from the assessments.

These webinars are led by program report reviewers who share examples and provide feedback on participants’ program assessments. They offer a great opportunity to ask questions and get clarity on how to write program reports.

Put in the Work

Examining the quality of your program and teacher candidates is a process, not a destination. If your institution is not a CAEP institution (meaning they require another path to accreditation), you will not be able to seek National Recognition.

However, going through the process will still help you develop an assessment system that can document what your candidates know and what they are able to do when they graduate. The program reports can be shared with your administration as evidence of what your graduates are able to do after completing your program.

In addition, all states require teacher education programs to gain state approval, so even if national accreditation is not required for your program, you should be aware that going through this process and completing the program reports often leads to the required program approval by the state department of education.

It is true that the process involves a great deal of time to ensure that data is collected, that faculty are reviewing the data, and that decisions are being made to improve the quality of the HETE/PETE program.

And, as a teacher educator you are probably inundated with mentoring students in methods classes, supervising student teachers, and preparing up-to-date lessons, all while trying to demonstrate scholarship and service as required for promotion and tenure.

The good news is that the National Recognition process — which includes improving your program based on data — is often considered “scholarship and service” by promotion and tenure committees.

Become a Better Educator

I began my journey in accreditation in 2000 while I was an assistant professor at Plymouth State University (formerly Plymouth State College). I volunteered to assist the health education (HE) and physical education (PE) teacher preparation program coordinator. My goal was to learn the process, but within a short time I was the lead writer of the health education report.

I had no idea that this work would become my area of expertise and scholarship. And, I can honestly say that my experience as a program reviewer has helped me become a better teacher educator.

If you are a higher education professional in PETE/HETE, I urge you to consider becoming a program report reviewer. SHAPE America provides a two-part training session, after which you’ll be placed on a team with a lead reviewer and another trained reviewer. This is a wonderful way to understand the accreditation process from the inside — and one of the best forms of professional development you will find. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about accreditation.

Additional Resources

Irene Cucina

Irene Cucina is a professor and program coordinator of Health and Physical Education Teacher Preparation in the Health and Human Performance Department at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. A teacher, coach, and teacher educator for more than 40 years, she is currently a member of the SHAPE America HETE/PETE CAEP Advisory Committee and is a HETE/PETE lead reviewer and auditor.