Westfield State University’s teacher education program has received full, seven-year accreditation with commendation from the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) for its wide-ranging, respected, and growing work in anti-racist education. Westfield State is the first institution of higher education in the AAQEP membership to receive commendation from the organization.
“Educator preparation at Westfield State has been a vital and integral part of Westfield State University since Horace Mann founded the institution in 1839 as the Westfield Normal School. It is Horace Mann’s philosophy that we continue to embrace: to welcome all students—regardless of fortune, ethnicity, gender, or religion. This remarkable heritage, is embodied by our Education Department,” said Westfield State University Interim President Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D., “National accreditation by AAQEP continues the affirmation of Westfield State University’s longstanding tradition of excellence in teacher preparation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and region.”
The Westfield State Education Department’s teacher education program is designed to prepare educators to teach effectively within a democratic society. Its mission is informed by six pillars: critical engagement with diversity, social justice, community building, scholarship, and reflective practice. Program coursework and field experiences provide students with the understanding, knowledge, and skills that will enable them, as teachers, to engage with diversity and issues of equity, build inclusive learning communities, embrace the scholarship of teaching and learning, and adopt a reflective practitioner mindset. These principles—which undergird the Teacher Education program—set expectations that are essential for those who will teach in K–12 schools and collectively are needed to provide the foundational knowledge for Westfield State students to become effective, caring, and equitable teachers.
Westfield State University Interim Provost Robert Kersting, Ph.D., in recognizing the faculty, staff, and librarians, whose collective efforts made AAQEP accreditation possible said, “Westfield State University strives for excellence in each of our academic programs, and this prestigious accreditation with commendation is a clear example of that success.”
After reviewing the evidence collected through a process of self-study and peer review, the AAQEP Accreditation Commission issued the decision at its June 24, 2020, meeting along with the following rationale:
“Westfield State’s program presented compelling evidence that it meets all AAQEP standards. The evidence showed that program completers are prepared to effectively work as professional educators and that they are able to adapt to different contexts and to professionally grow. Program capacity to analyze and provide evidence for sustained actions and revisions on behalf of candidates was evident and sufficient to meet AAQEP standards. The program engages with stakeholders and partners to strengthen the pre-school-through-graduate school (P–20) education system across the region.”
Professor Juline E. Mills, Ph.D., dean of Westfield State’s College of Education, Health, and Human Services, commended the tireless work of the staff of the Office of Teacher Education, Licensure, and Outreach—Dean Stanley, Professor James Martin-Rehrmann, Ph.D.; Professor and Elementary Program Chair Megan Kennedy, Ph.D.; Wendy Wiggins, Barbara Lucas, and Francini Zampini—for making Westfield State University AAQEP accreditation possible.