After years of working toward the goal, Central Baptist College’s teacher education program has now reached national accreditation.

The program is one of 147 in the U.S. that meets the new, rigorous standards through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to prepare the next generation of teachers.

College officials made the announcement among dozens of community partners, employees, donors and more during a ceremony Thursday in the Story Library on campus.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Gary McAllister said about a decade ago he began dreaming about the possibility of having a teacher education program at CBC at a time where they only had a few education classes on campus.

He said “fortunately,” he was able to bring Shanna New, the current chair of the Education Department, who worked hard to bring the program — and other licensure programs — to the campus.

“Really, there’s no better feeling in the world than when that dream that you have becomes a reality,” McAllister said.

He said CBC’s mission is being committed to transforming the lives through education that integrates Christian faith and academic excellence in a Christ-centered environment.

“You see, we not only want to transform the lives of our students but we want them to transform the lives of others as they leave this institution and that’s why the teacher ed program is so very very important to us,” McAllister said.

New said it’s been her pleasure and privilege to lead this project through the years and is relieved that the opportunity has finally come and is officially official.

“Well, it’s a great feeling and an accreditation validates that it happened and it identifies us some things to work on in the future and so I’m excited about that opportunity,” she said.

As for what’s next, New said they will implement the programs that they have.

“This will be our first time to kind of focus on doing that without accreditation reports hanging over our head and we will also, then, look at shortage areas in Arkansas to see if there’s some additional programs we can add,” she said. “We really want the diversity in our program to match the diversity of K-12 students and it doesn’t right now. We’ve got some improvements to make in that area so that’ll be a focus area as well.”

According to a CBC news release, CAEP is the sole nationally recognized accrediting body for educator preparation and accreditation is a nongovernmental activity based on peer review that serves the dual functions of assuring quality and promoting improvement.

“CAEP was created by the consolidation of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council,” the release states. “It is a unified accreditation system intent on raising the performance of all institutions focused on educator preparation. Currently, more than 800 educator preparation providers participate in the CAEP Accreditation system, including many previously accredited through former standards.”

Educator preparation providers seeking accreditation must pass peer review on five standards, which are based on two principles: solid evidence that the provider’s graduates are competent and caring educators and solid evidence that the provider’s educator staff have the capacity to create a culture of evidence and use it to maintain and enhance the quality of the professional programs they offer.

CBC’s work toward an accredited Teacher Education Program at CBC began in 2009, with the establishment of an Education Department and from 2012-2014, the program became a candidate for accreditation by CAEP’s predecessor, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, and programs of study in five licensure areas were approved by the Arkansas Department of Education.

In November 2017, the CBC Teacher Education Program hosted a team of peer reviewers for a 3-day site visit during which program data and outcomes were examined, which is the culminating accreditation activity and in April 2018, the CAEP Accreditation Council reviewed information collected by the site visit team and determined that the CBC Teacher Education Program had met all five CAEP standards.