While the breaking news is national recognition of Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Spanish Education K-12 program for the third review cycle in a row by its national accrediting body—a first for any language education program in the country—the story behind the news is just as noteworthy.

Graduates of the IUP Spanish Education program have a 100 percent placement rate, with districts eager for as many graduates as IUP can supply, according to Eileen Glisan, coordinator of the Spanish Education K-12 program and IUP Distinguished University Professor.

Glisan prepared the department's program report submitted to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and the national accrediting agency, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

ACTFL, a specialized professional association of CAEP (formerly NCATE, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education), collaborates with CAEP to review foreign language teacher preparation programs in NCATE institutions to determine if programs meet rigorous standards developed by the foreign language profession.

In order to receive national recognition, programs must prepare a program report that provides evidence of having met all requirements of the “ACTFL/CAEP Program Standards for the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers.”

The program recognition report commended IUP's program for maintaining high standards, particularly in the areas of requiring candidates to complete a study abroad program and to demonstrate a high level of oral proficiency prior to student teaching.

The reviewers also cited as strengths the qualifications of faculty who teach in the program, departmental faculty retreats, several faculty in the department who are certified oral proficiency testers, a collaborative relationship with IUP's College of Education and Educational Technology, and data and rubrics that are clearly aligned with the national standards.

According to the program recognition report, “The program is a model for any program applying for national recognition; there is little more that the program can do to improve.”

“To have our accrediting organization declare us a national model for teacher education is a tremendous honor,” Sean McDaniel, chair of the Department of Foreign Languages, said. “To have them do three times in row, well, that's just unprecedented. It is the product of tremendous work, diligence, and expertise on behalf the entire department. I couldn't be more proud.”

According to Glisan, the 100 percent job placement for IUP graduates has been ongoing for the last 12 to 15 years of the program.

“The students keep in touch with us so we see how successful they are. Our students usually have multiple job offers, and extras—for example, one recently graduate got a fully paid master's program with the job offer. Many of our students stay in Pennsylvania, and, in fact, one of our graduates was the runner-up for Pennsylvania teacher of the year. Many stay in teacher roles, but some go on to become principals. Our students tell us how much they appreciate our program, and come back to talk with current students.”

“Not only are the students getting jobs, but the districts that hire them are so satisfied with our graduates that they keep coming back to us, asking for more graduates,” Glisan said. “We're recently had school districts ask to come to our annual methodology conference because they want to interview our students while they are still in school. One of our students was actually interviewed and hired on the spot.”

One of the strengths and unique aspects of the IUP program is the collaboration between the IUP Department of Foreign Languages and the College of Education and Educational Technology.

At IUP, students take preparation courses in the College of Education and Educational Technology, but take specialized courses in pedagogy (classes about methods and practices of teaching) in the Foreign Language Department by faculty who specialize both in content and in teacher education.

“This means that our students learn from faculty who are experts both in the content area (Spanish) and in the field of education. This ‘specialist model' continually gets praise from external reviewers and from those who hire our students,” Glisan said.

This collaboration includes working closely with the College of Education and Educational Technology's student teaching program, suggesting the best matches for student teacher placement, so students are placed in the most effective environment, Glisan said.

This collaborative model is unique, given that the majority of teacher preparation programs nationwide are organized according to a generic preparation model.

“The College of Education and Educational Technology is pleased to provide leadership and support to all educator preparation programs across IUP,” Lara Luetkehans, dean of the IUP College of Education and Educational Technology, said.

“Spanish Education is among the educator preparation programs achieving National Recognition through their Specialized Program Associations as we prepare for institutionwide accreditation through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.”

Luetkehans noted that all of the educator preparation programs at IUP work together to ensure that the future educators IUP prepares are ready to meet the needs of all children and young adults in any of the variety of settings in which they will work.”

“This model offers our students a real advantage, because they benefit from the best of what the two colleges have to offer,” Glisan said. “Every time we've gotten national recognition, the reviewers have commented on IUP's specialist model. Most institutions have instruction coming only from the college of education. IUP's model offers students faculty who understand subject content and the pedagogy of teaching a language along with teacher education experts. It's a very big difference, and the difference is reflected in our student—and program—success.”

Glisan and McDaniel both stressed that achieving national recognition for a third review cycle in a row, along with the 100 placement rate for graduates for more than a decade, is a departmentwide achievement.

“This achievement is about the entire faculty, it takes everyone to make something like this happen,” Glisan said. “The entire faculty agrees on the rubrics and assessments that align with these national standards, and everyone works together to make this consistent success happen.”