The official word is in: Palm Beach State College has been reaffirmed for accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The 79-year-old institution received the news from the accrediting body this week following an extensive two-year process that included a site visit last October by a SACS Commission on Colleges team of higher education experts and leaders. The reaffirmation is valid through 2022.
In making the decision, the SACS Commission on Colleges reviewed everything from the integrity of the institution, curriculum and facilities to faculty, student services, budgets and financial aid, seeing how it all stacked up to SACS Commission on Colleges’ standards.
“It’s a very thorough review of all of the college’s policies and procedures to demonstrate we are in compliance,” said Dr. Sharon Sass, vice president of academic affairs.
Palm Beach State College cleared the process with no recommendations.
“There are very few colleges that get no recommendations, so this is a very good moment for the college,” Sass said. “It demonstrates that we are an excellent college and that we do what we say we’re doing. We’re constantly improving processes and procedures to ensure student success.”
“This is another confirmation of what we have worked so hard to accomplish as a quality academic institution,” said Dr. Dennis Gallon, president of Palm Beach State College.
In other news, Palm Beach State College, along with its fellow Florida College System institutions, will be the first in the nation to voluntarily commit to a system-wide implementation of the Common Core State Standards in teacher education.
PBSC’s Institute of Teacher Education will embed the new K-12 standards in its curriculum so that its graduates enter the classroom ready to teach using the Common Core.
These standards define the knowledge and skills students should achieve during their K-12 education so that they will be ready to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce-training programs. With full implementation expected by the 2014-15 school year, the Common Core State Standards were developed in a process led by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, with nationwide input from educators, parents and community leaders. Thus far, 45 states and three territories have adopted the standards.
“This is an exciting time for Florida — both K-12 and postsecondary — where major reform on both sides is occurring to get students ready for success,” said Randall W. Hanna, chancellor of Florida College System. “The FCS anticipates a new generation of students armed with the Common Core coming out of Florida’s high schools, and we are ready for them.”
Palm Beach State College has long recognized the important connection between its mission and that of K-12 education. “The quality of our teacher education has a direct impact on upcoming elementary and secondary students, who in turn become our college students,” Gallon said. “In addition to training new teachers, Palm Beach State is uniquely positioned to offer Common Core training to current educators.”
PBSC’s Institute of Teacher Education, which includes its long-established Teacher Certification program, offers a wide array of credit and professional development courses and programs for students, working teachers and career changers seeking an alternate route to professional teacher certification.
“We’re preparing to implement Common Core State Standards throughout our curriculum and materials,” said Susan Caldwell, associate dean for teacher education and social sciences. “We view these new standards as an opportunity to reinforce our commitment to developing excellent educators who are prepared to teach at the highest level.”
Florida’s colleges remain the primary point of access to higher education in Florida, with 66 percent of the state’s high school graduates pursuing postsecondary education beginning at a Florida college, and 82 percent of freshman and sophomore minority students in public higher education attending one of Florida’s 28 colleges. To learn more about the Florida College System, visit www.fldoe.org/cc.
For more information about the Common Core State Standards Initiative, visit www.corestandards.org.
Serving more than 51,000 students annually, Palm Beach State College is the largest institution of higher education in Palm Beach County. Established in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, it offers more than 100 programs of study at locations in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens and Belle Glade.
For additional information, visit www.palmbeachstate.edu.