Zucker Family School of Education earns perfect, preliminary marks from leading accreditation agency

The Citadel Photo

A perfect score from the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP) is not common, according to the Dean of The Citadel’s Zucker Family School of Education (ZFSOE). But a perfect score is exactly what the ZFSOE received as its preliminary results after a multi-day reaccreditation visit.

CAEP revisits and renews accreditation every seven years – but this is the first time the ZFSOE has received a perfect score.

The accreditation process is important because it provides an assessment of the success of the ZFSOE, as it does for other higher education institutions. In fact, according to CAEP’s website, its mission is to provide quality assurance.

“Being a graduate of an accredited program that went through external peer review demonstrates that those who complete our programs have met the highest standards for professional development, said Evan Ortlieb, Ph.D., dean for the ZFSOE. “This accreditation helps get our students to the front of the line when pursuing jobs and advanced degrees — they are ready to get to work making a positive impact on K-12 learners in the community.”

Ortlieb credits the success of the accreditation visit heavily to the hard work of the faculty and staff, especially the leadership of Renee Jefferson, Ph.D., CAEP coordinator, and Fei Zhao, Ph.D., director of assessment.

Not only does a CAEP accreditation confirm the knowledge base and skillsets the graduates bring to potential employers, it also helps the ZFSOE grow and improve P-12 education in the state, a primary part of its mission.

Ortlieb says ZFSOE had a 10% increase in student enrollment during the 2020-21 academic year. He believes the team’s focus on partnerships with local school districts is behind much of the growth.

Zucker Family School of Education Dean Evan Ortlieb, Ph.D.

“Our team reaches out to urban, rural and suburban areas alike in Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester and Georgetown Counties — listening to their needs and providing professional development to their teachers, counselors and administrators in the ways they want and need. We go to the school districts with an open ear and a timely response so we can capture those ideas and enact them through our programs and policies.”

One example of how the ZSFOE works to meet the needs of P-12 schools is the integration of an English as a second language (ESOL) program into the Master’s in Literacy Education degree to better prepare teachers in places like Beaufort County, which has a large ESOL population.

 “The Citadel could not be more proud of this achievement by the Zucker Family School of Education faculty and staff,” said The Citadel Provost, Sally Selden, Ph.D., SPHR. “Earning a perfect accreditation score is a reflection of their commitment to excellence in supporting not only our undergraduate and graduate students, but the P-12 schools across South Carolina. This is a great example of principled leadership at work.”

The preliminary results are expected to be officially ratified in October 2021.

The Zucker Family School of Education at The Citadel, renamed in 2014 after a donation from the Zucker Family, has been teaching educators since the 1960s. The Master of Education is one of the college’s most popular graduate programs; it was the second most popular degree for The Citadel Graduate College Class of 2020. In addition to a variety of graduate programs, the school also offers bachelor degree programs in face-to-face, hybrid and fully online modes of education, designed for students hoping to begin their teaching careers.

Anita Zucker, CEO of InterTech Group and namesake of the Zucker Family School of Education, with The Citadel Provost Sally Selden, Ph.D., SPHR, for a Greater Issues Address in February 2020