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UTEP College of Education gets warning, risks losing accreditation
By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- The University of Texas at El Paso's College of Education received a warning from the state and if things don't turn around within the next couple of years, it could lose accreditation.
The warning stems from low passage rates on the certification examination, a test all aspiring teachers must take before they can teach in Texas.
Losing accreditation would be bad news for UTEP students.
"If UTEP isn't accredited then you can't take the test here, you cannot be a certified teacher," said Jacqueline Padilla, a junior at UTEP.
UTEP received warning in May, but many students said they didn't find out about it until this week.
"UTEP has obviously known about this for a while, and I'm just finding out and the fact that we only have two years to improve and if it doesn't, I mean, it's going to have very negative consequences," said Padilla.
Recently less than 80 percent of UTEP students passed the certification exam, staff said. Some students said they didn't feel prepared for the test. But Padilla, who will take the test this spring, said she feels prepared.
She said not only does UTEP already require students to take and pass a practice test before taking the real state exam, UTEP also hosts weekly workshops and offers online practice exams.
"I feel that many students don't know about those resources, especially incoming freshman, sophomores underclassmen, said Padilla.
Padilla said in order for test results to improve the university needs to start pushing the resources they already have.
In response to the warning from the state, UTEP will be enacting changes beginning spring semester. Those changes include tightening admission requirements and offering students more resources.
"In April TEA specialists will visit UTEP and evaluate our progress. We are optimistic the program's accreditation status will be changed at this point," said Stephen Riter, interim dean for UTEP's College of Education.
Padilla said it wouldnt look good on her resume if the school lost accreditation after she graduated. She hopes this news will prompt students to study a little harder.
"I do feel that if I had that information and other students have that information it would encourage them to do better on the test," said Padilla.
If passage rates don't increase by next year staff said UTEP's warning could turn into probation status. If passage rates still arent high enough the following year the College of Education could lose accreditation.
UTEP is one of six schools in the state that received a warning from the state.