The Professional Education Unit (PEU) of Millersville University designed, programmed, implemented and refined a comprehensive web-based assessment system to service all graduate and undergraduate educator preparation programs. The University benefitted greatly from creating its own assessment system particularly when evaluated by the external accrediting agency, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) during its site visit in 2006. The investigators received a KIG grant to explore the possibilities of making the system portable and marketable to other NCATE accredited and accreditation-seeking higher education institutions. Another local institution of higher education expressed interest in the system and agreed to be partners. The investigators pursued two goals: 1) developing and implementing a needs assessment survey to determine marketability to institutions in a six state region, 2) making the current assessment system portable and testing implementation with the other institution. Millersville’s system appears to provide significant cost and efficiency advantages over current commercial alternatives, and better aligns with the purposes of teacher education programs. Commercial programs can be costly to purchase and to customize. Millersville uses a custom system entirely under its control, which allows users to program changes and reports as needed. It could offer the product to other institutions on a price competitive basis.
During implementation the research encountered concerns about security at the partner institution. Therefore, the project managers could not proceed as planned and revised their approach. They have chosen to work on continued development of the longitudinal system capabilities and ability to simplify implementation to other institutions. In other words, they will focus on continued work on prototype development, addressing security concerns and adaptability. Currently, the product is the property of the University as the programmers were permanent staff of the University. It does not meet stringent legal criteria to qualify for a patent, but the software does qualify for copyright protection. Copyright can be protected simply be registering the product. Care must be taken to identify all the authors, which includes staff and student programmers who wrote code, even if they only wrote one small section of the code. It also includes faculty or administrators who developed the concept, contributed to the structure or basic architecture of the system and/or were in a position to control outcomes, e.g. they had influence over the design.
Upon completion of the software development, it may be deployed at different locations that agree to confidential beta test agreements. The commercial future is bright for this product as it addresses the needs of 632 institutions with 100 more seeking first time NCATE accreditation and in the six state region target market there are 166 accredited NCATE institutions