New requirements make it tougher to become a teacher in Illinois

Discussion in 'General Education' started by FourSquare, May 31, 2010.

  1. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    May 31, 2010

    Thought this article might interest some people. Looks like we are all going the route of California's rigorous teacher assessment!

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    Just as Illinois overhauls principal training, similar changes are on the horizon for teachers.

    Both areas are key priorities in the federal Race to the Top program, and winning a grant in the upcoming round would speed up the process, says state spokeswoman Mary Fergus. “Nationally, we are paying attention to how we can assess teacher candidate performance and teacher quality, in [other ways than their students’] achievement test scores,” says Vicki Chou, the dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

    The latest step in the process, which began two-and-a-half years ago, will be discussions held this summer among groups of elementary and middle-grades teachers. One area of focus: increasing teachers’ content knowledge, especially among 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-grade teachers. Following these discussions, the state will gather stakeholders to talk about high school math and science teacher training.

    Illinois is also one of 20 states participating in a federal pilot project called the Teacher Performance Assessment Consortium. Student teachers at UIC, Illinois State University and Illinois College (a small college in downstate Jacksonville) will undergo a portfolio-based evaluation that Chou says could eventually become a statewide requirement for teacher candidates here.

    The portfolio will examine every step of teaching – from lesson plans to a video of instruction delivery – and requires teachers to explain their choices.


    “Every single Illinois school of education is using some kind of teacher performance assessment, but each one is idiosyncratic to the institution,” Chou says. “The beauty of trying to have a common assessment is that then you can compare across institutions.”
    The evaluation is based on the Performance Assessment for California Teachers, which is used by 30 universities in that state.

    Meanwhile, changes to teacher training that have been approved so far include:

    *Increasing cut scores on the basic skills test. Starting in September, the threshold will rise to 65 to 80 percent in each subject area, a significant increase over the current cut scores of 35 percent in math, 50 percent in reading and language arts, and 42 percent in writing. Currently, 80 to 85 percent of students pass on their first try, but those percentages are likely to decrease. Universities will have to spend more time preparing prospective teachers whose skills are behind.

    As state standards toughen, the University of Illinois at Chicago, National-Louis University, Loyola University, and Northeastern Illinois University – recipients of a $3 million federal Teacher Quality Partnership Grant – are putting prospective teachers through an extra battery of evaluations, surveys and tests.

    Starting this fall, freshmen at those schools will take both the state basic skills test (although students are not required to pass it until they are juniors) and the PRAXIS-1, a skills test used in some other states. The assessments will help professors identify the students who need help with basic skills earlier on.

    “Given the new cut scores that are coming this fall, we are trying to understand where we are going to have to provide additional help,” Chou says.

    * Requiring schools of education to turn in data each year on program performance. The change starts this spring, and universities must also note any changes to their curricula and weaknesses they are trying to address.

    “This is a way to make sure they are on top of things on a regular basis,” says Patrick Murphy, an ISBE administrator for educator and school development. Data will be reviewed at State Teacher Certification Board meetings.

    *Limiting the number of times candidates can take any certification or endorsement test. As of February, it was capped at five. The cap was instituted because some candidates apparently were not taking the tests seriously, says Linda Tomlinson, assistant superintendent at ISBE. “They would sign up for multiple tests, almost with the idea of ‘I’ll keep taking it and I’ll pass it,’ ” Tomlinson says.

    *Toughening the content knowledge requirements for high school teachers. Currently, prospective teachers can earn most endorsements either by taking 32 hours of coursework at any level, or by taking 24 credit hours and passing an endorsement test. But starting in February 2012, all candidates will have to pass a content area test, and of the 24 required credit hours, half must be upper-division classes.

    Previously, candidates could take multiple freshman-level courses and “maybe they couldn’t meet the standards and have the depth of content knowledge we’d been asking for,” Tomlinson says. “There’s been research showing more content knowledge leads to more effective teaching.”

    High school science and social studies teachers, who have always had to take 32 credit hours and pass a subject test, will now be subject to even stricter requirements if they want to teach more than one subject in their field. For instance, a high school biology teacher who wants to begin teaching physics would simply have to pass a test to do so; now, they will have to earn at least 12 credit hours in physics as well as pass a test.

    http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/index.php/entry/693/New_requirements_make_it_tougher_to_become_a_teacher_in_Illinois
     
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  3. futureteach21

    futureteach21 Habitué

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    May 31, 2010

    Sounds good to me!
     
  4. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    May 31, 2010

    Interesting. This will anger some people, but frankly, I really like the idea. As a social studies teacher, I think that I *SHOULD* have had stricter requirements. My specialization is history, and was also my major. But because I passed the content tests, I was also able to teach geography. I have only 6 credit hours in geography, and quite frankly.... shouldn't be allowed to teach it. But last school year, I taught three periods of it. Granted, I don't anymore, and won't next year either.... but to be totally honest, I don't think I was qualified. Regardless of what the state says. I'm all for the changes...
     
  5. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    May 31, 2010

    Unfortunately, I've seen this gimmick before. What they'll do is lower the standards when the time comes that they have a teacher shortage. (And the teachers that met the tougher standard will be resentful of the new teachers then, and rightfully so.)
     
  6. Windy City

    Windy City Companion

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    I agree that Illinois should require more credits to teach certain areas. I'm shocked at posters from other states who will pay to take any exam, and if they pass, they can teach it! That just blows my mind. I had to have 24 credits in my endorsement area just to take the exam, and that's just a bonus for me since I teach elementary, and don't necessarily "need" it.

    I know that we can argue that credits don't replace real life experiences, but I would hope that my child's biology teacher would actually have a degree in biology.

    I fully support these stricter requirements and higher passing percentages on the certification exams.
     
  7. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    I also agree that requirements need to be more strict. As of now, I am "highly qualified" to teach a ridiculous amount of subjects that I have no business teaching. I work hard to stay current in the subjects I teach now. I hope I'm never asked or allowed to teach all the other subjects I'm "highly qualified" to teach. I'm glad Illinois is upping the standards for teachers because our students deserve the best!
     
  8. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    May 31, 2010

    They did something similar to this in Ohio. It ended up being very expensive, and time consuming for new teachers. They ended up disbanding the program this past year. I student taught in a school that had this program, and the teacher was a newer teacher. She had to spend hundreds of hours just developing the portfolio, which prevented her from doing a lot of real curriculum development/lesson planning.
     
  9. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    May 31, 2010

    In Kentucky, first-year teachers participate in the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program. In the end, among other things, the teacher has been observed nine times--three times by their mentor teacher within the school, three times by their principal or other member of adminstration, and three times by a university person--and created a massive binder. I forget how many, but quite a few number of hours spent between the new teacher and mentor teacher must be logged. Unfortunately, like they were in college, first year teachers who really need not belong to the profession are passed through despite all this work... It's a lovely sounding program, and that's all it is in too many circumstances.
     
  10. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    I had to have a portfolio to graduate. It was to show how I met 10 different standards of teaching. The problem was everyone else worked on them during the last two years of the college career. I took two years off and all I had left was one class and student teaching. So I had to cram two years of work into one semester.
     
  11. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    This is what happened in Ohio. I asked my professor (who observed teachers for this program, before she was a professor) if she knew of someone not passing this first year teachers program. She said she couldn't think of anyone, as long as they turned in the proper forms, etc. Did I mention this professor only taught for 5 years.
     
  12. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    So if more knowledge of a particular subject makes a more effective teacher (which I agree with for the most part), why don't they allow those with degrees in History, Biology, or whatever the subject to teach those subjects?

    Granted, they should have to take some teaching methods & classroom management classes...

    I doubt this will improve anything on a substantial level.
     
  13. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    They do, don't they? I thought that's what alternative certification was all about. Do your student teaching/pedagogy classes and be done with it. I also think you can get away without certification in a lot of private schools, but they're probably being more picky now since so many teachers are laid off.
     
  14. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    The content knowledge research is more about extended content area learning. At least I know that teachers who get a masters in math, science, etc increase student learning more than a teacher who receives a masters in education.
     
  15. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Works for me. Making it more difficult to get the license cuts down the pool of candidates.


    Supply and demand economics. They will have to up salaries to retain who they have and to make it more attractive to new hires.





    On the subject of observations, I have to laugh. My first year we had a senior teacher 2 months from retirement (medical event in her lift) was to observe and assist. I was also on an alternative license so I had several mandatory observations for that. Then there were the district's requirements on new teachers and my graduate program's requirements.

    I stopped counting after I reached 20 observations in the 1st semester. One of my classes was observed 6 times in a period of 8 days. It got pretty comical.
     
  16. sumnerfan

    sumnerfan Comrade

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    I think they need to teach the skills that teachers really need to be successful. There are just so many areas of teaching that are skimmed over or not touched at all in education classes.
     
  17. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    I don't have a problem with upping the requirements to be a teacher. I just think that they are creating an expensive program that won't really help teachers be better teachers.

    Also, many states/cities are cutting teacher pay. (Public opinion in many of those areas is to cap teacher pay.) They aren't going to raise teacher pay; they are just going to create an expensive program. I'm not judging the program as a failure, I'm just saying it's not going to be cheap.
     
  18. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    It was meant tongue in cheek ms.


    If you demanded a larger more luxurious home from your builder, would you expect to get it AND cut what you pay him by 5% or more?

    If you demanded a medical specialist treat your condition instead of a general practitioner, would you expect to pay him less?

    If you want better roads, stronger bridges, more reliable water/ waste water systems do you still expect it when you cut funding to it?


    This is the stupidity of the entire situation. We want higher achievement and more academic curriculum covered.....NAY....we DEMAND IT. Next meeting....We don't have money so we're cutting the funding.


    I find it rather ironic that the only setting where people think this actually makes sense is the setting that tries to teach people how to think.
     
  19. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    I realize this may be different in other states ...

    The single subject exams in California do let you add endorsements (ie. if your credential is English you can pass a Science test and teach Science). BUT, at least in California, these tests are extremely difficult. They cover the content you'd learn if you got your degree in a particular subject. I got my degree in English, and studying for the English subject matter exam was like repeating my degree! You can't just decide one day to take a few Science classes and think you can pass the Science subject matter test. Even the exams for the "lighter" subjects like Art are not for amateurs. You really have to know the subject thoroughly.
     
  20. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    I second what Special-T said.

    Also, I believe, in CA, you can take the subject matter test to add a supplemental credential, but you can only teach the subject up to 9th grade. If you take the extra course work, THEN you can add a "real" second subject.
     
  21. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    Jun 3, 2010

    Oops! Sorry! :D I agree w/ you! The problem is there are too many politicians with crazy ideas, who have no idea about what goes on in school. There was a governor in the primaries (who was the top runner) who wanted to remove every single ESD in the state. His "great" idea was have schools take care of their work, with no additional funding.
     

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