PA 15-108—sSB 1098

Education Committee

Appropriations Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING TEACHER CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR SHORTAGE AREAS, INTERSTATE AGREEMENTS FOR TEACHER CERTIFICATION RECIPROCITY, MINORITY TEACHER RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION AND CULTURAL COMPETENCY INSTRUCTION

SUMMARY: This act decreases, from three to two, the years of teaching experience an out-of-state teacher needs to qualify for a professional teacher certificate. Certification is the credential that permits a person to teach in Connecticut public schools.

The act also:

1. allows teacher shortage area applicants to receive 90-day temporary teacher certificates (see BACKGROUND), as the law already allows for those who finish an alternative route to certification (ARC) program;

2. requires the State Department of Education (SDE) to establish or join interstate agreements to facilitate certification of qualified out–of-state teachers;

3. creates an 11-member minority teacher recruitment task force and requires it to report its findings and recommendations to the Education Committee by February 1, 2016;

4. requires the Office of Higher Education (OHE) to issue an annual demographics report on candidates enrolled in teacher preparation programs;

5. adds training in cultural competency to the teacher preparation and in-service training requirements; and

6. makes technical and conforming changes to teacher certification laws.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015, except the minority teacher recruitment task force section is effective upon passage.

1 — TEMPORARY TEACHER CERTIFICATION AND TEACHER SHORTAGE AREAS

Existing law requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to grant a 90-day temporary teacher certificate to an applicant at the employing board of education's request if he or she, among other things, successfully completes an ARC program. The act requires SBE to also grant such temporary certification to applicants in teacher shortage areas who meet the same criteria (see BACKGROUND). ARC programs allow participants to attain teacher certification without completing a regular teacher preparation program.

Under prior law, the temporary certificate was only available for education endorsement areas of elementary, middle grades, secondary academic subjects, special subjects or fields, special education, early childhood, and administration and supervision. It is unclear if the act expands the types of certification endorsement areas that can be granted, as any shortage area would already be covered by the broad ranges of endorsements in law.

2 — TEACHER CERTIFICATION INTERSTATE AGREEMENTS

The act requires, rather than permits, SDE to establish or join interstate agreements to facilitate certification of qualified out-of-state teachers.

It also requires SBE to issue an initial Connecticut teacher certification to an out-of-state teacher if the applicant:

1. meets all the conditions of the interstate agreement;

2. taught and held an appropriate certification in another state or U. S. territory or possession, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico; and

3. fulfills any appropriate post-preparation assessment the education commissioner requires.

The act eliminates the requirement that these applicants fulfill the SBE-approved teacher testing requirements, instead requiring them to fulfill the commissioner-required assessments mentioned above. The act continues to require applicants to hold at least a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university but waives the requirement under existing law that they have a subject-area major as defined by SBE.

3 — OUT-OF-STATE TEACHERS AND PROFESSONAL CERTIFICATION

The act reduces the required teaching experience, from three to two years within the last 10, for out-of-state applicants for professional certification. By law, applicants must meet additional requirements, including holding national board certification and a master's degree in an endorsement area related to the applicant's certification endorsement area. By law, in-state public school teachers must work three years before qualifying for professional certification.

By law, new teachers must complete a beginning teacher program. For in-state private school teachers and out-of-state teachers, the act reduces, from three to two years in the last 10, the experience required in order to be exempt from the program, provided the teacher can show effectiveness as a teacher as SBE determines, which may include a record of improving student achievement.

4 — TEACHER CERTIFICATION REGULATIONS

By law, SBE teacher certification regulations must require applicants for initial certification with an elementary school endorsement to complete a survey course in U. S. history. The act requires the regulations to permit such applicants to substitute a satisfactory evaluation on an SBE-approved subject-area assessment in place of the history course.

MINORITY TEACHER RECRUITMENT

5 — Minority Teacher Recruitment Task Force and Study

The act creates an 11-member minority teacher recruitment task force to study and develop strategies to increase and improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of minority teachers in Connecticut public schools. Under the act, “minority” means an individual whose race is other than white or whose ethnicity is defined by the U. S. Census Bureau as Hispanic or Latino.

The study must, at a minimum, examine current statewide and school district demographics and review best practices.

Under the act, the six legislative leaders each appoint one task force member, any of whom may be legislators. The House majority leader must appoint a legislator who is a member of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus.

Additional members are the:

1. education commissioner or her designee;

2. Board of Regents for Higher Education president or his designee; and

3. executive directors of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, African-American Affairs Commission, and Commission on Children, or their respective designees.

Appointing authorities must make their appointments by June 23, 2015 and must fill any vacancies.

The House speaker and the Senate president pro tempore must select the chairpersons from among the task force members. The chairpersons must schedule and hold the task force's first meeting by August 22, 2015. The Education Committee's administrative staff serves as the task force's administrative staff.

The task force must report its findings and recommendations to the Education Committee by February 1, 2016. The task force terminates on the date it submits its report or February 1, 2016, whichever is later.

6 — Annual Teacher Demographics Report

The act requires OHE, by July 1, 2015, to begin annually reporting to the Education Committee and SBE on teacher candidate demographics in teacher preparation programs offered at Connecticut colleges and universities. The report must include teacher candidate enrollment by subgroups (e. g. , race, ethnicity, and gender) with respect to the recruitment, preparation, and retention of quality minority teachers.

8 — Expanding Eligible Alliance District Activities to Include Minority Teacher Recruitment

Existing law requires each alliance district to submit for SDE approval a plan describing how it will use alliance district aid to improve the district's performance. The act adds strategies for attracting and recruiting minority teachers and administrators to the statutory list of possible uses. Alliance districts are the 30 districts in the state with the lowest district performance index, which is the weighted measure of student mastery test scores by district.

7 — ALLIANCE DISTRICTS AND AID FOR NEW EDUCATORS

Prior law required SDE to establish a municipal aid for new educators (MANE) program, within available appropriations, to enable education reform districts to extend job offers to up to five students graduating in the top 10% of their class from in-state public or private teacher preparation programs. The act expands the program to include the 30 alliance districts, instead of just the 10 education reform districts. It also eliminates the five-student cap and allows alliance districts to extend job offers to students graduating from out-of-state programs.

9 & 10 — TRAINING IN CULTURAL COMPETENCY

The act adds a cultural competency component to teacher preparation programs and in-service training.

By law, prospective teachers must complete a teacher preparation program that includes instruction in classroom and behavior management and children's social and emotional development and learning, among other topics. Additionally, local or regional boards of education must provide in-service training to teachers in a number of areas, including health and mental health risk reduction education and school violence prevention, among others. The act adds cultural competency to the required topics in both areas. This training must include instruction on awareness of student background and experience in order to develop skills, knowledge, and behaviors that enable teachers and students to build positive relationships and work effectively in cross-cultural situations.

BACKGROUND

Teacher Shortage Areas

By law, the education commissioner must annually determine the anticipated teacher shortage areas based on vacancies, retirements, and the expected quantity and quality of new applicants. By law and regulation, shortage area applicants can qualify for a one-year durational shortage area teaching permit, which allows the applicant to teach in Connecticut but is not fully equivalent to a certification.

90-Day Temporary Teaching Certificate

By law, to be granted a temporary certificate, an applicant must:

1. hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited higher education institution with a major either in, or closely related to, the certification endorsement area;

2. pass or qualify for a waiver of the standard competency examination and pass an appropriate subject matter examination;

3. present a written application as the education commissioner prescribes;

4. successfully complete an ARC program;

5. possess an undergraduate or, where appropriate, graduate degree with an overall grade point average of at least a “B”; and

6. present supporting evidence of appropriate experience working with children.

The commissioner may waive the last two requirements upon showing of good cause. The sponsoring board of education must attest that it has a special supervision plan for any holders of 90-day-temporary certificates.

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