PA 16-41—SB 379

Education Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE MINORITY TEACHER RECRUITMENT TASK FORCE

SUMMARY: This act makes changes to the laws affecting the entrance requirements for teacher preparation programs and the minority teacher recruitment task force. It also requires the State Department of Education (SDE) to take several actions regarding minority teacher recruitment, teacher certification, and alternative route to teacher certification (ARC) programs.

Under prior law, an applicant had to receive a satisfactory score on the State Board of Education (SBE)-prescribed reading, writing, and math competency exam (known as the Praxis exam) to be admitted into an SBE-approved teacher preparation program. The act eliminates this requirement and instead requires that all those accepted in these programs take the test and the results be used as a diagnostic tool for the applicant while in the program.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage for the task force changes ( 1) and the new SBE teacher preparation remedial guidelines ( 5); July 1, 2016 for the other provisions.

1 — MINORITY TEACHER RECRUITMENT TASK FORCE

PA 15-108 created 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.

The act (1) extends the task force's duration until January 1, 2026; (2) extends, from February 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, the deadline by which the task force must report to the Education Committee; (3) expands the task force's mission to include an analysis of the causes of Connecticut's minority teacher shortage; and (4) adds the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (APAAC) executive director, or her designee, to the task force. (PA 16-3, May Special Session, 127, 128, and 131 merges the APAAC with the African-American Affairs Commission and the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission to form the Commission on Equity and Opportunity (CEO) and changes references in any 2016 public act from APAAC to the new CEO. Thus the appointment in PA 16-41 now comes from CEO. )

2 — MINORITY TEACHER RECRUITMENT POLICY OVERSIGHT COUNCIL

The act establishes the Minority Teacher Recruitment Policy Oversight Council within SDE and requires it to meet at least quarterly and advise the education commissioner on a number of activities related to minority teacher recruitment. For this portion of the act, “minority” means someone whose race is defined as other than white, or whose ethnicity is defined as Hispanic or Latino by the federal Office of Management and Budget for U. S. Census use.

Under the act, the council membership consists of:

1. the education commissioner, or her designee;

2. two representatives from the minority teacher recruitment task force;

3. one representative from each of the teachers' unions and the administrators' union;

4. the Board of Regents for Higher Education president, or his designee; and

5. a representative from an ARC program, appointed by the education commissioner.

The act requires the council to advise the commissioner on ways to:

1. encourage minority middle and secondary school students to attend institutions of higher education and enter teacher preparation programs,

2. recruit minority students attending institutions of higher education to enroll in teacher preparation programs and pursue teaching careers,

3. recruit and retain minority teachers in Connecticut schools,

4. recruit minority teachers from other states to teach in Connecticut, and

5. recruit minority professionals from other fields to enter teaching.

The council must annually report the recommendations it gives the commissioner to the Education Committee. The act does not provide a deadline for these reports.

3 — SURVEY OF MINORITY TEACHER RECRUITMENT PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS

By January 1, 2017 and annually thereafter, the act requires SDE to survey students participating in minority teacher recruitment programs offered by Connecticut regional educational service centers (RESCs) or public institutions of higher education. The survey must include questions addressing the components and effectiveness of the minority teacher recruitment program. SDE must annually report the survey results and findings to the Education Committee. The act does not provide a deadline for these reports.

4 & 5 — PRAXIS TEST REMOVED AS REQUIREMENT FOR ENTRY INTO TEACHER PREPARATION PROGRAMS

Under prior law, an applicant had to receive a satisfactory score on the SBE-prescribed reading, writing, and math competency exam to be admitted into an SBE-approved teacher preparation program. (The exam is known as the Praxis test, see BACKGROUND. ) The act eliminates this requirement and instead requires that (1) all those accepted in a teacher preparation program take the test and (2) the results be used as a diagnostic tool, in accordance with new remedial instruction guidelines the act requires SBE to adopt, while the applicant is in the program. Thus, the act removes the statutory requirement for admissions in teacher preparation programs (the programs otherwise set their own admission requirements).

The act requires SBE to adopt remedial instruction guidelines related to the competency exam scores by January 1, 2017. The guidelines must establish standards for using the exam scores as a diagnostic tool to provide any remedial instruction in areas identified through the scores to students enrolled in a teacher preparation program. Under the act, SBE may revise and update the guidelines as necessary.

The act also make conforming changes, including eliminating the competency exam waivers.

6 — REPORT ASSESSING EFFECTIVENESS OF MINORITY TEACHER RECRUITMENT PROGRAMS

The act requires SDE, by July 1, 2017 and annually thereafter, to submit a report to the Appropriations and Education committees that assesses the effectiveness of state minority teacher recruitment programs using results-based accountability measures. The minority teacher recruitment programs include those administered by RESCs and the minority teacher incentive program administered by the Office of Higher Education (OHE).

7 — SCHOOL SUPPORT STAFF ALTERNATIVE ROUTE TO CERTIFICATION

The act requires SDE to review and approve proposals to create ARC programs for school support staff, defined as board certified behavior analysts or board certified assistant behavior analysts, athletic coaches, and school paraprofessionals.

To be approved under the act, an ARC program must:

1. be provided by a public or independent institution of higher education, a local or regional board of education, a RESC, or an SBE-approved private nonprofit teacher or administrator training organization;

2. accept only participants who (a) hold a bachelor's degree from a state or regionally accredited institution of higher education, (b) have been employed by a local or regional board of education for at least 40 school months (four school years) as school support staff, and (c) are recommended by their immediate supervisor or district administrator on the basis of their performance;

3. require each participant to complete a one-year residency that requires the participant to serve (a) in a position requiring professional certification and (b) in a full-time position for 10 school months at a local or regional board of education under the supervision of a certified administrator or teacher and a supervisor from the institution or organization providing the ARC program; and

4. meet other criteria as the department requires.

Initial Educator Certificate

The act requires SBE to award an initial educator certificate beginning July 1, 2016, on receipt of a proper application to any person who (1) successfully completed the ARC program under the act's provisions and (2) achieves a satisfactory evaluation on an appropriate subject area assessment approved by SBE. By law, SBE grants three levels of educator certificate (initial, provisional, or professional) based on the applicant's qualifications.

The initial educator certificate issued under the act is valid for three years.

Master's Degree Deadline

The act sets a five-year deadline to earn a master's degree for a person awarded an initial educator certificate through the ARC program who seeks to obtain a professional educator certificate. By law, an applicant must hold a master's degree, among other requirements, in order to be awarded a professional educator certificate.

Under the act, if the person does not obtain a master's degree within the five years, he or she will not be eligible for a professional educator certificate.

8 — CERTIFICATION FOR OUT-OF-STATE TEACHERS

Under prior law, an out-of-state teacher could be awarded a professional educator certificate in Connecticut if he or she met certain criteria. The act modifies the criteria and makes the certification awarded a provisional rather than a professional certification. (Provisional is the middle level certification in Connecticut's three level system. )

The act eliminates the requirement that out-of-state teachers:

1. be nationally board certified and

2. hold a master's degree in an appropriate subject matter area as determined by SDE.

It replaces those with requirements that the applicant must have

1. received at least two satisfactory performance evaluations while teaching in another state, territory, U. S. possession, District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico and

2. fulfilled post-preparation assessments as approved by the education commissioner.

The act also exempts an applicant who has successfully completed a teacher preparation program or an ARC program in another state, territory, U. S. possession, District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico from having to complete a course of study in special education, as otherwise required under teacher certification law.

9 – TEACHER CERTIFICATION INTERSTATE AGREEMENTS

By law, the education commissioner can establish or join interstate agreements with other states or jurisdictions to facilitate the Connecticut certification of qualified teachers from other states or jurisdictions. The act removes the criteria that such agreements require that the applicants (1) have taught under an appropriate certificate issued by another state, territory, or possession of the U. S. , the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico and (2) meet all other conditions of the interstate agreement. It instead requires that the applicant successfully complete an approved educator preparation program. The act leaves unchanged the criteria that these applicants (1) hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and (2) have fulfilled post-preparation tests the commissioner approves. For purposes of interstate agreements or recognition statements, a “state” means another state, territory, possession of the U. S. , the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico.

Under prior law, SBE had to issue an initial educator certificate to an out-of-state applicant who satisfied the interstate agreement's requirements. Under the act, SBE must instead grant any appropriate level of educator certificate (initial, provisional, or professional) to an applicant who satisfies the agreement and based on the applicant's qualifications.

The act also provides that when the commissioner is unable to establish or join an interstate agreement with another state, she may create and make available a recognition statement that specifies the states, assessments, and educator preparation programs that she will recognize for purposes of issuing teacher certification.

BACKGROUND

Praxis Exams

Receiving a passing score, as set by SDE, on certain Praxis exams is one requirement for teacher certification. In Connecticut most teachers must pass a general Praxis competency exam and a more specific subject matter exam (there are some waivers to the Praxis requirement). Praxis exams, a product of the Educational Testing Service, are used by more than 40 state education departments in teacher licensing.

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