Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

'REPA II' Redux: What's Changed In The Teacher Licensure Proposal Since The Public Weighed In

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

State superintendent Tony Bennett speaks during the State Board of Education's meeting in October.

After months of debate, sweeping changes to the state rules governing how Indiana educators earn licenses and certifications could get a final up-or-down vote from the State Board of Education later this week.

(Bear with us, non-wonky readers. We’re about to get wonky. But this is a pretty big deal.)

Known in shorthand as “REPA II,” state education officials have advocated for the changes as a means of providing more flexibility to administrators in the teacher hiring process.

Debate over the proposal has been contentious. Opponents fear the rules would “de-professionalize” Indiana’s teaching ranks. They’ve called for the State Board to table REPA II out of deference to state superintendent-elect Glenda Ritz, who also opposes the proposed changes.

But on Friday, state education officials also unveiled several changes to the proposal — which doesn’t require a General Assembly vote to become official policy — that dial back a few of REPA II’s most controversial points. 

Upon cursory first glance, a few of the changes — as outlined by Indiana Department of Education officials here — stick out:

  • Evaluations. State education officials have removed language that would have coupled teacher evaluation data with most teachers’ ability to renew their licenses. (The proposal retains the “adjunct permit,” which would allow anyone who earned a four-year college degree with a 3.0 GPA to earn a credential allowing them hold a teaching job, provided they can pass an exam first. In that case, evaluation data would still be used to determine whether an adjunct permit-holder could retain his license.)
  • Content Area Exams. Teachers have long earned content area licenses in subjects from social studies to psychology to family and consumer sciences. State officials wanted to allow teachers who already held a license to be able to add a certification to teach additional subject areas by simply taking a test. In some areas, the proposal still allows for teachers to ‘test in’ in this manner. But after “recognizing a high volume of concerns expressed during public comment” about this provision, state education officials added several limits to this provision. Now, teachers will not be able to add content areas for “exceptional needs/special education… communication disorders, elementary education, and early childhood education” by only taking a test.
  • Emergency Permits. Because “public comments expressed concern about training and accountability for teachers holding emergency permits,” state officials added a requirement that teachers receiving emergency permits must have a Bachelors degree and be taking coursework that has them on track for full licensure.
  • Administrator Licensure. State officials tweaked the language in several portions of the proposal that emphasize experience in higher education, such as here in the portion explaining changes to a section on administrator licensure:

Changing the teaching experience prerequisite will open access to school administration to license holders with higher education experience. The elimination of the Ed.S. degree for superintendent licensure will open up access to district leadership positions while maintaining a level of preparation and academic credentials commensurate with the responsibility and authority held by a superintendent. For those uniquely qualified individuals who may not hold graduate degrees but who have the knowledge, skills and experience for school or district administration, a local school board may apply for a Temporary BLA or Temporary Superintendent license.

  • State Board Authority. The redone proposal “shift[s] the authority for approving programs from IDOE to the [State Board of Education].” State officials say this is “consistent with public comment.”

A word about procedure: REPA II is being considered through the executive rule-making process. It’s a lengthy process, requiring an executive agency to publish proposed rule changes well beforehand, allowing for a period of public comment. After the executive branch department makes changes, state officials change the proposal based on the comments and put the changes to an executive panel — in this case, the State Board of Education, for a vote.

Here’s the Indiana Department of Education’s outline of the proposed changes:

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/cathy.fuentesrohwer Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer

    Kyle. Your article ends with “here’s the outline of their proposed changes” but I don’t see an outline. Is that my computer or is that me? Also.. How long can someone have an “adjunct license” ? I don’t completely understand that. What is it for (in their justification) ? Emergency teachers needed?

  • Susie Highley

    It’s a shame that the middle school license is still eliminated in the revision. Teachers will qualify via content. I feel like my elementary coursework with middle school science endorsement was worthwhile, both for my BA and MS. Middle school is such a crucial time for many kids, but it’s being treated like a one size fits all.

  • Karynb9

    I think one of the problems that led to REPA 2 and to all of the “Transition to Teaching” programs out there is the incorrect belief by so many in the public that secondary education majors just take “fluff classes” in college with no real meat to their coursework. The public has been led to believe that someone who majored in biology or who majored in accounting is as qualified if not even more so than a science education major or a math education major to teach science or math because the accounting or biology degrees are so much harder. However, when you look at the actual coursework required to obtain secondary education degrees, about 90% of the requirements that are different are in the ELECTIVES and NOT in the actual content-related courses. A “mathematics education” major at most Indiana colleges takes only two or three fewer actual college-level math classes than a “mathematics” major — still taking PLENTY of 300-level and 400-level math courses (sitting right next to the straight “mathematics” major students…and often TUTORING many of the straight “mathematics” students in some of the classes, as a matter of fact) that are a more-than-adequate preparation for teaching Advanced Placement and even dual-credit math classes to high school students. The difference is that while the “mathematics” major has his or her choice of a whole menu of electives (most of which have nothing to do with math) to fill out the remaining credits required for a B.S., a “mathematics education” major is locked into taking elective courses related to technology in education, special education law, math pedagogy, psychology of childhood and adolescence, classroom observations, student teaching experiences, etc. Degrees in secondary science education are similar — plenty of high-level science classes with electives that are geared toward education. Teachers aren’t idiots who were too dumb to get a “real job” in their area of interest.

    Now, what people opposing REPA 2 need to realize is that there is nothing in the law that is requiring school districts to HIRE people who earned teaching licenses through the REPA 2 loopholes — I imagine that the vast majority of school districts in the state aren’t going to be willing to let those people step into the classroom for the very first time as teachers in THEIR schools. So, I don’t think our schools are going to be flooded with people who decided they’d study hard for a few weeks to pass the test to be a teacher because they kinda like the idea of getting their summers off. School districts are NOT asking for these REPA 2 guidelines to pass and they’re actually speaking AGAINST them in large numbers. A teaching license without a teaching JOB is just a piece of paper.

  • Greg Baker

    I am so disgusted that that coward, outgoing Indiana Superintendent
    of Education Tony “The Bull” Bennett” would push through REPA II instead of tabling
    it until the new Superintendent Glenda Ritz was in office. What a coward, he put his petty little narcissistic needs ahead of school children in Indiana and is essentially putting Indiana on a course to de-professionalize the teaching profession. Instead of Indiana moving forward in education we are now moving backward and will certainly become the laughingstock of education in the United States. We have a very cooperate downsizing, lower the pay mentality at the State Board of Education and we are looking to turn our professional teachers into the equivalent of shift works at a fast food restaurant, turning teaching careers into jobs not much different than the jobs of the teenage students we teach.

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education