Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Want To Teach In Indiana? Without An Ed Degree, You'll (Still) Need Some Training

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

State superintendent Tony Bennett (center) and State Board of Education members discuss the REPA II proposal at their meeting in Indianapolis on Dec. 5.

You don’t have to have a degree in education to become a teacher in Indiana — a fact the State Board of Education underscored last month.

But after a last-minute addendum to a package of changes to the state’s teacher licensing rules, known as “REPA II,” non-education majors will need to receive training on teaching strategies in order to keep a teaching job.

That’s an eleventh-hour change to the REPA II package, which the State Board already approved in principle by a 9-2 vote in early December.

Late last week, state education officials put the change on paper, meaning the Board will have to take one last vote on the final piece of REPA II at its meeting Wednesday.

That final piece dials back a controversial provision of the package, called an “adjunct permit.”

As initially proposed, anyone who earned a Bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA could have taken an exam to earn the credential. It’s not exactly a teaching license, but it’s enough for anyone who gets good evaluation ratings to hold down a teaching job.

But the final change — which board member Neil Pickett proposed just minutes before a final vote on the REPA II package — adds a requirement that teachers must complete a “pedagogy requirement” if they wish to keep their jobs.

What ‘Non-Traditional’ Teachers Will Have To Learn

According to the final language, if a permit-holder wants to renew his license in five years, he’ll need to receive training in these areas:

  • Literacy for adolescents in content areas and across the curriculum based on scientifically-based reading research”
  • Differentiation of instruction and instructional methods, including methods for students with exceptional needs” (Differentiation is basically edu-speak for teaching a bunch of students of differing ability levels at once.)
  • Classroom and behavioral management, including legal rights and responsibilities of teacher and student”
  • Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

    A teacher at Christel House Academy in Indianapolis.

    Curriculum development, lesson planning, assessment strategies and using data to inform instruction

  • Psychology of child development, including the development of exceptional needs students”
  • “Competence in multicultural awareness and technology as an aid to education

Where will teachers receive this training? They could receive it in the school itself, “through school-based professional development,” through a college, or a “professional education organization.”

Some Context

The above requirements should look familiar to one demographic: vocational education teachers.

As we pointed out in our initial story, the “workplace specialist” license allows for someone who has experience in an occupation — but not not an education degree — to receive a teaching credential. Workplace specialists have to complete professional development courses if they want to keep their licenses.

The adjunct permit riled officials at the state’s higher education institutions, among others, who charged the adjunct permit would “de-professionalize” teaching in Indiana. They also say it was inappropriate for the State Board to have passed the rules despite opposition from incoming state superintendent Glenda Ritz. Her concerns about REPA II became central issues of her campaign.

But REPA II supporters say the new rules place greater importance on teachers having robust knowledge of the content areas they’re teaching. Schools and districts, they say, will not necessarily hire teachers with adjunct permits in large numbers, but need the flexibility to hire the best non-traditional applicants for teaching jobs.

We break down the arguments, pro and con, in more detail here and here.



  • Brenda L Yoder, MA

    I’m thankful for the additions but disheartened all the same. Transition to teaching programs already allowed for non traditional professionals to be licensed. Teaching is a highly crafted art in itself. Content without proper teaching methods does not yield exemplary results.

    • PhDinEd

      Brenda, I share your concerns. Even with its new rules for the “adjunct” certificate, this is not adequate preparation for teachers.

      In a transition to teaching program (like the one in which I teach), students spend at least a year taking courses on pedagogy BEFORE they are licensed. The new adjunct rules say they have 5 years to get this “education.” This means an unprepared individual could be teaching for five years with no training!

      5 Years??? The average career for graduates of these programs have shown an average retention rate of less than this!! As it turns out, many of the transitional students have discovered that teaching is too hard or stressful AFTER taking courses to prepare them… or that they could make more money in some other career. So saying “let’s give the new adjunct teachers 5 years” does NOTHING to help this situation!

      And the rule says they can meet the requirement to learn about pedagogy through professional development workshops or “at the school?” Will “on-the-job” experience be counted?? If so, they may not be learning the best research-based pedagogy.

      And don’t forget… the new rules are not rules yet. The revision has been proposed AFTER the REPA II rules were approved, may not be passed tomorrow. The person leading this meeting, Tony Bennett, was able to push through other changes in REPA II that could ONLY be intended to hamstring his successor. A few days before the Board approved REPA II, he rolled out changes that explicitly took away ANY authority of the State Superintendent to approve teacher education programs and changes to licensure rules.

      What would ever make us think Tony Bennett will support changes to undo what he has already done to our schools???

    • openyoureyes

      Non traditional professionals? 3 years out of University (3.6 gpa Psychology) I have held 7 different jobs and have lived and studied in Spain to make myself fluent in Spanish. I’ve been working as a substitute a year now daily in one of the toughest districts in the state teaching all ages and for up to 3 months in long term positions. Being called every name in the book + the experiences of a year of work and speaking with different teachers every day and asking questions, along with having attended professional language school abroad, this shouldn’t allow me to practice this “highly crafted art”? Probably people like me have more experience than someone licensed in a high performing, low discipline district where the teachers don’t need to do much any ways.

      You didn’t seem to post any data to back up your argument that I should be kept out. So tell me ma’am, what are you so afraid of?

  • Melly

    We’ve made a total and complete turnaround. We went from requiring teachers to get their master’s degrees within a certain number of years to KEEP a teaching position to hardly caring if they have any knowledge of the teaching process at all. And this is called ‘reform’? It’s certainly not called ‘improvement.’

  • Dr. V.

    I really do think it’s shortsighted to allow people who have not gone to
    education school to be teaching our children. I know this from personal experience, for I was the very worst 7th grade teacher Indianapolis has ever had, and I have never taken a course in Education. There’s certainly nothing wrong with Indiana education that a little more teacher training couldn’t solve! Training’s the thing, not experience.

    Yes, I had teaching experience. When I arrived in Indianapolis, I’d taught Classics to undergraduates and to graduate students for eight years.

    Was I prepared?
    Heck, NO.

    I hadn’t taught in any room infested with mice and ants, and I didn’t know what
    to do about them. I’d never been stuck in a windowless room all day every day, and had no idea it might be bad for me. It had not been my experience that classroom decorations would routinely be stolen, defaced, or destroyed within days of their posting.

    I’d never been responsible for tracking and documenting the tardiness, violence, and
    urinary habits of my students. It had never occurred to me that I would hear the phrase “Ain’t got no pencil.” more than a dozen times a day. In my eight years as college teacher, nobody had ever thrown anything at me – bar a delicious brownie, which I caught and ate. At my school in Indianapolis, however, I was a target for
    balls of paper, paper airplanes, the occasional pencil or piece of chalk, at
    least two apples, and – worst of all, a matchbox car, which hit me on my face,
    right by my eye, and left a permanent mark.

    Nothing in my grad school training for teaching to undergrads had led me to
    expect that in order to be granted a provisional license to teach anything at all to twelve-year-olds, I would be required to pass a standardized test of algebra, learn CPR, and have my criminal background tested. (All of the above, with the exception of the algebra, I rather enjoyed.)

    The janitorial component of the job came as something of a surprise; the only help
    I ever got with dealing with the vile, obscene, personally-insulting, and
    rather poorly spelled graffiti was a tip from the Dean on where I could most
    cheaply buy Magic Sponges with my own money.

    Before I came to my school, nobody had ever called me Mrs. V. more than once. I’m Dr. V. There is no Mrs. V. Mrs. V. was my late mother.

    When physically threatened by extremely large seventh graders, I simply
    panicked. When one student assigned a seat she didn’t like, she proceeded simply to pick up her desk and throw it at the wall.

    All of my private research into “classroom management skills,” yielded almost
    nothing in the way of useful or practicable strategies. Most of the texts and videos I looked at seemed to be purely idiotic, or perhaps targeted at a saner clientele than
    were my little cherubs.

    Nobody had ever told me that I would be expected to provide students with lotion,
    bandages, alcohol pads, hand-sanitizer, pencils, paper, notebooks, tissue, and
    the occasional snack. Nor had anyone mentioned that if I did not have ample supplies of all of these, the students would get shirty about it.

    I had never before been in a faculty meeting where nobody was expected or allowed
    to talk except for the person who had convened it.

    After my years in higher education, doublethink was naturally nothing new to me, but
    in my school job it reached levels I’d never imagined could co-exist with
    baseline sanity. Being forced to sign in every morning before 7:00 am was, insisted the principal, an “honor.” We were expected to document and report student misbehavior, but our evaluations would suffer badly if we did it too frequently. Yet nobody was willing to say how much constituted too much. No reports at all would have been dereliction of duty, but too many were evidence of incompetence. Had I been sufficiently magical, properly trained, and wonderful, it seems, children’s special needs of the more violent sort would simply have gone away, you see, or I’d have at least known enough to prevent nasty incidents from occurring. Somehow.

    Had I only gone to Ed School! I am sure everything would have been better if I’d been properly prepared!

  • Jim McClain

    “Differentiation is basically edu-speak for teaching a bunch of students of differing ability levels at once.”

    No, that’s not what it means. It also applies to different modes of learning. Some students are visual learners. Some learn better by listening. Some are tactile learners. This kind of reporting is why people think that anyone can just walk in the door and be a teacher. You actually have to know this stuff BEORE you are entrusted with the education of students. Do you also call a myocardial infarction “medi-speak?”

  • Tracey

    I personally like the fact that if you did not go to school for teaching you can still do it. I feel that people should be happy about this program because of the shortage of teachers. I myself wanted to go to school for teaching but instead majored in business. I will definitely take advantage of this program!

    • Aliyah Duncan-Neely

      Not only is there a shortage of teachers but there is a shortage of good teachers who act like they care about the students. I am a sub, working on an MA in Public Administration/Organizational Leadership. My mother was a teacher, my grandmother was a teacher and I swore I would never be one. However, I needed a part time job and there was high absenteeism in my district, especially in the winter months. With strong math background from a three year stint in an engineering school and 4 years of bookkeeping experience and having raised 5 daughters, home-schooled 2 and tutored at the college level in calculus, I guess they figured I had enough experience. What I am learning about in my non-educational MA degree is that teachers are often not effectively taught the concept of differentiation in relationship to culturally based learning differences, they are only being taught that those differences exist, not why. This is why those students who are marginalized need a voice in their schools.(I have so much experience (I could teach the PhD level teachers), it’s scary. Of course I am 54 years old not 24. I am a grandmother of 5 grandchildren and in better physical shape than many of the professional teachers I know and work beside. That being said, I can still relate to the problem teachers face daily (and the students) and feel that there is a great need for professional development (hence the high absentee rate for the teachers in my district; they are, gratefully, being trained). Excuse the run-on paragraph/sentences (and no, I am not editing this blog), but I must add that I have worked with the gamut of good to nasty tempered teachers. I think that implementing incentives for teachers might be one way of relieving this problem but in schools where violence, theft and vandalism is an ongoing problem, teachers must have more than just incentive, they must have a voice (just like the kids) and state support. Unfortunately, a bit of extra training is not going to make a lot of difference to most kids or most teachers, not really; although some of the less experienced teachers might see it as a slap in the face since they have gone to school for years, and then submitted to countless hours of professional development, only to have to share their schools with the untrained. On the other hand, I think it is healthy for the school districts and the teachers to share their schools with the untrained. Why, you may ask? Because the districts could not afford to hire a trained, licensed teacher every time it needs a sub to cover for a licensed teacher’s professional development hours outside the classroom. A sub comes cheap, submits to a background check and must be dedicated to work for next to nothing at the drop of a hat (minimum wage in Indiana for a TA sub, and about 9.50/hr for a regular teacher sub in any grade. Maybe it’s just in my county, I’m not sure about the state-wide rates. No I’m not complaining. I love the kids and I love teaching them. I think some teachers are out of touch in spite of all that professional development.You really can’t buy a good teacher, they are hard to find and should be appreciated when we do find them. I don’t think this is necessarily the way to go about it.

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 »