Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Superintendent-Elect Ritz Still Critical Of REPA II After Board Tightens Rules

    Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

    Outgoing state superintendent Tony Bennett, left, and State Board of Education member Tony Walker discuss Bennett's time in office during the meeting Wednesday.

    The State Board of Education tightened the rules for non-education majors who want to teach in Indiana at its meeting Wednesday.

    But Superintendent-elect Glenda Ritz, who opposed the initial round of “REPA II” changes, says it’s not enough to dial back the controversial teacher licensure requirements.

    “I’m still not a fan of adjunct teachers at all taking a content test and then entering a classroom,” Superintendent-elect Glenda Ritz told StateImpact after the meeting. “I much prefer a more rigorous pre-service training.”

    “Adjunct teachers” are educators who earn their teaching credential by taking a content-area exam. As the rules were originally written, anyone who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree and a 3.0 GPA could have taken the exam and held down a teaching job, provided they received a good evaluation.

    But the changes approved Wednesday add a “pedagogy requirement” to the adjunct permit so those teachers must also receive on-the-job training on best practices and teaching methods. (Head to our post earlier this week for an explanation on what adjunct permit-holders will be required to learn.)

    Representatives from the state’s higher education institutes — who have been among the most outspoken critics of the REPA II package — spoke in favor of the pedagogy requirement. Still, the Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education asked the state board to address standards for adjunct teacher training programs.

    “How will these adjunct pedagogy-related programs be approved?” said IACTE executive secretary Jill Shedd during public comments. “Higher education institutions go through a rigorous, national professional review process.”

    Shedd recommended the board consider creating a similar accountability system for adjunct teacher training programs.

    But Ritz — who will ostensibly be in charge of putting REPA II in place once she takes office Jan. 14 — questioned the need for adjunct teachers at all. A National Board Certified Teacher, Ritz said she’d like to see more Indiana educators qualify for the same credential.

    Supporters of the alternative certification rules say job candidates who have subject-matter expertise should not be shut out of a teaching position because they don’t have education degrees. (Think: an engineer applying to teach physics.)

    Outgoing state superintendent Tony Bennett, who pushed for the new rules, told StateImpact last month he doesn’t mind leaving Ritz to implement teacher licensure requirements she doesn’t support.

    “The more opportunities we have with the ability to bring talent into Indiana classrooms, talent into Indiana school buildings, talent into Indiana school corporations, I think that’s good public policy,” he said after the December meeting.

    Wednesday’s meeting was the last for Bennett, who will be the next Florida Commissioner for Education. Bennett thanked the state board for being “the best in the country” and accepted a gift for his new office — a set of unabridged dictionaries.


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