Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Why The State Board Will Have To Revisit REPA II Teacher Licensure Rules

    Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

    Glenda Ritz and members of the Indiana State Board of Education meet on April 3.

    Turns out, the controversial package of teacher licensure requirements — known as “REPA II”that passed the State Board of Education before Glenda Ritz took office isn’t a done deal after all.

    Ritz had opposed the changes, which would have allowed non-education majors who passed content test to teach in Indiana classrooms with an adjunct permit. But the state board needed to act before March 31 for the rule change to take effect, and that didn’t happen in time.

    In other words, REPA II is going back to square one.

    Here’s what happened. After the board voted to finalize REPA II at the February meeting, Ritz says her office prepared documentation and sent the approved language to the attorney general’s office on Feb. 22.

    “The attorney general’s office gave notice to the Department of Education that they were going to disapprove it,” says Ritz. “They were going to disapprove it on a variety of items, one being the board took action on REPA II without actually seeing the language in front of them.”

    Here’s what happened at the December board meeting:

    Minutes before the vote, board member Neil Pickett requested officials make two changes to the guidelines.

    One change, which the board approved by its final vote, dials back provisions in the rule allowing teachers to earn licenses to teach in new subject areas by passing a test. The second change adds a “pedagogy requirement” to a controversial credential that allows a college graduate who didn’t major in education to earn a teaching job by passing an exam.

    Ritz says there wasn’t time to reopen REPA II before the rule change expired on March 31. That means to push through with the changes, the state board will have to start the entire rulemaking process over again. It’s expected to take about a year.

    “We worked on this for 20 months,” said board member Tony Walker. “Regardless of how you feel about REPA II, the policymaking of this body was not moved forward on merit. It was a procedural death that occurred here.”

    Board member Cari Whicker questioned why it took the IDOE nearly three weeks to submit the language the board approved on Feb. 4.

    Ritz says her team was in the process of transitioning and still had to assemble evidence to present to the Office of the Attorney General.

    “There was no intent for this department to delay REPA II,” says Ritz.

    She says new language, including tweaks based on the attorney general’s review, will go before the board at its May meeting. That will open the rule change to a cost-benefits analysis and a public comment period, likely this summer.

    All told, it’s likely REPA II won’t be fully implemented until early 2014.

    “We need to make sure we’re hitting the deadline,” board member David Shane said before the vote to reopen the rulemaking process. “At the May meeting, we need to do what we can to get the rule in front of us. It’s pretty clear the board knows what it wants to do.”

    Ritz says she’ll continue to oppose the licensure changes.


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