Colleges and schools teaming up to develop ways to raise standards for incoming teachers

02/06/2014 08:56 AM

Teacher candidates in Kentucky enter college with the lowest average ACT scores of a dozen majors and are most likely to need remedial courses, which has prompted colleges and schools to come up with ways to raise the standards.

The Council on Postsecondary Education, which oversees Kentucky colleges and universities, has launched a program it’s calling Vanguard that is grouping educators from a dozen private and public universities and select school districts to come up with ways to increase standards for students who want to become teachers.

“For the campuses that are participating in this essentially pilot project, it will be much more difficult to get into a teacher ed program. As a result, the size of those programs is going to shrink substantially because the admission criteria will be much higher,” King said (2:45). “But the objective there is to improve the quality and our effectiveness of our graduates who go into teaching.”

Increasing the standards could include requiring hiring ACT scores or even an interview-like process in which teacher candidates are put in a room with children to see how well they communicate with kids, King said.

This segment of the interview starts with the public universities’ request for an extra pot of money that would be doled out based on the number of degrees produced. That wasn’t included in Gov. Steve Beshear’s budget proposal, which called for a 2.5 percent cut to the eight public universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

The groupings in the Vanguard project, which is looking at new teacher candidate standards, are:

  • Western Kentucky University with Bowling Green Independent, Warren County and Owensboro Independent school districts.
  • University of Kentucky with Fayette County, Danville Independent, Eminence Independent and Trigg County school districts.
  • Asbury University with Knott County School District.
  • Georgetown College with Scott County School District.
  • Lindsey Wilson College with Adair County School District.
  • Campbellsville University with Taylor County, Hart County, Larue County and Campbellsville Independent school districts.
  • University of Louisville with Jefferson County School District and OVEC
  • Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, University of the Cumberlands, University of Pikeville, KVEC and Southeast/Southcentral Co-ops

In addition, Murray State University and Northern Kentucky University have asked to be observers of the process, according to the CPE.

Terry Holliday, the Kentucky education commissioner, said that as a member of the Education Professional Standards Board, he was aware of the numbers that showed weaker average ACT scores among teacher candidates relative to other college students.

And he said the goal should be to institute admissions standard that mirror the world’s education leaders like Finland and Shanghai.

At the same time, increasing teacher pay also is a factor in raising the bar for teachers. Many teachers start out with salaries in the $30,000s. The governor has proposed a 2 percent raise for teachers in 2015 and another 1 percent raise the following year.

On Wednesday, Holliday and Education Department officials made their pitch for that to a receptive House budget panel.

Rep. Kelly Flood, the Lexington Democrat who chairs the House budget committee on K-12 education, and Republican Rep. Bam Carney, a social studies teacher in Taylor County, both endorsed the governor’s proposed budget for K-12 that included $71 million in 2015 for the main funding formula for schools and $118 million more in 2016.

The increase in the funding formula would cover between 90 percent and 110 percent of the cost of those raises for each district, said Hiren Desai, associate commissioner of the Department of Education.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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