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School of Education Dean Comments on Teacher Certification Regulations

 
 

Lynn Johnson, associate dean of Trinity’s School of Education, presented testimony on behalf of Dean Suellen Meara on July 23, 2008, regarding proposed regulations governing teacher certification in the District of Columbia.  The testimony was presented before Superintendent Deborah Gist and the District of Columbia State Board of Education. The testimony reflects Trinity’s commitment to improving teacher education in the District, and addressed several important issues such as portability and reciprocity of teaching credentials, fees for credentials, and advanced certification for teachers: “Advanced certification must have attached to it some measures of teacher effectiveness that includes the achievement of students in their charge. …Without a measure of student achievement as part of the evaluation of teachers, we will not see the significant improvement in teacher quality that we all desire.”

Testimony of Dr. Suellen Meara, Dean, School of Education, Trinity, Presented by Associate Dean, Lynn Johnson, July 23, 2008

Members of the Board and Superintendent Gist:  Please forgive my absence this evening. Lynn Johnson, associate dean of Trinity’s School of Education, is here with you to share my testimony.

I was a participant in the Working Group created by the State Superintendent to review certification requirements for both school administrators and teachers.  While I generally understand the proposed regulations, I have one question and some comments.

Question:  Section 1601 of the DCMR is going to be amended to read under 1601.3

….To qualify for a Regular I Teaching Credential, the candidate must: …. “(e)  Be employed by a local education agency in the District of Columbia”

Does the above mean that our graduating students who are teaching or going to teach in Virginia or Maryland DO NOT qualify for a Regular I Teaching Credential even if they have completed a program offered by an Institution of Higher Education (IHE), a non-profit group program or a D.C. Local Education Agency (LEA)?  In the eight states in which I have taught, graduating students have been advised to apply and receive their teaching license in the state in which their IHE is located.  In Trinity’s case, students would then go on to Maryland or Virginia, submit their D.C. license and obtain an additional license in that state due to the fact that the student had completed a “state-approved program” (an accreditation term).  This allows the graduate to have portability of their teaching credential.  This is a very important factor for students attending institutions in such a small “state” as the District of Columbia.

This leads to my concerns about the very vague language in the proposed regulations regarding reciprocity of teaching credentials.  The District of Columbia and neighboring jurisdictions have very mobile populations due to the nature of the business done in D.C. (federal government, military, international corporations).  Teachers want and need to be able to have portability of their teaching license.  They need to be able to know that if they leave D.C. and go to another state or to many other states over a total career, that there is reciprocity and they can at least obtain a limited credential in another state or in D.C. as they change positions while they meet any additional requirements.  Reciprocity is a critical, nationwide issue and needs to be addressed in much more specific language than the language currently contained in the proposed regulations.

The next concern is about fees for credentials.  Currently the cost is $30 which is totally captured by OSSE.  About 5 years ago, all of the paperwork and documentation was moved out of the D.C. Certification Office and given to the IHEs to do for their own students, with the State Education agency still capturing all of the fee.  This action was taken without consultation with the IHEs.  Further effort was made to require IHEs to do transcript evaluations of teachers with out-of-state teaching credentials.  The IHEs successfully refused to take on this responsibility, feeling strongly that this service was the responsibility of the State Education Agency (SEA).  As fees are set and if OSSE expects to continue to require some of the paperwork to be done by IHEs, non-profit agencies and LEAs, some discussion of the sharing of fees must take place.

Finally, the regulations to be determined around advanced certification are critical.  One of the issues that the Working Group felt strongly about was that advanced certification must have attached to it some measures of teacher effectiveness that included the achievement of students in their charge.  To assure the quality of teachers in the District of Columbia, this complicated issue must be addressed and resolved as soon as possible so that criteria for the advanced certification can be determined.  Without a measure of student achievement as part of the evaluation of teachers, we will not see the significant improvement in teacher quality that we all desire.

Since Trinity’s founding in 1897, nearly one-third of our graduates have gone into careers in education or related fields. Since 1966 Trinity has offered the master of arts in teaching and other graduate degrees to educational professionals, and Trinity’s School of Education achieved full NCATE accreditation in 2006.  As in the past, Trinity is willing and ready to work closely with OSSE and D.C. Schools in both education of teachers and development of output measures that improve the quality of teaching.

Trinity’s School of Education

Dean Meara’s March 12, 2008, Testimony on Improving Teacher Education in D.C.

D.C. State Board of Education

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For more information contact Ann Pauley, Media Relations Trinity, 125 Michigan Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20017
pauleya@trinitydc.edu, (202) 884-9725.