The Michigan Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE) (of which you are an institutional representative, which is why you are receiving this) recently asked me to serve for a year as an unpaid, volunteer “public affairs consultant” for the organization. This is the first of occasional email updates that I will provide to MACTE institutional representatives (with a request that you share this with others at your institution who don’t receive the email) about “policy” matters related to educator preparation in Michigan.
This item may be of importance only to NCATE-accredited institutions. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) staff recently convened a meeting of representatives from NCATE, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), and Michigan NCATE institutions. I didn’t attend this meeting, but some items from the notes of a faculty member who did attend are:
“The NCSS/NCATE/MDE meeting last week had several outcomes:
1. A task force will try to align NCSS and Michigan Standards. This was begun a few years ago and dropped.
2. The state may continue state accreditation in the subject areas (history, geography, etc) as an alternative to NCSS . . . [national recognition].
3. NCATE will try to convince NCSS to raise its dismal pass rate (about 10% pass, 15% conditional pass).
4. People participating in the first round of NCSS this year seemed unhappy, confused and outraged. The system right now lacks clarity and clear communication from NCSS to institutions.
5. . . . [T]he [NCSS] requirement for supervision of student teachers has dropped to one visit of a subject specialist. . . .”
STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION
Several weeks ago, the State Superintendent of Education, Michael Flanagan, directed the MDE staff to halt all activities related to the Periodic Review process. MDE staff members are still working to clarify the effect for programs “in process” in the review. For additional and the most recent information as this may effect some program of your institution that is “in process,” please contact the appropriate MDE staff member.
Also, some days ago, Superintendent Flanagan caused a notice to be sent to the several institutions that are “in the pipeline” for becoming approved institutions to prepare educators in this state. This notice, based on State Board of Education discussion, informed those institutions that “the rules” for becoming authorized to be recognized as an educator preparation institution are subject to change from what they were at the time the institution started the process.
David Hamilton, MACTE president, has been attempting for some weeks to obtain an appointment with Superintendent Flanagan for purposes of discussing several educator preparation issues. As of this writing, that appointment has not materialized.
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
1. At its meeting on June 13, 2006, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved a “report card” mechanism for placing all educator preparation institutions in the state into one of four categories: exemplary, satisfactory, at-risk, and low performing. The federal government, under Title II of the Higher Education Act, requires an identification of the bottom two categories, and Michigan has been out of compliance for some while. (Representatives from at least four institutions, including both David Hamilton and me, were present on June 13 to hear and, in some cases, participate in the Board’s discussion of this matter.)
Roughly four years ago, MDE staff invited MACTE, through its Board of Directors, to make a recommendation concerning a policy/procedure for bringing Michigan into compliance with federal requirements. After numerous meetings, much discussion, and much compromise, such a recommendation was prepared. It was submitted to the SBE last July but not accepted and MDE staff members were directed to make a number of changes. This revised version was resubmitted to the SBE last September, but again not accepted. MDE staff made additional changes. With one minor amendment, it was this version that was adopted by the SBE on June 13. The MACTE Chief Institutional Representative on your campus (usually the head of the Education unit) has additional information on this matter and further information will be forthcoming from MDE staff in the near future.
2. The SBE will meet on August 8, September 12, October 10, and November 14. Meetings are open to the public.
1. What started out as SB 327 became PA 118, effective April 14, 2006. The MACTE Board determined that MACTE should “provide information” (as a nonprofit organization, MACTE does not support or oppose candidates or issues) and, indeed, this was done in a variety of forms, including testimony before the Senate Education Committee. Other groups and organizations addressed this matter as well. As a result, PA 118 is VERY different from the original version. The original version of SB 327 would have required substantial changes related to the teaching of reading in our preparation programs. Those have been eliminated and the major provision of PA 118 is that during the first six years of teaching, each teacher must take a three-credit course in the diagnosis and remediation of reading disabilities and differentiated instruction.
2. New high school graduation requirements became law under PA 123, effective April 20, 2006. There are two potential major effects on Michigan preparation institutions: (a) pressures for a sufficient “supply” of teachers in certain teaching fields and (b) possible needed changes in preparation programming related to teaching large numbers of students in certain required courses who are ill-prepared for or uninterested in the required course.
1. SB 673/674 would amend the Revised School Code to require the State Board of Education to develop a voluntary school administrator's certificate, and standards and procedures for implementation. The bills also would permit the Board to develop certificate endorsements, and would establish fees for the certificates, as well as other fees. The pair of bills passed the Senate and was recommended favorably by the House Education Committee. They were placed on “second reading” by the House on April 26, 2006.
2. SB 443 provides that notwithstanding any rule to the contrary, if an individual held a valid Michigan teaching certificate, the individual would be certified to teach in grade six regardless of whether his or her teaching certificate was an elementary level or a secondary level certificate. However, an individual holding a secondary level teaching certificate would be certified to teach only the endorsements on the certificate in grades six to 12. This bill has passed the Senate. It has been approved by the House Education Committee and was placed on a calendar for “second reading” on June 14, 2006.
BILLS IN COMMITTEE
These are some of the bills, involving professional preparation, that have been introduced in recent months. Those that have been before the House Education Committee for a lengthy period of time are probably “dead” for the time being.
1. HB 4535 (referred 3/22/2005) would establish a committee of principals and school board members to recommend revisions to teacher certification rules and new teacher mentorship practices.
2. HB 4537 (referred 3/22/2005) would provide for specific requirements for reading instruction. MACTE and numerous other groups and individuals have “provided information” related to this bill.
3. HB 5963 (referred 4/25/2006) would allow, under certain conditions, exception to teaching certificate requirements for individuals teaching in a field related to their degree.
OTHER NEWS SOURCES
For additional news from the Michigan Department of Education, see the “Leading Change” publication at http://www.cenmi.org/LeadingChange/index.asp
For news from the United States Department of Education, see http://www.emich.edu/coe/macte/news/used_news.html
SOME PREPARATION PROGRAM ITEMS FROM ELSEWHERE
1. From the “San Jose Mercury News”: "Colleges Recruit in Black Churches"
At 12 of the Bay Area's largest black churches, presidents from California State University campuses appealed to congregations to send them their youths, using the pulpit in an effort to boost stagnant enrollment of African-Africans, particularly men. After services, admissions officials distributed information about the CSU application process, financial aid and accomplished alumni. Nationwide, college enrollment is climbing among American youths, with the worrisome exception of two subgroups: youths from low-income families and African-Americans, according to a report by the American Council on Education. The 1996 passage of Proposition 209 ended California's affirmative-action programs. Since then, schools have sought other ways to find and recruit black students. CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed conceived of the "Super Sunday" campaign as a way to publicize his university. One of the nation's most diverse university systems, CSU has seen the number of Latino and Asian youths grow significantly, while enrollment by African-American students is sluggish. Of the students at CSU's 23 campuses, 6% are African-American. But two out of three black CSU students are female, meaning that black men are woefully underrepresented.
2. From South Carolina’s “The State”: "New School Guide OK'd"
Biology teachers in South Carolina public high schools should engage in class discussions that also question the theory of evolution. The state's new teaching standard encourages them. The Education Oversight Committee unanimously signed off on language that adds the phrase "critically analyze" to guidelines for teaching evolution. That phrase modifies the state's nationally recognized biology standards. The new standards take effect in August. The guideline directs teachers to "summarize ways that scientists use data from a variety of sources to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory." In some scientific circles, "critically analyze" is viewed as synonymous with teaching either creationism -- the explanation of how life came into being according to the Bible -- or intelligent design -- a theory that incorporates both religion and evolution.
3. From “Des Moines Register”: "New Teachers Will Have To Pass Test"
New elementary schoolteachers in Iowa will have to take a standardized test to receive a teaching license. This comes after officials from the U.S. Department of Education threatened to withhold millions of dollars in grants because the state's licensing system did not include a content-based test. State education officials said they learned last month that Iowa was on a list of states that weren't in compliance with a provision of No Child Left Behind. A pilot program for prospective teachers already in place in Iowa has "more checks and balances along the way" than a test, state education officials said. Staff at the Iowa Department of Education said they will continue to develop the state pilot program, which started in 2005-06. The program requires that student teachers undergo evaluations for a variety of teaching criteria. Beginning in 2007, however, all new incoming elementary teachers will have to take a test, called Praxis II.
4. From “Education Week”: "Math, Science Graduates Sign On to Teach"
Teach For America has again posted a record number of recent college graduates applying for its two-year teaching stints, with the added coup that nearly 20% came with coveted mathematics, science, or engineering majors. The group drew 19,000 applicants for the 2,400 teaching positions it has promised to fill in disadvantaged urban and rural districts across the nation, an increase in candidates of slightly more than 9% over last year. Almost one in five applicants had a math, science, or engineering degree, reflecting a 2-year-old push on the part of the group to better meet the demand for teachers in quantitative fields. In recent months, government and business leaders have sounded a clarion call to improve education in math and science so that Americans are not left behind in a global economy. Yet the subjects are perennially on the list of those that draw from a very shallow pool of teacher-candidates.
Public Affairs Consultant
Michigan Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
June 19, 200