February 2016 Issue - New York State Certification
January 26, 2016

Regents set temporary safety net for certification exams

Author: By Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
In yet another acknowledgment that the state's new teacher certification process is deeply problematic, the Regents approved a temporary safety net for the new Multi-Subject Content Specialty Test (CST) for special education in grades 7–12. Nearly half of those who took the exam failed the math section, which is preventing otherwise qualified candidates from becoming certified in one of the state's critical shortage areas.

In order to qualify for the safety net, candidates must pass the other two sections of the CST, plus complete an online math tutorial provided by the State Education Department at no cost to candidates.

The move was part of a larger discussion by the Regents Higher Education Committee where members questioned the entire new process for teacher candidates to achieve certification.

Regent Kathleen Cashin, the committee chair, presented data collected through a series of statewide forums on teacher education. Members from NYSUT's higher education affiliates, United University Professions at SUNY and Professional Staff Congress at CUNY spoke out at meetings in New Paltz, Buffalo and New York City to explain how the new series of certification exams are not research-based, are costly and are not aligned with teacher education programs.

Several Regents questioned the problematic system's validity and suggested a better look at the whole process. They noted the safety nets for other certification exams, including the edTPA, are due to expire in June. Fortino said NYSUT, working with UUP and PSC, will keep pressing the Regents to fix the flawed certification exam process, which is clearly derailing prospective teachers.

The problems are also discouraging college students from pursuing education majors. Enrollments are down approximately 40 percent.