May 2016 Issue
April 22, 2016

Safety net extended for prospective teachers

Author: By Darryl McGrath
Source: NYSUT United

For the third year in a row, the state Board of Regents has granted a yearlong "safety net" that will give teacher education students an alternative path to certification if they fail the state's much-criticized certification exams. But this time, the Regents have demanded that the State Education Department use that year to actually fix the certification process.

"When you see something wrong and you know it's wrong, you have to call it out," Regent Lester Young Jr. told his colleagues as the Regents extended the current safety net to June 2017.

"The substance of the discussion went beyond anything I've heard over three years of regularly attending Regents Higher Education meetings," said Jamie Dangler, UUP's vice president for academics. "We heard Regents ask to connect the emergency actions they took today to the ‘bigger picture' of what's going on.

The mandatory certification exams, which are administered by the educational testing corporation Pearson Inc., have been roundly criticized by NYSUT and its two higher education affiliates, United University Professions at SUNY and the Professional Staff Congress at CUNY, as deeply flawed revenue jackpots for Pearson. The company collects hundreds of dollars each time a student retakes an exam. The education unions are leading the charge for a practitioner-led revamp of the process for entry to the teaching profession.

But SED and the Regents viewed the previous two "safety nets" as necessary only to give teacher preparation programs and students time to acclimate to the new exams. The April 19 Regents meeting was noteworthy for the frank and even exasperated way that several Regents acknowledged the certification process is flawed and needs to be fixed.