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Proposed teacher certification process questioned


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By Michael Majchrowicz




An auditorium of perturbed educators, administrators and parents expressed concerns Tuesday about the Indiana Department of Education’s recommended changes to the teacher certification process.

In an attempt to combat supposed teacher shortages, the department proposed that any individual, regardless of his or her specialized content area, be able to simply pass a written test in the desired field in which they wish to gain certification.

The proposed licensing process is currently being referred to as REPA 2.

This proposal is attracting the criticism of educators across the field, with those in opposition stating that it takes much more than a written test to become specialized — for instance, in the area of special education, having experience with students with disabilities is needed.

A table of five panelists sat at the front of the IU School of Education auditorium to present their specific perspectives on the issue.
 
Deborah Myerson, mother of a second-grade child with special needs who currently attends Fairview Elementary School, said she is concerned with the issue of the new certification process being addressed in a timely manner.

“We’ve gone through several different education settings for him, trying to find the right fit, and so my concern with some of the proposed changes is that he’s got one shot going through the educational system,” she said. “So I want to make sure it’s in the best-possible condition as he goes through it.”

Audience members said the department does not maintain a transparent relationship with the public about the process that is being used to make these changes.

REPA 2 is not the first proposed certification process of its kind. The proposal itself is based off a precedent that is currently in place. This process was the first REPA, or “Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability.”

“The big jump is what’s it going to look like in implementation,” said Kraig Bushey, a special education teacher at Fairfield.
 
Bushey said he would like to see the improvement to the current teacher evaluation system.

He said his work this year caused him to believe it was a change in the right direction.
Myerson said she feared the restructuring of the teacher evaluation process could take years, time her son just could not afford to lose.

“So, if it’s going to take five years for a teacher to be evaluated and see if they renewed their license, that’s half the rest of his educational career. So I’m concerned that these need to be done and done right the first time,” Myerson said.

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