How coming changes to teacher licensure in 2015 will affect education majors in Tennessee colleges is largely unknown.
The Tennessee Board of Education passed a proposal earlier this month restructuring the system for licensure renewal to streamline the process and tie it to students’ growth scores.
Changes have also been proposed for the first-time licensure process for college students.
The state board will “explore a new relationship with a national accrediting body. In addition, that policy will offer new metrics related to measuring the effectiveness of educator preparation programs,” according to a board agenda statement.
What these metrics will be have not been determined, said Bill Estes, dean of Lee University’s Helen DeVos College of Education
“We are going to have different standards for us,” Estes said. “Whatever they are we will meet them and Lee will be the very best. We are committed to that.”
Lee University has 200 licensed teachers graduate through its undergraduate and graduate degree programs each year.
In addition to meeting state standards, The Helen DeVos College of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
“There are only 1,200 colleges of education in the United States that are CAEP accredited,” Estes said.
He said Lee will continue to meet CAEP requirements in addition to any requirements by the state. CAEP standards have also recently changed.
Estes said the college of education is in favor of streamlining the licensure system and increasing the expectations for acceptance into education degree programs.
“We have higher requirements then Tennessee does currently,” Estes said. “We have more rigorous standards than the state requires.”
Although many specifics have not been outlined, the state board has made it clear that whatever new policies are adopted, they will be focused on improving public school system students’ test scores.
A state board agenda said the current standards for education majors seeking licensure “does not adequately focus on outcomes, but rather places the entirety of the approval decision on standards and inputs that are not reflective of graduates’ performance in the classroom or school.”
Estes said the new system will have a graduate’s performance as a teacher being used to evaluate the education degree program from which they came.
“We are OK with that. The federal government does that with Title 2 each year,” Estes said.
Many Lee students do not remain in Tennessee, but start their teaching careers in other states. The university currently has some data on where graduates teach. Yet, Estes said the university does not receive feedback from every graduate.
The state board will be releasing new policies outlining changes in requirements for various aspects of a degree program, including student teaching.
Estes said the university works well with Tennessee Department of Education staff to ensure standards are met.
Estes said students at Lee University are required to complete 80 hours of observation and other field experience before qualifying to complete student teaching.
Since the changes will not take effect until 2015, Estes said he thinks the Tennessee General Assembly may have an impact on some of the changes. He speculated that some state colleges may push for the legislature to have input.