A package of bills aimed at improving teacher preparation at Michigan’s colleges and universities awaits passage from the House after emerging from a contentious approval process in the Education Reform Committee.
The eight-bill package, HB 5598-5605, mandates changes to teacher preparation programs that would result in a loss of licensure for colleges or universities that fail to comply by next year.
Contrary to some erroneous media reports, MEA does not support the package introduced by Rep. Daniela Garcia (R-Holland) and other sponsors. MEA does support one bill in the package (HB 5602), but we do not believe the penalty in the other bills of losing licensure is the correct approach, especially for students already enrolled in those programs.
Universities and various education groups have objected to the plan’s unfunded mandates, including a “warranty” program that would allow teachers labeled ineffective in their first two years of employment to take additional coursework at the expense of their alma mater.
Other measures would require continuing education for all full-time college faculty members; increase reading credit hour requirements for elementary educators; boost the required classroom experience hours for student teachers; and stipulate the content of aspiring teachers’ college coursework.
Several proposed amendments would extend the deadline for universities to comply with the bills’ requirements by two years – to 2021, instead of 2019; and phase in new mandates for increased preservice classroom hours to 150 hours in 2019 and 300 by 2020 – rather than 400 hours immediately. The amendments have not yet received a vote on the House floor.
Bills in the package include:
HB 5598 – requiring all full-time faculty members in a teacher preparation program to complete at least 30 hours of continuing education per school year, including observation and teaching experiences.
HB 5599 – allowing a teacher deemed ineffective in the first two years of employment to take additional coursework at any approved teacher preparation program to be paid for by the university from which he or she graduated.
HB 5600 – creating a stipend – paid for by the college or university – for teachers who supervise student teachers.
HB 5601 – requires 400 hours of classroom or practicum experience for students in a teacher preparation program.
HB 5602 – creating a master teacher corps program to provide leadership and professional development in the field (which MEA supports).
HB 5603 – requiring elementary-level teaching candidates to complete 12 early elementary credits and 9 later elementary credits in reading instruction, and mandating the assessment of pedagogical skills and instructional delivery for elementary certification.
HB 5604 – requiring student teaching experience to include varied settings and populations of students.
HB 5605 – requiring specific criteria for teacher preparation coursework to cover, including use of data and state assessment tools; classroom management; instruction for students with disabilities; instruction for teaching English Language learners and students in poverty, etc.