Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2009 Holiday Hours

Holiday Office Hours

During the Thanksgiving Holidays, our office will be closed the following days:

Wednesday November 25, Closed

Thursday November 26, Closed

Friday November 27, Closed

During the Christmas Holidays, our office hours will be as follows:

Monday December 21, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday December 22, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday December 23, Closed

Thursday December 24, Closed

Friday December 25, Closed

Monday December 28, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday December 29, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday December 30, Closed

Thursday December 31, Closed

Friday January 1, Closed

As you continue your work in the courses, be aware that your instructor will also be observing the holiday season. Assignments will not be graded as frequently during this time.

The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Impact of Alternate Routes to Teaching

Education Week

Published Online: November 13, 2009

Published in Print: November 18, 2009, as The Impact of Alternate Routes

The Impact of Alternate Routes to Teaching

How Teacher Preparation Has Changed, and Why It May Need to Change More

By C. Emily Feistritzer

Who would have thought 25 years ago, when New Jersey created its then-controversial alternate route to teacher certification, that having such quick paths to the classroom would be a criterion for the distribution of huge sums of federal money, as it is in the Obama administration’s Race to the Top initiative? While New Jersey, and subsequently other states, created such alternatives as a way to improve the quality of the teaching force by offering programs attractive to liberal arts graduates, alternate routes have been derided by some as substandard, “scab programs,” and merely fast-track ways of getting warm bodies into classrooms.

So why are about one-third of new teachers hired in this country coming through some 600 programs being implemented under the umbrella of 125 state alternate routes to certification, with such options available in nearly every state?

Alternate routes have not only proliferated, but have also had a profound influence on the way we think about the preparation of teachers.

Moreover, why are scores if not hundreds of thousands of individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree attracted to these programs as a way to enter teaching? Why are career-switchers, men, people of color, mathematicians, scientists, and recent graduates of top universities all over the country trying to get into teaching through alternate routes? And why are colleges of education becoming big players in this space?

Simple answer: because alternate routes are market-driven. From day one, they have been created to meet market demand on both sides of the supply-and-demand equation—schools’ need for more and better teachers and the needs of a nontraditional market of individuals who want to help meet those demands.

Alternative teacher-certification programs generally don’t exist unless there are teaching jobs that need to be filled. They have been created to recruit, select, train, and certify individuals to teach in schools that need teachers in specific subjects and grade levels. This is why most alternate-route programs are in urban areas and outlying rural areas in the South and in Western and Eastern regions of the United States: Those places are where the demand for teachers is greatest.

This is also why alternative programs produce more math, science, and special education teachers, since those are the subject areas of greatest demand. And more male and minority candidates are entering teaching through alternate routes because these subjects and geographic areas are where the greatest concentration of men and minorities are.

Alternate routes come and go—if there is no market demand for teachers and no applicants, the programs die. And that is not a bad thing.

For the last half-century, America has relied for its teachers almost exclusively on high school students going to college and enrolling in a state-approved undergraduate teacher education program. It was not that long ago that teacher quality was measured by the SAT scores of students indicating they intended to major in education when they got into college.

Data from the federal Schools and Staffing Survey show that only 57 percent of brand-new entrants to the teaching profession in 2003-04 were recent college graduates (most likely to have come through a traditional program). And today about 40 percent of undergraduates who train to teach do not go into teaching. The U.S. Department of Education’s Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study shows that only about a third of education majors (33.5 percent in 2001) go directly into teaching, and fewer than three-quarters teach at some point in the 10 years after finishing their bachelor’s degrees. This is not an efficient model for teacher production.

There is more than a sheer market phenomenon at work. Alternate routes have not only proliferated, but have also had a profound influence on the way we think about the preparation of teachers. Much to the chagrin of critics, one of the hallmarks of alternate routes is that they get candidates into classrooms early—sometimes right away—as teachers of record. The National Center for Alternative Certification’s database of alternate-route providers indicates that virtually all participants teach with salary and benefits during their programs (79 percent full time, and 21 percent part time). Support from mentor teachers and other school or university personnel also is a major component of most alternate-route programs.

All of these programs, including those administered by colleges of education, stress on-the-job training. And this strikes many in the field as the wave of the future. At a recent Education Department policy discussion on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, for example, one participant cited Finland’s brand of teacher preparation as a model. There, candidates practice-teach throughout their education. They are in the classroom literally from the day they begin study.

The federal Institute of Education Sciences has come out with three startling reports over the past year: one basically concluding that the pathway to teaching doesn’t matter in the production of effective teachers, and the other two indicating that mentoring and induction are not all they’ve been cracked up to be in producing teachers who improve student achievement or in retaining teachers.

The reports and statistics go on and on. What does it all mean? What have we learned about how best to prepare teachers? Here are some thoughts:

• There are now hundreds of diverse pathways into teaching, with varying entry and program-delivery components.

• There are vastly more educated, talented, eager adults who want to teach in high-demand subjects and geographic areas than there are jobs available.

• No research, to date, has found that the pathway one takes into teaching makes much difference in classroom effectiveness (which translates to student achievement).

• The continuing debates about alternative vs. traditional teacher preparation, and such nonsensical phrases as “alternative is not alternative,” are a waste of time at this juncture.

• Most school districts do not want to run teacher-training programs.

Maybe—just maybe—counting courses, defining program-quality indicators, lining up licensing credentials, and providing other measures of “highly qualified teachers” are not the way to go. Perhaps decisions about the preparation of teachers can be made based on answers to the “effective teacher” questions: What, if any, components of existing teacher-preparation programs—recruitment and selection, mentoring and induction, curriculum/content and assessments—make a difference, and under what circumstances?

Thankfully, an evolving critical mass of smart people is focusing on effective teachers for answers—teachers whose students really do learn. How do we know an effective teacher when we see one? What makes an effective teacher effective? Can we make them, or do we just find them?

While answers to these questions are being sought, we also need to focus attention on what kinds of teachers will be needed going forward and how we get them. After all, practically the same cast of characters that was around when the college-assured teacher education model began in the early 1950s (the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education was formed in 1948; the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education in 1954) is still running colleges of education. And that was about the time that television was first showing up in living rooms across the country. Think about it.

The rapidity of technological advancements and their impact on teacher and student learning are immense. The Internet began to be widely used less than two decades ago. Google was started by a couple of college kids in 1998. We all began walking around with cellphones about 10 years ago. The BlackBerry came out in 2002, and the iPhone two years ago. And then there is the recent explosion of social networking, and cloud computing on the horizon.

That pace of change prompts the question: How are kids going to learn 10 years from now? And, going further, what role will teachers play?

C. Emily Feistritzer is the president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Education Information and the National Center for Alternative Certification, in Washington.

The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

ETS Maintenance

Computer-Administered Testing (CAT) System Maintenance

System maintenance is being performed on the ETS Computer-Administered Testing (CAT) System from approximately 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. (Central time) on Thursday, November 15, 2009. During this time, you will NOT be able to register, reschedule, or cancel any CAT exams administered at test centers with an APCN or APCU prefix (e.g., APCN 7711). All functions will continue to be available for test centers with an STN prefix (e.g., STN13089). Registrations for paper-based testing will not be affected.

The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

iteachTEXAS Candidate Making Local News

Gilmer Elementary art teacher Lori Martin explains the difference between an acute and an obtuse angle, but she's not teaching math. Click here to read and view a video of Lori incorporating cross-curriculum instruction into her Art class.

"If they are doing a math problem and they think oh wait a minute I can draw that out and understand what I'm doing with it," said Martin. "That may help them in their TAKS scores or any problem they may see in the future."

The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

Monday, October 26, 2009

Are Teacher Colleges Turning out Mediocrity?

On Thursday, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan went to Columbia University's Teachers College, the oldest teacher-training school in the nation, and delivered a speech blasting the education schools that have trained the majority of the 3.2 million teachers working in U.S. public schools today. "By almost any standard, many if not most of the nation's 1,450 schools, colleges and departments of education are doing a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st century classroom," he said to an audience of teaching students who listened with more curiosity than ire — this was Columbia University after all, and they knew Duncan wasn't talking to them. It was a damning, but not unprecedented, assessment of teacher colleges, which have long been the stepchildren of the American university system and a frequent target of education reformers' scorn over the past quarter-century.

Are Teacher Colleges Turning out Mediocrity?

The Leader in Educator Certification,

Institutions Whose Degrees are Illegal to Use in Texas

Consonant with its responsibilities under Chapter 61 of the Texas Education Code and rules promulgated pursuant thereto, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is reviewing the current status of institutions included on this list.

"Fraudulent or substandard degree" means a degree conferred in Texas in violation of the Texas Education Code; conferred in another state in violation of that state's laws; conferred in another state by an institution that was not accredited by an accreditor recognized by the Coordinating Board and that has not been approved by the Coordinating Board for its degrees to be used in Texas; or conferred outside the United States by an institution that the Coordinating Board determines is not the equivalent of an accredited or authorized degree. (Texas Educational Code, Chapter 61, Section 61.302)

The Texas Penal Code (Section 32.52) prohibits the use of fraudulent or substandard degrees "in a written or oral advertisement or other promotion of a business; or with the intent to: obtain employment; obtain a license or certificate to practice a trade, profession, or occupation; obtain a promotion, a compensation or other benefit, or an increase in compensation or other benefit, in employment or in the practice of a trade, profession, or occupation; obtain admission to an educational program in this state; or gain a position in government with authority over another person, regardless of whether the actor receives compensation for the position." Violation of this law is a Class B misdemeanor.

The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Teacher Contract Called Potential Model for Nation

Teacher Contract Called Potential Model for Nation:
The pact in New Haven, CT allows for changing work rules in "turnaround" schools, and revamping how teachers are evaluated and paid.

The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Interpretation/Guidance for Elementary School Teachers New to the Profession

Cory Green, TEA NCLB, recently spoke to certification programs and certification officers at the Consortium of State Organizations for Texas Teacher Education (CSOTTE) in San Antonio.
During a monitoring visit this fall the Department of Education (DOE) cited the state for noncompliance in determining the Highly Qualified status of EC-6 teachers. While the state, with the full support of TEA Commissioner Robert Scott is seeking further clarification and requesting flexibility in the implementation of the new interpretation, the DOE contends that the new guidelines must be followed in the reporting of HQ for EC-6 teachers hired for the 2009-2010 school year.
Click on the link below to access the TEA letter that will be sent to districts this week.

New Interpretation Letter

The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Educational Philosophy

On the first day of school each year to open class and kick off the school year, I would preform a magic trick for my students. Well maybe not a magic trick, but a fun science lab. I enjoyed establishing class with a visual experiment to engage the students and hopefully, leave a lasting impact. I believe that the first day of class sets the tone for the entire year. I wanted to establish the way class would be structured from day one, with me providing instruction with the students actively listening and then participating in learning with their thoughts, ideas and actions.

For the magic trick/science experiment, the science class is set up with all students’ desk facing the front of the class and a large lab table on which to perform the experiment in the front center of the class. On the table in the front is a tall clear pitcher of water, one red plastic cup and one blue plastic cup. One student is ask to come up and put his hand in the water to prove it was indeed real, wet water. I would then take the clear pitcher of water and slowly pour the water into the red plastic cup. After waiting a moment, I would then take the red plastic cup and attempt to pour the water into the blue plastic cup. Instead of water pouring out from one cup into the other, no water would be transferred from one container to the other. At this point, most students were intrigued and wondered why the water would not pour from the red cup to the blue cup. I would ask the student to ponder and speculate what occurred. I liked this form of inquiry, not necessarily peer learning but I did want peer interaction and for the students to share their insight. What the students did not know was that I had a large sponge in the bottom of the red cup that absorbed all the water poured from the clear pitcher. After I let the minds of my 7th grade students spin wild in wonderment, I would pull out the sponge and show them, not all things are, as they seem. The lesson being that students must think creativity about all possibilities. My strong desire is to instill higher level thinking skills to the students and allow them to think outside the box.

The magic trick does more than just get the students’ attention and set the tone of instruction, it details my educational philosophy. I believe that educating is our privilege. To impart knowledge, skills, insight, and beliefs all that we know into others is education. We cannot be as the sponge in the red cup and just simply absorb knowledge. If we are only concerned with filling our heads with facts, we inflate our egos but reduce our heart, and limit our ability to help others. The question that begs to be asked is why learning if one is not going to pass it on and influence the next generation? I believe that we must leave a meaningful impression with others. We do this by educating and pouring into children, students, peers, and elders. Another aspect of my educational philosophy is that I have learned sometimes we must be squeezed and pressed to instruct others. Giving of your time, resources, and energy is not always easy but our responsibilities cannot be neglected. We must put aside personal preferences for the betterment of society. We must learn that if we do not inform people and equip them to succeed in life, we do not love others, as we should. Ultimately the goal would be to impart wisdom and knowledge.

My educational philosophy encompasses who we should strive to be: giving of our time and teaching others, being diligent to instruct, and being a light to a dark world. How an individual goes about educating others will differ from one person to another, I am not sure there is the way to best educate. I do believe I have a way.

I believe that children can easily detect hypocrisy and if best practices are not modeled, the students will not follow your directions. The teacher should lead by example. I believe that all students can learn and should be pushed to reach their full potential. I believe that students need structure and the teacher, not their peers, should provide guidance. I believe that learning can take place anywhere and most all opportunities present a learning moment. I believe that through education we can produce citizens that are law abiding, seeking to better their personal situation, and motivated to achieve their goals.

Zach Rozell

The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

Friday, October 2, 2009

ETS Computer-Administered Testing (CAT) System Maintenance

ETS Computer-Administered Testing (CAT) System Maintenance

System maintenance is being performed on the ETS Computer-Administered Testing (CAT) System from approximately 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. (Central time) on Sunday, October 4, 2009. During this time, you will NOT be able to register, reschedule, or cancel any CAT exams administered at test centers with an APCN or APCU prefix (e.g., APCN 7711). All functions will continue to be available for test centers with an STN prefix (e.g., STN13089). Registrations for paper-based testing will not be affected.

The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

Alternative Certification vs. Traditionally Certified Teachers


A large study comparing the effectiveness of traditional teacher training with alternative certification programs finds no difference in student outcomes. The Mathematica study examined 2,600 students in six states at 63 schools with at least one alternatively certified (AC) teacher working at the same grade level as a relative novice teacher who graduated from a traditional certification (TC) program. The major findings include:

* No statistically significant difference in performance between students of AC teachers and those of TC teachers.

* No statistically significant differences between the AC and TC teachers in their average scores on college entrance exams, the selectivity of the college that awarded their bachelor’s degree, or their level of educational attainment.

* No evidence that greater levels of teacher training coursework were associated with the effectiveness of AC teachers in the classroom.

“This study found no benefit, on average, to student achievement from placing an AC teacher in the classroom when the alternative was a TC teacher, but there was no evidence of harm, either,” the report concludes. “In addition, the experimental and nonexperimental findings together indicate that although individual teachers appear to have an effect on students’ achievement, we could not identify what it is about a teacher that affects student achievement. Variation in student achievement was not strongly linked to the teachers’ chosen preparation route or to other measured teacher characteristics.”

Teacher Beat’s Stephen Sawchuck points out the Mathematica study is “a big deal” because most alt cert studies have focused on the elite programs like Teach For America. “This looks at a bunch of regular, state-run programs,” he notes. At the Quick and The Ed, Chad Alderman notes there’s nothing here that will challenge anyone’s preconceived notions or biases about alternative vs. traditional. That’s probably true, although it’s possible that ed schools may have a little more ’splainin to do about why their graduates aren’t more capable of hitting the ground running than alt cert people.

The more interesting question is beyond the scope of this study: are there long term differences in performance of each group? Regardless of how you came to the classroom, first year teaching is about the journey from unconscious incompetence (not knowing what you don’t know) to conscious incompetence (knowing what you don’t know). It’s what you do with that, I think, that makes the difference in effective and ineffective teachers.

Full disclosure: I came to teaching through the alt-cert route, via the NYC Teaching Fellows in 2002.

The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

Teaching is the new hot job

Dallas Morning News
"Teaching is the new hot job" by Jessica Meyers (8/14/09).

The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

Candidate of the Year Award

Candidate of the Year Award

I am pleased to announce the winners of our program’s Candidate of Year award winners.
Brandy Roy a high school Science teacher of Biology and Chemistry in Hardin Jefferson ISD is the winner of the secondary Candidate of the Year. She was nominated by her supervisor, Martha Chisum. The winner of the elementary is Lucinda Roy. Lucinda teach second grade at Dunbar Elementary in Texarkana ISD. She was nominated by her supervisor Juanell Cagel.
Although it is most unusual to have two candidates with the same last name (no relation) to win this award, we congratulate both teachers. We wish them the best as they continue in the education profession.
The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS

TAC 227 and 228

January 1, 2009 the State Board for Educator Certification adopted and the State Board of Education approved new rules to 19 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 227 and 228. The new rules provide minimum standards to which all educator preparation programs must adhere as well as providing increased requirements for potential educators entering the teaching profession. While the rules are more in depth, the highlights below provide a summary of the new rules that directly affect candidates admitted to an alternative educator preparation program on or after January 1, 2009. The full rules may be found at

Admission Criteria for all candidates seeking certification:
  • Baccalaureate degree earned from and conferred by an institution of higher education that is recognized by one of the regional accrediting agencies by the Texas Higher Education Council Board.
  • Minimum overall grade point average of at least 2.5 or at least 2.5 in last 60-semester credit hours. (the minimum GPA requirement will be waived by the program director only in extraordinary circumstances and may not be used by a program to admit more than 10% of any cohort of candidates)
  • Minimum of 12 semester credit hours in the subject-specific content area for the certification sought, a passing score on a content certification examination, or a passing score on a content examination administered by a vendor on the Texas Education Agency (TEA)-approved vendor.
  • The candidate shall demonstrate basic skills in reading, written communication, and mathematics by passing the Texas Academic Skills Program® (TASP®) test or the Texas Higher Education Assessment® (THEA®) with a minimum score of 230 in reading, 230 in mathematics, and 220 in writing. In the alternative, a candidate may demonstrate basic skills by meeting the requirements of the Texas Success Initiative.
  • The candidate shall demonstrate oral communication skills.
  • An application and either an interview or other screening instrument to determine the educator preparation candidate's appropriateness for the certification sought.
Preparation Program Coursework and/or Training for candidates seeking initial certification. All requirements must be met for a candidate to be eligible for their Standard Certification. There are new requirements in place for specific training to occur prior to classroom placement:
  • An educator preparation program shall provide each candidate with a minimum of 300 clock- hours of coursework and/or training that includes the following:
    • 30 clock-hours of field-based experience to be completed prior to internship. Up to 15 clock-hours of field-based experience may be provided by use of electronic transmission, or other video or technology-based method:
    • 80 clock-hours of training prior to internship;
    • six clock-hours of test preparation.
  • Late Hires—An individual who has not been accepted into an educator preparation program before June 15 and who is hired for a teaching assignment by a school after June 15 or after the school’s academic year has begun. A late hire for a teaching position shall complete 30 clock-hours of field-based experience as well as 80 clock-hours of initial training within 90 school days of assignment. Up to 15 clock-hours of field-based experience may be provided by use of electronic transmission, or other video or technology.
  • An educator preparation entity shall provide evidence of on-going and relevant field-based experiences throughout the educator preparation program.
  • Campus Mentors and Cooperating Teachers. In order to support a new educator and to increase teacher retention, an educator preparation program shall collaborate with the campus administrator to assign each candidate a campus mentor during his or her internship. The educator preparation program is responsible for providing mentor and/or cooperating teacher training that relies on scientifically based research, but the program may allow the training to be provided by a school district, if properly documented.
  • On-Going Educator Preparation Program Support. Supervision of each candidate shall be conducted with the structured guidance and regular ongoing support of an experienced educator who has been trained as a field supervisor. The initial contact with the assigned candidate must occur within the first three weeks of assignment. The program must provide a minimum of two formal observations during the first semester and one formal observation during the second semester. Each observation must be at least 45 minutes in duration and must be conducted by the field supervisor. The first observation must occur within the first six weeks of assignment. The field supervisor shall document instructional practices observed, provide written feedback through an interactive conference with the candidate, and provide a copy of the written feedback to the candidate's campus administrator. Informal observations and coaching shall be provided by the field supervisor as appropriate.
The Leader in Educator Certification, iteachTEXAS