State lowers some bars to teaching Alternative route to certification OK'd

September 27, 1990|By Will Englund

College graduates who want to become public school teachers but didn't major in education will now have a much easier time of it, thanks to a new rule approved yesterday by the State Board of Education.

The board created a "resident teacher certificate" category that allows qualified liberal arts graduates to take and hold teaching jobs without having to submit to a full program of education courses.

The move puts Maryland into the growing category of states that permit alternative routes to certification. The aim is to open the schools up to people who are particularly dedicated to the idea of teaching -- and who have successfully pursued college studies that are usually much more rigorous than education courses.

Proponents of the change, including Joseph L. Shilling, the state superintendent, concede that the number of people pursuing the resident teacher certificate will probably be slim. A study of states with similar programs by the National Education Association found that only 1,200 out of a million teachers hired had landed their jobs through alternative certification.

The move was opposed by Maryland's teachers colleges, which defended their programs as valuable and necessary.

Under the old rule, a school system could hire someone with a liberal arts background on a provisional certificate, but only if there were no certified applicants available. The provisional teacher then needed to complete a fairly full program of education courses on nights or weekends.

Under the new rule, candidates will be granted resident certificates if they:

* Hold a bachelor's degree in a discipline appropriate to the position they are seeking, in either an elementary or secondary school.

* Achieved a B average in their college major.

* Have passed the National Teachers Exam.

* Have spent a total of 90 hours taking certain education courses.

The proposal before the board yesterday had called for 180 hours of education studies -- 90 before being hired and 90 the following summer.

But at a hearing in August several teacher applicants had sharply criticized the need for follow-up education training, which they characterized as a waste of money and time. Yesterday, the board agreed, and cut the requirement to 90 hours.

Resident certificate teachers must also be supervised for one or two years by a veteran teacher "mentor." The board changed the wording yesterday so that the mentor could be someone from outside the school, such as a college professor.

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