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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
After a student has been admitted to the University of Wyoming’s teacher education program, he or she is considered to be at the second level of the program, called “Teacher as a Decision Maker.” At this level students take more coursework on the principles of teaching and learning and gain additional educational experience in the classroom at their grade of choice. Students also fulfill requirements for coursework in their majors at this time. The elementary education program requires majors to select a concentration (21 credit hours) in cultural diversity, environmental studies, creative arts, interdisciplinary early childhood, and special education, while the secondary education majors have content requirements to fulfill.
All students must then apply for admittance at the end of their junior year to the third level called “Methods in Humanities, Literacy, and Math/Science.” To be admitted to the third level, students must have at least a 2.5 GPA and have completed all specified prerequisite coursework for enrolling in the level three methods courses. During level three, students spend approximately 11 weeks attending classes and 4 weeks in the schools applying what they are learning. In the final level, called “Residency in Teaching,” students spend a full semester in residency at a school setting completing a student teaching experience.
Upon graduation, a teacher candidate applies to the PTSB for a Standard Teaching Certificate (one type of certificate for all teachers). Each candidate provides the PTSB with a transcript verifying completion of the teacher education program. The PTSB reviews the transcript (for a fee of $175) along with a form signed by university personnel documenting that the candidate graduated from a state-approved program and endorsing the candidate as possessing the requisite knowledge and competencies to be a teacher.
There is one alternative route to certification in Wyoming for those students who have not completed a teacher education program but who have completed a bachelor’s degree and have experience working with school-age children (in lieu of student teaching experience). Certification decisions in such cases are made based on a portfolio the candidate submits to the PTSB.
ALASKA INITIAL TEACHER LICENSURE SYSTEM
The state of Alaska adopted a statewide educational reform effort, the Quality Schools Initiative (QSI), in 1998. The four key components of the QSI are high academic standards for all students; quality standards for educators; family, school, business, and community partnerships; and excellent schools. The QSI established new performance standards in reading, writing, and mathematics as well as content standards in history, science, geography, citizenship, the arts, world languages, and healthy life skills.