time equivalent or it is a nationally recognized professional school of fine arts specializing in music or art. The institutions affected by the statute have until July 2004, to receive NCATE certification. The statute also specifies that the state will assume payment of fees incurred in conjunction with the accreditation process and provide partial coverage of costs incurred by the on-site review. At the time of the law’s enactment requiring NCATE accreditation, four of Maryland’s 22 colleges of education were already NCATE accredited.
Initial teacher licensure in Maryland is contingent on candidates completing an approved teacher education program. The state also requires teacher candidates to meet the qualifying scores on Praxis I and II prior to being granted an initial license, although it does not specify when candidates must take the tests during their preparation for initial licensure. The Maryland State Board of Education recently adopted high qualifying scores on the Praxis assessments as part of the state’s school reform initiative. Passing scores for Praxis I are 177 for mathematics, 177 for reading, and 173 for writing. As state superintendent Nancy Grasmick said, “Our qualifying scores [on Praxis I] are among the highest required for certification among the states. Our plan includes both high qualifying scores and periodic reviews of those scores so that we maintain the level of quality instruction in our schools” (news release from MSDE, Feb. 23, 1999). The state also selected new Praxis II content and pedagogy tests and set the qualifying scores at high levels.
For undergraduates, admission to most Maryland teacher education programs occurs at the end of the sophomore year. Requirements for entry into the programs are similar across institutions and include a minimum GPA of 2.5 (Coppin, Frostburg) to 2.75 (Salisbury State). Students must have completed several prerequisites, including coursework in English and math. Many institutions also require students to meet the state’s qualifying scores on Praxis I prior to admittance into the program. Some programs have additional requirements such as completing a speech course or test, 20 documented hours of working with diverse populations in different settings, and completion of an entrance portfolio.
Programs in the state require students to complete 120 credits (University of Maryland) to 128 (Frostburg) credits. The coursework is similar across programs, is guided by state-recognized national standards, and currently meets the MSDE reading course requirements. Most programs either require or strongly advise that elementary education candidates have either a specialization or a minor in a content area to fulfill the department’s requirements. In addition to the requirements of most education majors, the Maryland State Board of Education recently regulated additional courses in reading instruction for licensure. Poor performance on the state assessment (MSPAP) in eighth grade and on the