Fridsay, March 14, 2014


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Regents support teacher "Bar Exam" say more rigorous certification process will help students

ALBANY - The State Board of Regents' Higher Education Committee this week discussed the extensive supports the Department has provided for implementation of the new teacher certification exams, including the edTPA (a performance-based assessment of teaching modeled on the highly regarded National Board Certification), the rigorous basic literacy Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST), and the Educating All Students exam, which evaluates candidates' readiness to teach in diverse classrooms (including students with disabilities and English Language Learners) and work effectively with students' families. After a discussion of the $20 million in Race to the Top funds the State Education Department has provided for the implementation of clinically rich programs at 13 institutions in New York State and a conversation about the certification examinations, the Committee indicated that the work should continue to move forward.

"The Board of Regents started this initiative in 2009," State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said. "We've invested $11.5 million in Race to the Top funds to help higher education institutions transition to the new requirements. In the past year, there have been hundreds of meetings and workshops conducted all over New York State as a result of the extensive support from the State Education Department along with our partners SUNY, CUNY, and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. We are encouraged by the reports of the P-20 collaboration and stronger partnerships across sectors and the Board expressed confidence in the direction we've taken."

Calls for improvement in teacher preparation have come from the federal government, teacher unions, leadership organizations, and higher education accreditation bodies. Governor Cuomo last year called for an increase in "standards for teacher certification…by requiring passage of a bar exam." Last year's enacted budget committed to "a teacher and principal bar exam certification program that would include a common set of professionally rigorous assessments to ensure the best prepared educators are entering the public school system."

King noted the Department has conducted extensive field engagement with higher education faculty and P-12 teachers in the development of all of the new certification examinations and the setting of standards for student performance on the exams. He added that agreements signed in 2012 between the Department and SUNY, CUNY and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (cIcu) provided a substantial investment of the state's Race to the Top monies to provide professional development for college and university faculty around the new certification examinations and pillars of the Regents Reform Agenda.

The Higher Education Committee also committed to closely monitor student performance on the new certification exams and to continue to discuss specific supports that SUNY, CUNY, and cIcu can provide using the Race to the Top funding that will benefit teacher preparation candidates and ultimately P-12 students. Committee members also expressed that they are monitoring closely the real experience of test takers in this first round of administration and will again in April assess the special circumstances of a transition year.