Oct. 14, 2015

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UUP teacher ed talk resonates with Regent

uupdate 10-13-15

In a sign of UUP’s expanding role in the effort to change the state’s flawed teacher certification process, Regent Kathleen Cashin plans to ask the Board of Regents to consider corrective action on a specific list of complaints about the process.

Cashin co-chairs the Regents’ Committee on Higher Education with Regent Charles Bendit. She has had numerous conversations about the certification process with UUP Vice President for Academics Jamie Dangler and teacher preparation faculty from around the state.

At an Oct. 14 panel discussion at SUNY New Paltz, Cashin joined teacher preparation faculty and staff from SUNY and private colleges, as well as from K-12 districts that work with student teachers, in a dialogue about a multitude of problems with the state’s four certification exams. The discussion was the latest in a series of meetings UUP has convened around the state since last spring for small groups of teacher preparation faculty and staff to speak directly to Regents.

“This is very informative for me," she said. "I’m very grateful you came to tell me first-hand. I want to leave here with a plan.”

Based on input from the educators who met with her she plans to relate the concerns she heard to the full Board of Regents as quickly as possible. Suggestions Regent Cashin heard from students and educators include:

  • Seeking a major change to the educative Teacher Performance Assessment, or edTPA;
  • Revising the cost of the exams;
  • Giving back oversight of curriculum to faculty; and
  • Reviewing all of the new certification exams, not just the edTPA, because teacher preparation faculty and staff have reported problems with all of them.

Regarding the edTPA, panelists talked of talented students who could not be certified, in what amounted to years of excellent work dismissed by one anonymous and unaccountable Pearson scorer.

uupdate 10-13-15

“What we have here is a whole institution of people who determine that one candidate is ready, and Pearson, who is determined that one scorer is right,” said Julie Gorlewski, right, a teacher preparation professor at New Paltz and a member of the UUP statewide Task Force on Teacher Education. “It’s one of the most frustrating experiences of my life.”

Panelist Chris Whitaker, the SUNY New Paltz certification advisor in the teacher preparation program, echoed the feelings of many in the room when he said there should be no more “safety net” extensions that allow students alternative paths to certification. The Regents have granted two so-called safety nets, the latest of which allows alternatives to the tests up to June 2016. SED needs to fix the exams, not delay their use for certification, he said.

Said Whitaker, “The fact that we’ve had a safety net program in place for two years tells us it isn’t working.”

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