“Here are the guts of SB 51… The cuts are in one color, and the add ons are in another….

” …has achieved a passing score on both a content-readiness exam and a performance assessment as specified by the Department no later than July 1, 2015,” Added.

, except that this provision shall not apply to applicants seeking an initial license to teach in a core content area. For the purposes of this section, “core content area” means any subject area tested by the state assessment system, including Mathematics, English/Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.  “Added

 “an initial license may be issued to an applicant who meets all other requirements for initial licensure except for passage of the PRAXIS I exam, provided that the applicant must pass PRAXIS I within the period of time from the date of hire to the end of the next, consecutive fiscal year. If proof of passage of PRAXIS I has not been provided during the time period specified, the initial license will be suspended unless the superintendent of the school district submits to the Secretary of Education a written request for a 1-year extension. The request must also document the effectiveness of the applicant.”  Cut

 An applicant seeking an initial license to teaching the secondary content area of Math Mathematics or English/Language Arts must also meet the achieve a passing score on the corresponding section of Praxis I. The Department may also require that an applicant achieve a passing score on both a content-readiness exam and performance assessment. The assessments and the passing scores shall be approved by the Department, and shall be developed or identified in collaboration with Delaware educators. ” added.

” This requirement shall apply to all applicants teaching special education in a core content area, as defined in § 1210 of this title, in secondary schools”  added.

The Department shall recognize a professional status certificate or standard certificate that is otherwise valid if issued prior to August 31, 2003. The Department shall also recognize a limited standard certificate or a temporary certificate issued prior to August 31, 2003, provided that the educator successfully completes the requirements set forth in the limited standard certificate or the temporary certificate.” cut.

And this entire passage was added….

Subchapter VIII. Education Preparation Programs

§ 1280. Educator Preparation Program Approval.

(a) Consistent with § 122 of this title, no individual, public or private educational association, corporation, or institution, including any institution of post-secondary education, shall offer an educator preparation program for the training of educators to be licensed in this State without first having procured the assent of the Department for the offering of such programs. A program approval process based on standards adopted pursuant to this section must be established for educator preparation approval programs, phased in according to timelines determined by the Department, and fully implemented for such programs in the State. Each program shall be approved by the Department based upon significant, objective, and quantifiable performance measures.

(b) Each teacher preparation program approved by the Department shall establish rigorous entry requirements as prerequisites for admission into the program. At a minimum, each program shall require applicants to:

(1) Have a grade point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or a grade point average in the top 50th percentile for coursework completed during the most recent two years of the applicant’s general education, whether secondary or post-secondary; or

(2) Demonstrate mastery of general knowledge, including the ability to read, write, and compute, by achieving a minimum score on a standardized test normed to the general college-bound population, as approved by the Department.

Each educator preparation program may waive these admissions requirements for up to 10% of the students admitted. Programs shall implement strategies to ensure that students admitted under such a waiver receive assistance to demonstrate competencies to successfully meet requirements for certification.

(c) Each teacher preparation program approved by the Department shall incorporate the following:

(1) A clinical residency component, supervised by high quality educators, as defined by the Department. The clinical residency shall consist of at least ten weeks of full-time student teaching. Clinical experiences shall also be interwoven throughout and aligned with program curriculum.

(2) Instruction for prospective elementary school teachers on research-based strategies for childhood literacy and age-appropriate mathematics content;

(3) Ongoing evaluation of students, consisting of no less than an annual evaluation, aligned to the statewide educator evaluation system;

(d) Each teacher preparation program approved by the Department shall establish rigorous exit requirements, which shall include but not be limited to achievement of passing scores on both a content-readiness exam and a performance assessment.

(e) Education preparation programs administered by institutions of higher education shall collaborate with the Department to collect and report data on the performance and effectiveness of program graduates. At a minimum, such data shall measure performance and effectiveness of program graduates by student achievement. The effectiveness of each graduate shall be reported for a period of 5 years following graduation for each graduate who is employed as an educator in the State. Data shall be reported on an annual basis. The Department shall make such data available to the public.

(f) The Department shall promulgate rules and regulations governing educator preparation programs pursuant to this subchapter in collaboration with Delaware educators.”  Added.

Section 3. The effective date of this Act shall be July 1, 2014.

Here is the bill in full….

And here is the Delaware code for that same passage as it stand now, before any changes get wrought…..

Ok, done… Sounds good right?  Well for most it does.  But… some of us have inquiring minds. and since there are no National Enquirers on newstands this time of night, these changes here will have to be the object that absorb our attentions….

For example…

At first glance it appears that before one could still teach first and take the Praxis later.  Now one must take the Praxis first, period.  My problem with this is that if a super-great student teacher trains in one school, and that school is aware of an upcoming vacancy and really wants that teacher to fill it, they can’t until the Praxis is first taken.  Now one doesn’t walk in to take the Praxis, … or do they?  One has to wait, like we did back when we took our SAT’s, until the test is being offered.  That means this school which had a great chance at acquiring an awesome teacher, one they knew and wanted, must hire someone else who is a complete stranger to them, and who may not have as good of qualifications as did their own student teacher who they hoped could get that job.  Under the old bill, she could have worked and taken the test when it was offered.  Now, she can’t.  An amendment could solve this!

Secondly.  It appears that the old bill grandfathered anyone who has a certificate from before August 2003.  With a stroke of a pen, those are no longer valid.  I see some issues here.  I see a home economics teacher, who is impossible to replace (who learns home economics in college anymore?)  now at age 63 having to take todays recertification exams.  As a normal human being, I can barely remember most of my education because I don’t use it.  Today I pride myself on still being able to figure out my kids algebra. Woo Hoo!  Back in class our exam was to start from scratch and prove Einsteins theory of General Relativity; I can’t even begin to start it now….  Forgive me for being cynical here, but this just looks like a vehicle to remove someone before retirement sets in.   At most, a person in this capacity has been teaching for 10 years.  If you didn’t fire them in ten years because they were so good, you are planning on firing them now?  Is it because they make too much and you can hire someone cheaper?  Is it because if you remove them before retirement, you can cut back on the pensions they have saved up?  I don’t know this so I’m asking, but do we make Doctors take their MCAT’s over again in their old age?  We don’t?  Why not?  They are dealing with life and death.  What if they made a mistake and gave us 40 milligrams because they added 2.0 plus 2.o and missed the decimal points, giving us 40?  We don’t test them for a reason.  Because they know more already than the tests can check.  And why don’t we make lawyers take their LSAT’s over again?  Our OWN Attorney General had to take his Delaware Bar exam 3 times before he squeaked in over  the 154 benchmark.  He’s our Attorney General for heavens sakes!!!  Surely we should test HIM once a term maybe?  If he’s good, he should whiz through it… Hell, give him the Delaware Bar right now and let’s pull him if he doesn’t get a passing score… After all, if he can’t muster it, he shouldn’t practice law, ..right?  I don’t know this so I’m asking… So why don’t we test lawyers, like we are going to do teachers?

Because its just plain stupid that is why.  You test those to determine who gets in, and once they get in, their time needs to be spent on the tasks at hand, not focused on retaking test they’ve already taken….  Requiring ongoing multiple tests is as sensible as selling your stock and buying it back yourself just to say you don’t have any old stock… It’s  costing you a lot  in commissions to do so.

Passage of this bill allows for the removal of tenured teachers who after teaching all this time, can’t pass the exam…..  Something none of us could do, no matter how successful we are in our current careers.  By the way.  Did Mark Murphy have to pass a competency test as would these teachers,  before he took office?   Let’s give him the Praxis today and make his position dependent upon its passage.  If he fails to accept the challenge, then obviously, there is something wrong in this bill.  Although set in talk of raising standards,  there belies intent behind this bill to arbitrarily remove people the Department does not like…

Again, an amendment grandfathering this group, similar to the one before, can solve this problem.

Thirdly… and forgive me for going into this, but flat out… this is vague.  “Each program shall be approved by the Department based upon significant, objective, and quantifiable performance measures.”  And that’s it.  No explanation.  What are or will be the performance measures?  As Steve points out, we have considerable measures currently in place.  We receive excellent teachers from our current crop of schools. So what exactly will be the significant, objective, and quantifiable measures? ( Playing devils advocate here, but the language is so vague, it could apply)  Do you have to be white?  Do you have to be a woman?  Do you have to be willing to work for $15,000 a year?  Do you have to be willing to work with no pension?   So how are you going to rate Del Tech’s teaching, Del State’s teaching, UDel’s teaching any differently than you do now?  If someone comes from Harvard,  how do you measure that, without telling us how you are measuring that?  We used to have to measure intelligence at the polls to vote. We thought is was funny to ask a white boy who was the president of the United States, and a black boy what the square root of 32 was to the 4th decimal place…  yes, it created lots of laughter.  But that is exactly what this legislation is creating.  An impartial, willy-nilly, capricious standard that can let some through the door, and close it on others…  Where is the standard?  If we don’t have it, why are we voting on something we haven’t seen?  Who here would sign a contract with a bank that was blank?  (Good thing I switched that around; that was going to be a Wilmington Trust jibe)…

Fourth, and again forgive me for asking, but what is the reasoning behind passing super high standards … then creating a back door so 10% of those below standard can walk in and join the party?   Isn’t that an exercise of futility?  The result is going to give you exactly the same results one has now.  Today 90% are 3.0 and above; 10 percent are just under.  Perhaps quantifying it could be their excuse… That’s the way it is so we’ll put it in writing.  Or maybe its trying to set a minimum so at some point in the future, generations not yet born, will not be tempted to go to 80/20 or 70/30 ratios.   Still, it just seems futile.  Of course we all know what happened was the original standard got offered, then the 10% was added to insure the objections raised were met, but still, the final piece now lacks credibility.  It was as if we said, “ok, you must follow the no text rulings, no texting or hand held phones… Except 10% of you will be allowed.  No problem for you.”  As an old corporate dog once advise me:  “If you’re going to make a ruling you can’t enforce, don’t make it.  It gives you personally only one option, and that is to lose.”

Fifth:  As noted by Steve, Delaware already utilizes far more than ten weeks of student teaching this bill requires.  By dropping the levels required to just 10 weeks, Delaware student teachers will be overqualified and should easily get jobs here in this state.  Is this lowering of the requirement to allow us to recruit and bring in cheaper teachers from other parts of the country, parts whose educational departments are perhaps not as thorough as is Delaware in its requirement for teachers?   I do know in some states, teachers tell their students that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time.  Is this an attempt to whisk “those kind” into Delaware? ..  Our standards are already higher than that, so why are we lowering them while pretending it is raising the bar higher?  Do we need to start warning our children to beware of teachers who talk with funny accents?

Sixthly:  What do you mean when you say this:   Instruction for prospective elementary school teachers on research-based strategies for childhood literacy and age-appropriate mathematics content.   Excuse me for asking, but “whose” research will you use?  I’m sure you are well aware that the now accepted failure, No Child Left Behind, was attempted at all because of faulty research.  I’m sure you are well aware, the the school voucher program pushed forward in some states is failing desperately because it too, was based on faulty research.  I’m sure that you are well aware, that the entire charter school program is failing across this nation, and taking all its children down with it…. was based on faulty research…  So when you say research-based strategies, the hair sort of goes up on the back of my head… Uh oh.  As every single working teacher will tell you, each year there is a new, proven,  brand-new strategy that will finally, finally magically transform all students into a model classroom,…. and each year afterwards, … there is a new, proven brand-new strategy to replace it… All costing the state millions of dollars to implement I should add.  And furthermore, each time there is a top personnel change there is also a new research-based strategy to go along with it.  And as you know, each strategy takes up weeks of a teacher’s time they could spend with students, and if there was any redeeming value in that strategy, it is only discovered in the final weeks of the year, but alas it is too late.  Next year there will be a new strategy and teachers get to start all over.   And as reports of the tests come filtering back, there are multiple issues of where 7th grade material ends up being on 5th grade tests.  Who is determining the age appropriateness of the mathematics?  Surely not the same people who are making the test?  And while I have your attention… what really is the point of putting a question on a test that no one taking it has been trained to answer?   Why give a student who has passed algebra and trig and geometry and done well mind you, a Galileo equation?   As adults, none of us are tested on things we should not know? I mean would we really put complicated questions of Ugandan history on Beau Biden’s Bar Review that he must pass to pursue a career?  Of course not… That is torture.  To do so would just be mean and nothing else.  So why are we torturing little children?

Again, there is no definition of standards. What are they?  Can they be misused like almost the exact wording was put in law back during the Southern Segregational Era?   Do you know how many research strategies their are?   Google gives you 56,700,000 in under a second.  There have been at least 10 used in every school over the last 10 years…  So out of all of them, which one is right?  Isn’t that an extremely arbitrary decision?

Seventh:  As has been frequently pointed out, we currently have standard that must be met to teach.  They are rather difficult to achieve.  Most schools have a final exam. After four years of college it is nice to get a score to see where you stand.  And heaven forbid, if beer was your major and you failed to meet the standard of the college on its final exam, you couldn’t represent that college as alumni.  No problem there.  But I’m curious, how one expects to discern the educational aptitude of  teachers coming from a variety of locations,  like George Fox University, or the University of Central Arkansas, or Concord University, or Everglades University, or Franklin Pierce University?  Sure they pass their tests, they got their degree, but can they even be close to as good as someone coming from  a much more difficult regimen at a Delawarean university or college?   So we say No to someone to entering college got a 1400 combined on their SAT, because they didn’t pass Delaware’s stringent test, and say yes to someone from Everglades University, who entered college with a combined SAT of 1000, and was taught the test and passed it with a high score.  How does that benefit children?

That question could be fixed with an amendment requiring the GRE to be part of the assessment.  Otherwise, this action is pointless because of so many standards nationwide.

Eighth.  And here is the crucial point.   After graduating the bar of success or failure will be data collected from testing students. When a new teacher joins a district, where do you think they will be placed?  In the best classrooms with the best students?  Or in the classes after every current teacher has been given the opportunity to move up, that are left?  Obviously the latter.  So a great teacher, one who would teach suburban students amazingly, finds themselves in a classroom of students whose lifetime ambition is to get a good rep in what was once Gander Hill, but is now the Howard Young Correctional Center…  “I’m sorry miss, but your scores are embarrassing. You can’t work in Delaware anymore.”  Likewise a teacher who doesn’t give a damn, who luckily is in a great environment, gets raises year after year.   Tests do not measure students accurately, so using them to fire teachers is just plain wrong.  If you’ve read this far… you had good teachers.  None of them were tested into the ground like we are doing to ours today.  What?  How can that be?  How on earth can you have great education, one that make America into a world power, without testing 3 times a year, and again, many times between that?  How can it be?….

Obviously it was.  And in the real world, that alone would put an end to this policy of testing ad nauseum.

But we don’t live in a real world anymore, do we?  It seems not.

Ninth.  And there is one important thing that is missing.  How much will this cost?  Any estimates?  Who will get the contracts? Pearson?  ETS?  College Board? The ACE?  Someone’s getting wealthy…  But how much will this cost, and will that be supported by a tax upon the wealthy to pay for it, or will it be culled from existing programs now doing a great job today?

These issues need to be addressed before the House passes the bill….  As i said at the beginning, it all sounds nice… “higher standards for teachers?  Sure, why not?”   But then, a year later…. “What!  They fired Ms. Jones!  Are they effin’ crazy?  She’s the best teacher in this school!”  and two years later, … “Mr. Principal:  your scores are down. You failed.”  Then at three years later: “ladies and gentlemen, we are closing this school.”

Perhaps it’s time to look at bills closely before passing them unanimously.

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