Higher standards face future teachers


The statewide requirements for teacher certification among college students are getting a facelift.

Students entering into WKU’s teacher education programs will now face higher standards than in previous years. Of the changes, higher GPA requirements, higher PRAXIS I scores and more student teaching hours have the biggest impact on incoming students, said Sam Evans, dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.

“We know that increasing expectations will ultimately ensure a stronger candidate and a stronger teacher,” Evans said.

According to the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB)’s amended admission regulations from September 2011, the new GPA requirement for teacher education programs rose from a 2.5 on a 4.0 scale to a 2.75.

Along with higher GPAs, EPSB also got rid of the ACT and SAT as indicators of general knowledge, according to the amended admission regulations.

Evans, though not a member of the board directly, said he “had a voice” and understands why the tests were done away with for teaching certification standards.

“The ACT and SAT are not designed with the specific purpose of admitting people into education,” Evans said. “Also, if you deny someone based on their ACT score and then found out the company made a mistake on their exam, it’s still the university’s fault the person didn’t get certified. The companies won’t stand behind your decisions.”

Evans said the PRAXIS I scores for teacher certification are better tailored to students pursuing a teaching degree.

“PRAXIS gives us a much more accurate picture of a candidate,” Evans said. “It was designed for that purpose. The general knowledge, math, reading and writing portions center around education.”

PRAXIS scores aren’t the only standards on the rise. According to the EPSB, all teacher education candidates will have to document 200 field hours in preschool through grade 12 school settings.

Although the EPSB has set the field hour requirement to start in Sept. 2013, Evans said because WKU’s academic year starts prior to Sept. 1, changes in hour requirements won’t affect students until Jan. 2014.

Fred Carter, director of the office of Teacher Services and School Relations, said he hopes the changes will break the stereotype “that anyone can become a teacher.”

“I don’t make apologies regarding raising standards ever,” Carter said. “Education needs to attract the best and the brightest.”

EPSB, made up of school board representatives, teachers, and collegiate representatives, proposed the changes at their September 2011 meeting.

“The interesting thing with these changes is that some changes were in line with what WKU’s wanted to do for a while,” Carter said. “It’s a pat on the back for WKU that we’ve already been doing what we’re supposed to do.”

Sherry Powers, director and associate dean of the School of Teacher Education, said the proposed changes were “appropriate” and “aren’t a surprise.”

“These sorts of changes have been going on in education on both state and national levels,” Powers said. “A majority of our candidates already met and continue to meet the criteria, despite the changes.”