State review finds holes in alternative educator preparation program

Idaho’s largest alternative educator preparation program could have to rethink, retool or face the rejection of some of its services, according to a state review.

A state program approval team found insufficient evidence that some programs offered by the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence adequately prepare professionals to teach in Idaho.

According to a draft report obtained by Idaho Education News, a state team recommended Idaho authorizers not approve seven of 14 education programs offered by ABCTE, including literacy programs and social studies.

ABCTE is an online company which operates in 15 states and bills itself as a cheap and easy way for working professionals to get certified to teach. Upwards of 800 Idaho teaching candidates have been through the program since 2014-2015.

Each educator preparation program authorized in Idaho is subject to periodic reviews coordinated by the State Department of Education. ABCTE’s review is the first step in a lengthy re-approval process. The review heads to the SDE’s Professional Standards Commission, which can agree to or change the state’s recommendations.

ABCTE has time to reply to the draft report before it is submitted to the commission. The company can also propose changes to fix the programs state reviewers recommended for non-approval.

After the commission considers the review and ABCTE’s response, the commission will issue recommendations to the State Board of Education. The State Board ultimately decides whether or not to approve educator preparation programs.

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Representatives for ABCTE did not reply to requests for comment on the review.

State reviewers went through documents and lesson plans and did interviews with educator candidates before recommending non-approval of the following ABCTE programs:

  • Pre-Service Technology
  • Model Pre-service Student Teaching Experience
  • Social Studies Foundation Standards
  • Idaho Standards for History Teachers
  • Idaho Standards for English Language Arts teachers
  • Idaho Standards for Exceptional Child Generalists
  • Idaho Standards for Literacy Teachers

Seven other programs need some kind of action, state reviewers found. The group recommended conditional approval for:

  • Idaho Core Teaching Standards
  • Idaho Standards for Mathematics Teachers
  • Idaho Science Foundation Standards
  • Idaho Standards for Biology Teachers
  • Idaho Standards for Chemistry Teachers
  • Idaho Standards for Physics Teachers
  • Idaho Standards for Elementary Teachers

Lisa Colón Durham, director of Certification & Professional Standards for the SDE anticipates the Professional Standards Commission will discuss the ABCTE review at a September meeting. The PSC’s recommendations could then be considered by the State Board before the end of the year.

If any programs offered by ABCTE are not re-approved, the students in the program would be able to matriculate out, Colón Durham said, but the programs couldn’t accept any new students.

“The intention truly behind the program reviews is for continuous improvement,” Colón Durham said. “…It’s in the spirit of: How do we continue to improve the preparation of Idaho’s teachers and leaders so that we have the best teachers in the state of Idaho?”

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