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N.H. Group Urges Expanded Access to Careers in Teaching

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A committee appointed by the New Hampshire Board of Education has recommended expanding the number of avenues to state certification to allow individuals with liberal-arts degrees to enter the teaching profession.

The report of the Committee to Study Certification, released earlier this month, also details recommendations to raise the state's certification standards and improve the quality of the teaching ranks, such as by requiring periodic testing of teacher candidates during their training.

To open the new path to attract able college graduates to the profession, the committee recommends that the state board establish internship programs for candidates with liberal-arts backgrounds who seek state certification but who lack the required education courses, according to Rosemary Duggan, assistant director of the state department of education's office of teacher education and professional standards.

Ms. Duggan said the committee also has urged the state board to require all students to pass a competency test in basic English and mathematics before being admitted to any teacher-preparation program. She said colleges and universities would be required to develop and publish the testing standards so that "students would have due notice."

Competency Tests

Institutions would also be required to administer competency tests to students upon completion of their studies, and the results would be used to evaluate the training programs, according to Ms. Duggan.. She said the exams would measure students' proficiency in the content areas for which they are requesting state certification.

The state now grants certification to teacher candidates who have graduated from a state-approved teacher-education program, completed a teacher-preparation program in another state, or taught for at least three years under a certificate awarded in another state, Ms. Duggan explained. In addition, she said the state will certify people--such as former teachers who wish to return to the field--who can demonstrate to a state board of examiners that they are competent in the content area for which they are seeking certification.

A fourth option, according to Ms. Duggan, is an emergency-certification provision that permits school systems to hire a person to teach in a shortage area for one year on the condition that he or she present a plan for demonstrating the required competency in the content area.

College Coursework

Under the committee's proposal, those who request certification through an internship in a public or private school also would be required to complete some additional college coursework in education, she said.

After conducting hearings throughout the state, the committee concluded that there is a need to establish an organized support system for new teachers and increase the state's emphasis on professional-development activities for more experienced teachers, according to Ms. Duggan.

To meet those objectives, Ms. Duggan said, the committee has recommended that colleges provide teacher candidates with more field-work experience supervised by college instructors and that school systems assign experienced teachers to work with new teachers as advisers.

The committee also has recommended that all full-time education employees, including teachers, guidance counselors, reading specialists, and administrators, complete 100 hours of inservice training every three years, of which 50 hours must be in the professional's subject or knowledge area, according to Ms. Duggan.

The state board does not plan to take any action on the recommendations until after a financial impact statement on the committee's report has been completed, she said.

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