Although the state has also created alternative routes for teacher preparation, more than 95 percent of those who come into the profession from the state go through the following steps:
To get into a school of education, would-be teachers must have at least a 2.75 grade point average and pass a test covering basic mathematics and literacy skills: the computer version of the Educational Testing Service’s PRAXIS I exam. Connecticut has one of the highest cutoff scores for the test in the country. This requirement is waived for those who scored high on their college-entrance exams.
Some education courses are required, but every teacher-candidate must also complete an academic major and maintain a B average in that area. To get the state’s “initial” license, the candidate also must student-teach for 10 weeks and pass the PRAXIS II subject-specific exam on pedagogy in the area they plan to teach. Again, the state boasts some of the highest cutoff scores for the tests.
An initial license allows an educator to teach for up to three years. During that time, the novice teacher must complete the BEST program. It involves working with a mentor for one year and the completion of a portfolio. State assessors review new teachers’ portfolios and videotapes of their instruction, and grade them on a scale of 1 to 4. A 2 or above qualifies a teacher for the next level of credential--a “provisional” license. Low-scoring teachers may take a third year to redo the portfolio assessment, but failure a second time means a candidate may no longer teach in a Connecticut public school.
Provisional licenses are good for up to eight years. During that time, teachers must complete 30 credit hours of college coursework in education beyond what they did for their undergraduate degree (unless they already have, such as by earning a master’s). Beginning in 2003, that coursework must be at the graduate school level.
The additional coursework, plus three years’ teaching experience, makes educators eligible for the state’s highest level of credential: a professional license. Teachers must renew their licenses every five years by completing additional training, such as more graduate coursework, workshops, and other forms of professional development.
See Earning Their Stripes for the main story.
A version of this article appeared in the January 13, 2000 edition of Education Week