Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-382

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING TEACHER CERTIFICATION.

Vote Date:

3/20/2012

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/13/2012

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee on behalf of Sen. Beth Bye, 5th Senatorial District

REASONS FOR BILL:

To address a problem that was created when the State legislated a change in the elementary education endorsement from 1-6 to K-6. This resulted in the State having too few Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and ECE programs at teacher training institutions and too many elementary teachers.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

The wording of the bill was amended to allow teachers with an existing K-6 elementary endorsement to be grand-fathered, with their full endorsement honored after the effective date of the change.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

None expressed.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Maggie Adair, Executive Director, CT Early Childhood Alliance: Testified and submitted written testimony in support. She said that enactment of this bill would change the current elementary endorsement in teacher preparatory colleges from grades K-6 to grades 1-6. This change would help to remedy the lack of ECE teachers in the State.

She explained that several years ago a teaching student could choose a curriculum of ECE through grade 3 or grades 1-6. Several years ago the State regulations expanded the Elementary endorsement to include kindergarten. This resulted in more prospective teachers choosing to pursue the K-6 Elementary degree instead of the more restrictive ECE degree. Today the State has too many Elementary education teachers and too few ECE teachers. The numbers of ECE programs have declined as well.

Young children learn differently than children in grades 4 to 6. The program of studies for ECE teachers focuses on a different set of fundamental concepts than the curriculum for teaching older children. When teachers are prepared for K-6 this early childhood specialized knowledge base is watered down with more focus on curriculum and instruction.

Ms. Adair stressed that this bill also strengthens the argument for pay parity for pre-K teachers. Currently a typical kindergarten teacher's salary is about $60,000, but a pre-K teacher in a State-funded program receives about $31,000. She concludes that if the State is serious about closing the achievement gap then we need to begin in a child's early years and the ECE teachers need to be fairly compensated.

Dr. Paige Bray, Professor, University of Hartford and Early Childhood Higher Education Alliance: Testified in support stating that as a professor of Early Childhood Education her program was marginalized when the State legislated the K-6 elementary certification. She said that prospective teachers have chosen to pursue the more marketable K-6 certificate rather than the Pre-K to 3rd grade certificate.

She explained that Kindergarten is a bridge experience into formal schooling. As such it is a critical transition time for children and parents. ECE's are trained to work with both children and their parents and to pay attention to the “whole person”. The ECE programs focus on a different set of core concepts that can be vital for mastery of the 3rd grade literary test.

She has found that teachers who want to work with younger children generally know this when they begin higher education. The effect of the current K-6 certification has been to cause these future ECE teachers to move to more elementary content for the sake of employment opportunities.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Linette Branham, Director, Policy and Professional Practice, CT Education Association: Submitted written testimony stating the CEA withholds support for this bill until the following concerns are explored.

She said that as currently written, enactment of this bill would result in (1) the elimination of Kindergarten from the elementary certificate (2) the inclusion of Kindergarten in the special education certificate. She surmised that this might be to ensure that Kindergarten teachers are better prepared to teach special education students, allowing them to identify these students at an earlier age and addressing their needs sooner. She recognizes that the new Kindergarten credential would include the ECE certificate as well.

She cautions however, that as this bill is currently written, the change of elementary endorsements would occur on July 1st. This would result in thousand of teachers who hold the K-6 certificate being ineligible to teach Kindergarten in fall 2012. She warns that this happened in the State once before and Elementary Principles has to rush to seek out ECE certificate holders to teach their Kindergarten classes.

Another problem with enactment of the current bill would be that teacher training schools would not have the time to design and get approval for their ECE programs or to expand existing programs. This again would result in a shortage of qualified Kindergarten teachers for several years.

Reported by: Jeanne Reed, Assistant Clerk

Date: March 26, 2012

 

Jeanie B. Phillips, Clerk