House Bill 599 — Teacher preparation programs

Lindsay Atkinson 2020 House bill ratings Leave a Comment

Bill description: HB 599 would add sideboards to the review of nonpublic teacher preparation programs.

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Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government? 

In Idaho, every teacher preparation program must be approved by the State Board of Education before its graduates can get a teaching certificate. This is true regardless of whether the program is administered by a public university, a private university, or a nonprofit organization. 

State law gives the Professional Standards Commission of the State Board of Education wide discretion in how it reviews these programs, which has resulted in the reviews being complex and time-consuming. For instance, the current review process analyzes a teacher preparation program based on how well it lines up with core standards for teachers. There are 10 basic standards for all teachers (learner development, learning environment, planning for instruction, etc.) and dozens of enhanced standards that differ based on content area. The review process also considers how a preparation program assesses teachers’ knowledge, how it exposes them to advisors, and examines pedagogy and subject area knowledge.

According to this bill’s statement of purpose, current “reviews include a review team of up to 15-20 individuals — many of whom are public employees — who make site visits for as long as a week and produce a report of more than 200 pages.” 

Currently, certain programs that are reviewed can only prepare educators for certain endorsements, and not others. It is up to the judgement of the Professional Standards Commission to decide which fields a program can prepare teachers for. For instance, BYU-Idaho can produce biology teachers, but not journalism teachers (only ISU can produce journalism teachers). And these institutions have to be reviewed every three years or so.

HB 599 proposes to change this long and complicated process, at least for programs run by private universities and nonprofits. This bill would write into law certain requirements that the state must comply with in reviewing teacher preparation programs. As a result, the review process would not be completely left up to rules established by a state agency. 

HB 599 would direct a teacher certification to be granted to graduates of nonpublic programs who:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree
  • Submit to a background check
  • Pass a content training requirement
  • Pass pedagogical training requirement

The bill specifically restricts the review process for nonpublic teacher preparation programs to be “limited to verification of the criteria” above. 

Placing these requirements in law holds government administrators more accountable because they are set by elected officials and not by bureaucrats. Currently, the requirements for the review process are set in rule, which is formed by unelected officials. On top of that, this new “review” process would be less complex and  less time-consuming than the current process, and it would narrow the power granted to the State Board of Education. 

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