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Raise Admissions Criteria for Prospective Teachers

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Principle Recommendation

To ensure that its elementary teachers are of the highest quality, CT should raise the bar for entrance to its educator preparation programs. Regulations should define a cohort G.P.A. of 3.0 for admission of elementary education majors.[i] Using a “cohort” requirement allows preparation programs to aggregate GPAs, thereby preventing the absolute exclusion of otherwise-qualified candidates.

Current Connecticut Statute

Connecticut regulations require a minimum grade point average of B- for students applying to schools of education (generally as college sophomores).[ii]  These regulations also require students to have passing scores on the Praxis I tests[iii] but this test can be waived if a student has a composite score of 1100 on their SATs[iv].

Raising the admissions bar is intended to increase the caliber of teacher candidates.

It could also reduce the number of elementary education candidates, which would be a better match to Connecticut’s workforce needs. CT currently produces too many elementary teachers every year. For instance, there were 180 teachers for each elementary education job opening in 2014.[v] While it is important for school leaders to have a qualified pool from which to select the best educator candidates, 180 applicants per position does not even allow the leaders time to scrutinize applications thoroughly.

A reduction of elementary education graduates could also result in better matches of highly-qualified cooperating teachers with a fewer number of student teachers (and improve the student teaching experience, too.)[vi] With only about 1 out of 25 veteran teachers both willing and qualified to take on the critical role of cooperating teacher mentor, there simply are not enough mentor teachers to do the job correctly.[vii]

Supporting Research

In 2011, a large-scale research study discovered that effective elementary teachers improved students’ reading and math performances.[viii]

Nationally, the average minimum required grade point average for admission to an educator preparation program was 2.6 (B-), but the average grade point average for candidates admitted to the program was 3.24.[ix]

Additionally, both Delaware and Rhode Island are increasing the qualifications for teacher candidates applying for admission to their education programs. In Delaware, to be admitted, teacher candidates must have a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 or a G.P.A. ranked in the top 50% of their class.[x] Rhode Island is using a cohort G.P.A. of 3.0 and S.A.T. scores of 1150 for their prospective educators.[xi]

Sources

[i] According to Title II data, the average of the median G.P.As for entrance to CT educator programs is about 3.4.
[ii] CT General Regulations Sections 10-145d. 
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] SDE Teacher Certification Assessments. Retrieved from here
[v] This is a median calculation found here in this SDE Data Bulletin, PUBLIC SCHOOL HIRING TRENDS AND TEACHER SHORTAGE AREAS FOR 2014–15, May 2014. Retrieved from here.
[vi] This is not just a CT problem, it is a national problem, recognized in the National Council on Teacher Quality in their 2011 study, Student Teaching in the United States, retrieved from here
[vii] Ibid.
[viii] Teacher Effects in Early Grades: Evidence From a Randomized Study, Spyros Konstantopoulos, Teachers College Record, 2011. Retrieved from here
[ix] The Changing Teacher Preparation ProfessionWashington, D.C.: American Association of Colleges
for Teacher Education, 2013. Retrieved from here
[x] NCTQ Teacher Prep, Standards. Retrieved from here
[xi] The cohort allows for qualified candidates to enter the program if they do not have the 3.0 G.P.A. ; candidates who meet only parts of the G.P.A./SAT requirements might have to take and pass additional assessments.  Rhode Island teacher preparation information. Retrieved from here.