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REPA's results

The Advisory Board to the Division of Professional Standards met this morning and finished revising the controversial proposed Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability (REPA).

A number of changes were made from the initial proposal, which was drafted without input from the people who will be most affected by the changes. Some of the changes appear to be in response to complaints I heard at a hearing in Rochester, one of three packed sessions the department hosted. One of the positive changes is the elimination of the noxious maximum limit on pedagogy courses.

Directly from the DOE news release:

Several changes have been made to the REPA proposal since it was first introduced in late July. These include:

Content and pedagogy requirements. With revisions, the REPA proposal requires a content-area major for those seeking to gain licensure to teach grades 5-12, without credit minimums or maximums for pedagogy coursework. The proposal allows career-changers with at least a bachelors' degree in a subject other than education to obtain an education minor and pass content-area exams to obtain a teaching license. Additionally, the proposal requires future alternative certification programs to gain approval from the advisory board.

License renewal. Teachers will have greater freedom and options for renewal. The revised document allows teachers to determine the best way to renew their licenses: by logging professional development hours or by obtaining six college credit hours.

License categories. The original REPA document reduced licensing categories from five school settings to three. With input from teachers and other stakeholders, the advisory board restored licenses for Early Childhood (Pre-K – 3) and Middle School (5-9). Also, revisions have removed Fine Arts, Health, Physical Education, Journalism and Library Media from content areas eligible for Workplace Specialist licensure.

Transition period. Revisions made to the REPA proposal have clarified the implementation timeline once the rule gains final approval from the advisory board. The transition period between Rules 2002, Indiana's current licensing regulations, and the REPA will be between the day the new rule is approved and August 31, 2013, for people currently enrolled in educator preparation programs within the state.

"The changes represent significant compromise from all involved," Bennett said. "Yet, these revisions don't at all compromise the effectiveness of our proposal. In fact, it's a better document now than it was in July. All teachers will have greater freedom, and new teachers will receive a better balance of content knowledge and pedagogy coursework in our schools of education. Most important, these are changes that will benefit Hoosier students."

The Advisory Board to the Division of Professional Standards will meet again Jan. 7 to offer a final vote on the proposed licensing changes.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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