Uncategorized Education News: New licensing regulations signed; 2nd virtual charter approved

Education News: New licensing regulations signed; 2nd virtual charter approved

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In back-to-back announcements this week, the tide of public educationin Indiana has taken a significant shift.

On Tuesday, Governor Mitch Daniels signed new teacher licensing rules that will allow school boards to hire a new superintendent from any (non-educational) professional field if the individual holds a master’s degree. Then on Wednesday the Indiana Dept. of Education announced that a second virtual charter school had been approved

Indiana Department of Education’s Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability

In the fall of 2009, a flood of calls were received in Senate Democrat offices asking that the proposed rule changes to teacher and superintendent licensing be halted. In particular, public opinion was not favorable on allowing professionals from any field to become superintendents without obtaining the educational requirements currently necessary. A clear majority of respondents in Senate Districts 1, 2, 8, 10, 25, 26, 33, 34, 38, 45, 47, 48 and 49 indicated that they opposed that change.

After a series of public hearings and public input, some amendments were made to the original proposal. The rule changes were then approved by the Indiana Professional Standards Advisory Board on January 7, before being signed by the governor this week.

The new rules go into effect July 31, 2010. For more information on the Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability, read the governor’s press release or visit the Department of Education’s web site.

Other changes under the Indiana Department of Education’s Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability (REPA):

» Secondary teachers (Grades 5-12) must earn a bachelor’s degree in the subject they will teach, along with a minor in education.
» Elementary teachers (K-6) must earn a bachelor’s degree in education with a subject minor or a subject major with an education minor.
» All teachers will have to pass subject tests as a requirement to obtain their license.
» Current teachers will be able to teach new subjects by proving their knowledge with tests rather than returning to campus for college credits. And they will be able to earn professional development credits in-house for license renewal rather than having to return to campus.
» New teachers will no longer have to complete a portfolio or be mentored.

Virtual Charter Schools

In 2007 lawmakers approved a two-year moratorium on virtual charter schools in the state budget. The issue was then reviewed by 2008 Interim Study Committee on Education, where members voiced concerns over the availability of performance data for virtual schools currently in existence, funding mechanisms, fraud, teacher quality, and equity. That moratorium expired in 2009, and despite concerns the state’s first virtual charter school, the Hoosier Academy, opened last fall.
Many Democrats from both chambers pushed to delay the implementation of a two-year Virtual Charter School Pilot Program approved in 2009 to allow for the establishment of charter schools where 50% of the instruction is provided online or by computer-based instructions. The move, which ultimately failed, could have saved the state up to $2 million annually and given us an opportunity to address concerns before moving to a full virtual program.