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New teaching criteria rolled out in 2009


In a recent news story and follow-up editorial, the Watertown Daily Times criticized the state Education Department’s too-fast rollout of teacher certification requirements and, in particular, the requirement that teacher candidates take the Education Teacher Performance Assessment.

Unfortunately, the Times got a few key facts wrong.

New York state began to evolve the certification process in 2009 when the Board of Regents approved the strengthening of the examinations for the certification of teacher and principals. Schools of education were informed of these changes in 2010.

As we made these changes, we incorporated input from educators at every stage. Over the past four years, the NYSED has taken a step-by-step approach to implement the new requirements including field testing the EdTPA, providing $10 million in federal Race to the Top funding to help colleges and universities prepare their students for the higher standards, and working closely with higher education and P-12 educators across the state to ensure the new requirements are appropriate.

In fact, the timeline for full implementation was already pushed back one year to give students and teacher preparation programs more time to prepare.

This year (2014) will be the first year teacher candidates have to meet the new requirements.

There is nothing more crucial to a student’s success at school than having an effective teacher in a school led by an effective principal.

New York is raising standards for our students, but that effort can only succeed if we demand just as much excellence from the educators who will teach them.

Our new teachers must be better prepared to help their students meet the higher expectations of college and career readiness in the 21st century.

Our international competitors and states with the strongest academic outcomes like Massachusetts have shown that raising the bar for new teacher candidates is a tremendous advantage for students as they work to meet higher standards.

Gov. Cuomo last year called for an increase in “standards for teacher certification ... by requiring passage of a bar exam.”

The new assessments are not easy, and they shouldn’t be.

We expect fewer teacher candidates will pass, especially on the first try.

We owe it to our prospective teachers to make sure they’re ready for the challenges of the classroom.

But most importantly, we owe it to our students to raise the bar for their teachers.

Teaching is the core of every student’s opportunity for success.

And higher standards for our teachers will mean better chances for our students to graduate ready for the challenges of college and careers.

Dennis Tompkins


The writer is chief of external affairs for the New York State Education Department.

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