Topeka New licensing policies designed to clear some barriers to getting teachers into classrooms won't result in less-qualified instructors, three Kansas State Board of Education members said Monday.
The board members said they are trying to dispel an impression that the board voted earlier this month to lower standards because some districts face a shortage of teachers, particularly in math and science. Instead, they said, the board updated its policies to make them less bureaucratic.
One change ends the requirement that teachers coming to Kansas from outside the state have graduated from college with a 2.5 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale, which isn't required of those graduating from a college in the state. Another allows science teachers who are certified for one subject to teach another after passing a test in the new area.
The changes are expected to take effect in August. Board Chairman Bill Wagnon, of Topeka, and members Sue Gamble, of Shawnee, and Carol Rupe, of Wichita, have said they have been hearing criticism.
"Actually, standards have been upgraded and refined for 21st-century learning," Gamble said.
More than 1,100 teaching positions in the state's 296 school districts are vacant, many of them in math, science and special education.
"Any time you change from what people are familiar with, it looks like it's a dilution, because they don't understand how we're sort of stepping back and looking at the problem from a different perspective," Wagnon said.
Martha Gage, who directs the Department of Education's teacher licensing program, said other states are abandoning college GPA requirements for incoming teachers because they, like Kansas, also use rigorous standardized tests to examine how well teachers know their subjects and how to teach.
Gamble said it makes no sense to exclude a veteran teacher based on college grades earned years before when that teacher has been successful in the classroom.