New certification requirements changing college teaching programs

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JEFFERSON CITY - The most recent phase of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's (DESE), "Top 10 by 20" initiative is in the works in universities across the state. 

DESE officials are working to revamp the teacher certification process in order to improve the quality of teaching in Missouri. 

One of the new requirements includes higher grade point averages for students who want to be teachers. The new GPA requirements demand students maintain a 2.75 cumulative GPA and 3.0 GPA in all professional education classes and content classes related to the certification a person is seeking. 

Another change is a new certification test called the Missouri Standards-Based Performance Assessment. This exam measures performance in clinical experiences, including student teaching and internships.

Finally, DESE will be evaluating certification programs annually, instead of every seven years as dictated in the previous system. There are more than 700 certification programs in the state.

DESE representative Sarah Potter said the changes come as a result of a need to improve performance by students in elementary and secondary schools and is not a reflection on existing certification programs in Missouri.

She also said the hope is to start recruiting the best and brightest students in the state to become teachers. 

DESE's Paul Katnik said the department has received some negative feedback about the changes.

He said, "Anything that's new, anything that's changed is a new learning curve for people and we've had plenty of discussion about all of that."

But he said the changes will be worth it.

"This is what's best for our state. We wouldn't invest the time and energy into something like this if we didn't think, down the road, we were going to be serving the kids of Missouri better," Katnik said.

DESE officials have been implementing the new requirements over the last five years and plan to have the new system fully functional by the end of 2017.