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Survey Asks Teachers and Administrators About Minnesota Licensure

Recent changes (February 2012) in Minnesota law will make it harder for teachers to earn a teaching license. This will impact, in particular, immersion teachers whose first language is not English. MAIN asked immersion school administrators and teachers about the process of earning a Minnesota teaching license and what could be done to help immersion schools find and keep qualified teachers.

The questions for administrators were:

  1. How would a five year variance for your immersion teachers help you or your school?

  2. How many quality immersion teachers have you lost over the years because of variance issues related to licensure?

  3. When it comes to licensure issues, what support systems would you like to see in place for your immersion teachers?

  4. Is there anything else you'd like to share related to licensure issues?

The questions for teachers were:

  1. How would a five-year variance help you to attain a teaching license?

  2. Which test has been the most difficult for you?

  3. Of the most difficult test from Question 2, what made it challenging?

  4. Is there anything else you'd like to share related to licensure issues?

Twenty-seven administrators responded to the survey. The administrators would like to

  • see no time limits placed on the tests* that teacher candidates must take, 
  • have bilingual personnel at MDE to help shepherd non-native English speakers through the licensure process,
  • have universities and colleges offer test preparation courses to help candidates who, in particular, are non-native speakers of English or have not been through the American school system,
  • see MDE honor out of state and out of country teaching licenses,
  • see the introduction of a limited license for immersion teaching only that might be suitable for non-native English speakers who never expect to teach in an English-speaking classroom 

*It should be noted that a waiver for testing already exists; teachers and principals need to know to ask for it.

Forty-four teachers responded to the survey indicating the following (click on graphs to enlarge):

  • The Basic Skills test is the easiest to pass (nearly 2/3 of respondents thought so) but also has the highest percentage of “most difficult” responses (about 30% - mostly in the writing subtest),
  • The time limitation is the biggest hurdle in taking the tests,
  • Scheduling is extremely challenging. Candidates for teaching licenses who work in immersion schools must not only find time to study and prepare for the test, or a retake of the text, but by working in an immersion school they are also often committed to developing curriculum, translating materials, and negotiating a new culture (both American, generally and school, specifically) while they are teaching daily,
  • Non-native English speakers expressed interest in an immersion-specific license, especially if they thought they would probably never teach in an English classroom,
  • Teachers would like more assistance from MDE when approaching them with questions and concerns about the licensure process.

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