April 15, 2010
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SRU's new middle-school education program gets go ahead
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The paperwork is in order and Slippery Rock University's College of Education will begin offering courses this summer in its new middle-level education program for those seeking careers as grade four through eight teachers.
"Our program has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the SRU University Curriculum Committee and the provost," said Edwin Christmann, chair of the secondary education/foundations of education department and leader of the revamped curriculum.
The program, which will be fully implemented fall semester, has been in development for nearly two years after the state education department issued new guidelines teachers will need before being hired starting in 2013.
"It was a difficult transition, but we were able to match all of the pieces" Christmann said. "We had to align Pennsylvania Department of Education criteria with education and graduation criteria from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education as well as Slippery Rock University's degree criteria. We think we have done that in a way our students will benefit."
"The middle-school teacher preparation program now requires those studying to be teachers to have a higher concentration in their specific content area - mathematics, science, social studies or English," Christmann said. "While the student may elect to concentrate in one of these areas by undertaking the required 30 hours of courses, the new rules require they also increase their course hours in the other, related, content areas for middle school. That means a student looking to concentrate as an English teacher, will also need additional math courses, more science courses and more social studies courses."
All students will be required to undertake at least two methods classes and will have 40 hours of intensive field work - double the previous requirement.
"A major change within the courses will be the content specificity," he said. "This will give our students more flexibility and versatility in their teaching."
Education majors will still need the standard 120-123 credit hours to graduate.
The new guidelines apply across Pennsylvania, so most other education colleges are expected to also change their curriculums to meet the new rules, Christmann said. "We are among the first in the state to have our program in place and approved. Parents and high school students are already showing interest. They are calling with questions and looking for information about our program," he said.
Those interested in teaching the lower grades will now concentrate their studies in the early childhood pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade program. Those hoping to teach older students will major in the secondary education program with a focus on teaching in grades seven through 12. "There is now some overlap," Christmann said.
SRU's College of Education will offer dual programs to those students already enrolled as education majors so they will not be required to undertake additional coursework.
Christmann said the new program requires those planning careers in education to make a decision about which student level areas they are most interested in teaching early in their studies. "Students looking to become teachers will have to decide on the grade level they are most interested in early on in order to be able to efficiently complete their SRU studies," he said.
All education majors will now also have to undertake nine credit hours in special education areas as part of what is known as "Chapter 49," and will be required to take an "English Language Learner" course geared to teaching bi-lingual students.
Christmann said he expects some potential balancing to take place in the coming years as school systems determine what level teachers they need and as students determine at what level they want to teach. "There could be a big demand for new teachers with middle-level certification at the same time we may be graduating a number of students who have determined they want to teach at the pre-K level or the higher level. It will take some time to balance out."
SRU's College of Education is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives. -