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MACTE Successfully Advocates for Michigan EPPs

Organized collective voices can make a difference. Over the past four years, the Michigan Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE) and other stakeholders have worked closely with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) in the development and implementation of dramatic changes to the licensure guidelines and standards for PK-12 teachers. The Michigan Department of Education has moved to narrow certification bands to a model more inclusive of students’ needs. This “students first” teacher certification system focuses on the whole child and moving our state forward to becoming a top 10 education state in the next 10 years. It was created with input from educators, schools, educator preparation programs, and parents.

The EPP applications for the new elementary programs were to be submitted in November 2020 or April 2021. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions were finding it hard to meet these deadlines with the limited resources and reached out to MACTE for help. Through the process of leading collaboration with other organizations, dialog with state partners, and creating cohesive arguments with a specific request, MACTE was able to not only advocate for its EPP members, but for the candidates completing their programs. 

MACTE responded by composing a letter to the director of the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Educator Excellenc, requesting an extension of the application deadline to the next academic year as well as an extension of the sunset deadline for the elementary tests of the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification for the program that is being replaced.  The Michigan Independent Educator Preparation Institution (MEIPI) and Michigan Public Education Deans (MPED) groups were also concerned with the impending timeline. MEIPI and MPED supported the MACTE’s proposal and joined us in signing this letter in support of this effort. As a collective we made the request to the Michigan Department of Education. The letter stressed the following. 

With the common goal of producing the strongest and most qualified educators possible, we requested a shared understanding and alteration to the timelines stating:

“Much of the positive work the MDE and legislators completed regarding timelines surrounding the implementation of the grade bands is now deserving of a second look in light of the unprecedented changes to higher education because of the pandemic …  Justification for this request includes, but is not limited to

  • Budget projections will alter the availability of funds for full-time, adjunct, and clinical experiences as many universities are currently planning for an average of 20% reduction in departmental funding.
  • Fall 2020 release time for faculty at many institutions will be non-existent or limited hampering the ability of faculty to write to the new standards.
  • Summer 2020 support for faculty to lead program revisions at many institutions has evaporated as courses are being shifted to online and summer to generate revenue.
  • Uncertainty of ability to return to face-to-face teaching in fall 2020 at PK-12 schools and/or at colleges and universities.
  • Limited resources at many institutions are now being diverted to preparing faculty who teach on campus to meeting Higher Learning Commission credentialing requirements for online teaching so as to be prepared for potential fall 2020 online delivery of instruction
  • Should K12 and universities open for face-to-face instruction in the fall, limitations may be placed on in-person contact from non-school personnel requiring programs to invest in the development of alternate clinical instruction and engagement.
  • Efforts to assist students in compensating for missed 2019-2020 instructional time will be added stress to K12 schools limiting availability for partners to authentically collaborate on program redesign.

Reasons for MTTC extensions include, but are not limited to

  • Candidates’ progression through the program may be slowed due to a variety of reasons, including illness, funds, and level of comfort returning to campus, resulting in candidates taking longer to finish and not meeting the existing deadline.
  • If MDE accepts the proposal to add an additional submission option (November 2021) and start date (September 2022), candidates entering old programs in September 2021 will need the time to take the test.”

The Director of the Office of Educator Excellence (MDE) responded June 23, 2020, stating they are honoring our request to “provide maximum flexibility for institutions to customize programming for candidates during this transition intermediate milestones for ceasing enrollment into current K-5/5-8 programs and for ceasing the offering of coursework for such programs (that) are no longer mandated.” We worked closely with our MDE colleagues throughout the program creation and transition, contributed to stakeholder groups and standard writing committees, and developed a solid relationship. Our letter, in collaboration with our partner organization, showed a collective request for a need for change. Relationships, collaboration, and leadership resulted in a positive result for programs and for candidates. 

 Beth Kubitskey is MACTE president and Anne Tapp is MACTE president emeritus.