Last month, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) held a hearing on holding intern teachers to higher standards when handling English-learning students. Over the weekend, the commission took action and raised those standards.
Previously, the commission did not have specific requirements for training intern teachers on how to work with English-learning students. What the new requirements entail is more supervision, support, and guidance as intern teachers work throughout the school year. In addition, pre-service training will include English-learning instruction.
With regards to new training and guidelines, EdSource summed up the Commission’s course of action:
(1) Every intern program approved by the CTC must have a memorandum of understanding between the program administrators and the school district outlining the responsibilities of each, such as who provides supervision and support in the classroom;
(2) Interns must receive 144 hours of support during the school year, with a minimum of two hours per week in course planning, coaching within the classroom, and problem solving;
(3) Districts must also provide an additional 45 hours per year of support, mentoring and coaching specifically focused on teaching English learners from a mentor teacher who has an English learner authorization;
(4) The Commission will establish minimum levels of content and expectations for what interns need to learn during their 120 hours of pre-service training, before they begin the formal intern program;
(5) Districts will have to submit biennial reports to the CTC containing the number of interns they have and what type of supervision and support they’re receiving.
The 120 hours of pre-service training, however, is already full of content for interns to learn. Inserting English-learning student instruction may spread the training thin. Stakeholders such as teachers’ unions, civil rights groups, and school administration all agree that this is going to be the biggest challenge to the new requirements.
What exactly are intern teachers? A traditional path to becoming a K-12 education goes through a post-graduate credentialing program at a university followed by an employment search.
An alternative route is available, which is to intern as a teacher. After pre-service training, interns are placed into classrooms to gain real experience. School districts have their own variations on teacher intern programs and universities also have teacher intern paths. All intern paths are now changed by the CTC’s decision to heighten standards.
Intern teachers make up a small portion of those who wish to become an educator. In the 2010-2011 school year, only 2,744 of the 18,734 educators seeking credentials were in an intern program. There has been an overall decrease in those who seek teacher credentials, a 6.5 percent drop between 2006 to 2011.