New Teacher Certification Structure Announced to Improve Preparation

Chelsey Martinez's picture

A new teacher certification is in the works. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE), in collaboration with MASSP and other stakeholders, have been working to revise Michigan's teacher certification structure and improve the preparation of the state's educator workforce. The plan was recently announced via an MDE memo at the end of April and formally presented to the State Board of Education on May 8. The changes to Michigan's current system are in an effort develop a "students-first system" that prepares effective educators to use differentiated supports and meet the needs of the whole child.

Overview of Restructure

The design of the new teacher certification structure is focused on a deeper preparation of teachers to meet the unique learning needs of children at each grade level, particularly in early literacy. The structure includes: focused grade bands to provide new teachers with specialized knowledge about the students and content they will teach; defined clinical experiences and foundational coursework for each grade band; unique preparation for instructing middle level learners; and enhanced content knowledge preparation for middle school teachers to award high school credit.

The structure includes five certifications in the following grade bands:

  • PK-3 - All subjects with a focus on ELA and Math with PK-3 pedagogy
  • 3-6 - All subjects with a focus on ELA and Math with 3-6 pedagogy
  • 5-9 - Select 2/4 core subjects with 5-9 pedagogy
  • 7-12 - One subject with 7-12 pedagogy (but can add another with additional course work)
  • PK-12 - One subject in the arts, foreign language or technology cluster (same as exists today)

There would be no changes to the current certification structure for Special Education or CTE.

MDE solicited feedback on this plan from educators across the state at all levels in 2017. The department reviewed more than 3,000 surveys, including nearly 10,000 comments. Additionally, feedback and support was received from Michigan education organizations, including MASSP, along with important considerations for implementation. The overall response was 70% positive. Refinements are being made to help address some of the concerns expressed in that feedback.

Next Steps

There's still work to be done when it comes to addressing the concerns raised by stakeholders, including MASSP. (View a copy of our letter to MDE here) According to MDE, those areas of concern are focused on the following:

  • Appropriate placement of incoming and current staff (fit, shortage, small schools, etc.)
  • Improved pathways for teachers to add endorsements
  • Program implementation timeline
  • Guidance for teacher preparation programs
  • Teacher mobility and marketability
  • Current teacher's certificates
  • Adjusts needed to current flexibilities/permit system

MDE intends to roll out the certification structure in tiers, beginning with Elementary grade bands followed by Middle and High School content areas. The new Elementary standards are expected to be presented to the State Board of Education in August. The department will revise PK-12 endorsement program standards as appropriate. The first teachers to enter the field under the new certification structure are expected to exit traditional teacher preparation programs in Fall 2025.

MASSP will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes available about the new certification structure, including answers to the concerns above and other important details. Stay tuned!