Teacher Prep Reform Bills Pass House Committee

Bob Kefgen's picture

Just before leaving for their spring break, the House Education Reform Committee reported out a package of eight bills that would make significant changes to the laws governing teacher preparation in Michigan. Among other things, the legislation would impose continuing education requirements on college and university faculty, require specific content in subjects like classroom management and using data to inform instruction be added to undergraduate curriculum, and revise the student teaching experience.

The Bills

All tolled, the package contains eight bills that address a number of different aspects within teacher preparation:

  • College faculty continuing education (HB 5598)
  • Degree warranty programs (HB 5599)
  • Mentor Teachers (HB 5600 & HB 5602)
  • Student teaching (HB 5601 & HB 5604)
  • Teacher preparation program content (HB 5603 & HB 5605)

Here is a detailed breakdown of each piece of legislation:

Bill Description
HB 5598
College Faculty Continuing Ed
Require teacher preparation providers to require all full-time faculty to complete 30 hours of continuing ed per year. The continuing ed must be specific to the subject area(s) the faculty member teaches and include:

  • Observation of K-12 academic instruction in a variety of settings (urban, rural, ELL, high-poverty, students w/ disabilities),
  • Social and emotional learning,
  • Teacher evaluation tools,
  • Classroom management, and
  • Assessment literacy and using data to inform instruction.
HB 5599
Degree Warranty
Require teacher preparation providers to offer a degree warranty program that would remediate any student - free of cost - who meets the following criteria:

  • Graduated from any MI teacher prep program in the previous two years,
  • Is teaching in grades K-12 in Michigan, and
  • Receives a rating of less than effective and is placed on an IDP.
HB 5600
Mentor Teacher Stipend
Require teacher preparation providers to pay $1,000 stipend to teachers who take on a student teacher.
HB 5601
Pre-Student Teaching
Require teacher preparation providers to require students to engage in at least 400 hours of K-12 classroom experience or practicum experience in addition to their student teaching.
HB 5602
Master Teacher Corps
Require MDE to create a 100-member Master Teacher Corps (MTC) made up of classroom teachers from across the state who were nominated by their local district. The bill stipulates details about the nomination and selection process. The MTC program would:

  • Empower MTC members to provide PD to other teachers (this PD would count as SCHECHs for both recipients and MTC instructors).
  • Require MDE to collaborate w/ the MTC on new pilot programs.
  • Create a forum for MTC member to act as policy advisers to MDE and the Legislature.
  • Pay MTC members a yearly stipend of $5,000-$10,000.
  • Examine the use of MTC members to support struggling schools.
HB 5603
Literacy Instruction
Require candidates seeking an elementary endorsement to complete 12 credits in the teaching of reading (up from 6 credits ), including instruction on a host of specific topics. The requirements for secondary-level candidates would remain at MDE discretion (MDE currently requires 3 credits). The bill would also change assessment requirements for an elementary-level endorsement:

  • Adds an assessment of pedagogical skills, which would include assessing a candidates ability to effectively deliver instruction.
  • Amends the subject area exam for reading to assess the candidates mastery of the specific topics mandated as part of the 12 credits.
HB 5604
Student Teaching
Require teacher preparation providers to offer a student teaching program that incorporated:

  • Diverse student teachings experiences including at least two of the following: rural setting, urban setting, ELL students, schools with high-poverty, students with disabilities, instruction on social and emotional learning practices.
  • A prohibition on student teaching in a school you attended (with a hardship exemption if that is impractical).
  • An intro to the teacher eval tool used by the local district.
  • Assessment literacy and using data to inform instruction.
  • Classroom management skills.
HB 5605
General Course Requirements
Require teacher preparation providers to embed the following into their coursework:

  • Assessment literacy and using data to inform instruction.
  • Classroom management skills.
  • Teaching students from diverse settings or with specialized needs (urban, rural, ELL, high-poverty, students w/ disabilities).
  • Instruction on social and emotional learning practices.

The Politics and Next Steps

MASSP joined other education groups in voicing support for elements of the package (in particular, those that add more practical skills and experiences to the teacher preparation process, and help ensure that college faculty are more connected to the needs of the field) and appreciation for the legislature's willingness to tackle teacher preparation reform. MASSP is working with the bill sponsors on amendments to the package to make sure that the requirements neither impose additional burdens on schools districts nor create significant disincentives for prospective teachers.

Michigan's teacher preparation providers raised concerns with the legislation as introduced, though they indicated willingness to work on some aspects of the legislation. Unsurprisingly, since they come with a significant potential price tag, the two bills that seem to be of greatest concern to colleges and universities are the proposed degree warranty program and the requirement to provide stipends to mentor teachers.

Since every single bill sponsor was a majority member of the House Education Reform Committee, it's unsurprising that the bills made it out of committee with overwhelming support. What remains to be seen is whether there is enough support among legislators outside the committee to take on a potentially controversial issue in an election year.

The package is now on the House floor awaiting a vote of the full chamber, after which it will need to make it through the Senate committee process and make it off the Senate floor. So the bills still have a long path ahead and limited time to make it across the finish line before the end of the legislative session.