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$13M grant speeds up teaching program

Capitalizing on a federal grant combined with the upcoming transition to semesters, the School of Teaching and Learning at OSU is developing more ways for students to become teachers faster.

Project ASPIRE: Apprenticeships Supported by Partnerships for Innovation and Reform in Education, funded the development of the new program.

The project is a five-year federal grant of $12.9 million to support education reform in Ohio, with OSU and Columbus City Schools serving as the administrator, The Lantern reported in 2009.

The grant provides incentives for graduates of the program to teach within Columbus City Schools for a period of three years. The grant was part of a pool of money distributed to universities across the U.S. as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The change comes as programs across the university prepare to convert to a semester schedule.

“If we’re going to really create an undergraduate pathway, this would be the time,” said Rebecca Kantor, director of the School of Teaching and Learning. “The leaders of the university were urging us all, across the board, to use the semester change as an opportunity to look at programs; not just to flip the switch from quarters to semesters, but to really consider our programs and our curricula. This was absolutely the right time to make the change and include an undergrad program.”

The School of Teaching and Learning, part of the College of Education and Human Ecology, has proposed curriculum and administrative changes to degree programs relevant to the education field, including early and middle childhood education.

These changes aim to accommodate students starting college, those looking to change programs and graduates looking for a career change.

The College of Education and Human Ecology and the University Council of Academic Affairs reviewed and approved the new curriculum. The Board of Regents has not yet approved the curriculum. Kantor anticipates approval in the spring 2011 and initial offering for the 2012-13 school year, to coincide with the change to semesters.

For OSU students seeking licensure as teachers, the only current option is to earn a master’s degree in five years.

Under the proposed change to the program, incoming freshmen in an education field will be able to complete a bachelor’s degree in four years, which includes licensure as a teacher, Kantor said.

Completion time, however, for students changing majors will depend on their progress in their previous program, Kantor said.

This is the second time an undergraduate degree in education is being offered at OSU. The degree was offered until the early-to-mid 1990’s, Kantor said, but did not give specifics about the reasons it was discontinued.

For graduates who wish to change careers, a master’s in education, including licensure to teach, can be achieved in one year, Kantor said.

Andrea Bowlin, chief of staff and director of external relations for the College of Education and Human Ecology expressed enthusiasm for these new options as a way for OSU alumni to embark upon a new career.

“The new program will provide multiple pathways for licensure, while maintaining the integrity of our current program,” Bowlin said.

Kantor emphasized the importance of diversity among teachers.

The Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 1 in 2009, which covers topics from the Ohio Department of Transportation to the Ohio Department of Aging, and amended procedures for licensing of teachers.

The bill changes the career ladder for teachers in their first five years. Teachers entering the profession will now participate in an ongoing mentorship program, much like a doctor completes a residency program. The aim of the bill is to strengthen the relationship between the state, the school district and the teachers.

“We don’t need cookie-cutter teachers in our schools,” Kantor said. “We need teachers that are well-prepared across the board, who bring different strengths to their teaching role.”


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