Nov. 6, 2004 – More teachers in V.I. schools are becoming certified, but the pace has fallen below what must be maintained to comply with a U.S. Department of Education agreement mandating 100 percent certification by 2007.
Two stumbling blocks for teachers are passing the standardized Praxis I exam and retroactively fulfilling the student teaching requirement.
The V.I. Board of Education heard a report Friday that 116 teachers were certified this fall. Tregenza Roach, the board's executive director, said to be in compliance by 2007, 20 percent of the territory's teachers, or about 287, should be certified each year. Last year 347 were added to the certified list.
This year's figure could grow dramatically as 116 teachers only need to pass the Praxis I exam to gain certification and many will take that test on Nov. 20. However, Sen. Lorraine Berry observed back in August that many who attempt the test do not pass. (See "National Test Cited as Teacher Certification Lags").
Board member Keith Richards reported on a committee effort to devise an alternative route to certification. He said that route could be more difficult than the route already in place. He said, "We want to make sure we have highly-qualified teachers teaching in the Virgin Islands." He added that the U.S. Department of Education would not approve any "watered-down route."
Board member Liston Davis said there was resistance among veteran teachers concerning the fulfillment of the student teaching requirement. He said, "These are teachers who have become master teachers, chairmen of their departments and have excelled in their profession." He suggested that the district have a course in effective teaching that could substitute for the student teaching requirement.
Richards said the University of Virgin Islands is designing a clinical assessment course that veteran teachers might be able to take to substitute for the student teaching requirement. Roach said that when discussions about this course were brought to the teachers, 72 teachers showed interest in taking it. He added that most teachers who have not fulfilled their student teaching requirement are nearing retirement, and all new hires have fulfilled it. UVI is also expected to offer courses for teachers having trouble passing the Praxis I test.
In 2002 only 14 percent of V.I. teachers were certified. Roach said there is a certain amount of flux in the percentage of certified teachers. He said V.I. teachers getting certified found they were "more employable" and sometimes left for other jobs.
"The bottom line is that we have 100 percent of our teachers certified by 2007," Richards said.
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