Grade-level flexibility

Grade-level flexibility

Crittenden County superintendent:
More grade-level flexibility in teaching would help
Kentucky School Advocate
September 2016
By Matt McCarty
Staff writer
The last time Crittenden County had an opening for a high school math teacher, the only applicants were middle school certified for grades five through nine.

The high school currently has four math teachers. Two are certified for high school and two for middle school. One of the two middle school teachers was emergency certified so she can teach any high school grade level until she passes her Praxis – tests that are required for teacher certification – but the other can teach only freshmen.

It’s that situation that has Crittenden County Superintendent Vince Clark asking for flexibility with what grade levels teachers can teach.

“They don’t have to open the barn door but let it loose a little bit,” Clark said.

Clark said a middle school math teacher is certified to teach algebra I, algebra II, geometry, trigonometry and even calculus to freshmen, but cannot teach any of those subjects to sophomores, juniors or seniors.

“My argument is if you can teach systems of equations to a freshman, why can’t you teach it to a junior?” Clark said. “Even if the Kentucky Department of Education and EPSB would say ‘Look, we’re going to let your five through nine certified folks teach algebra I, algebra II and geometry to all high school students, that would give us a little more leverage.”

Currently, if a middle school-certified teacher wants to extend certification to the high school level, Clark said it’s a two-step process. First, the teacher has to pass the Praxis to demonstrate content knowledge and then must to either take additional college classes in the subject area or do a certain number of days of professional development.

But, Clark asks, what is the incentive for someone to do that?

“Folks say, ‘Well, I’m really not going to get a pay raise by doing this but if I spend the same amount of time getting a master’s degree or a Rank I, then I would get a pay raise. So what is the incentive?’ There’s really not one unless the school district said ‘Well, we would give you a bonus’ and I don’t know any school districts that do that,” Clark said.

Clark said his district will pay for the teachers to take the Praxis if they pass it.

Jimmy Adams, executive director of the Education Professional Standards Board, said his agency is involved with a grant called CEEDAR (Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform) and he wants that group to review the EPSB’s certifications.

“We need to review that,” he said of middle school teachers being able to teach beyond the ninth-grade level. “We need to make it where the teachers we have are more versatile in what we allow them to do.”
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