Struggles ahead for education majors

By Shannon King
November 29, 2001

Education majors are up in arms over a new rule that will prohibit them from student teaching if all of their National Teacher’s Examinations are not passed before next semester. They will be forced to become educational studies majors until they pass the required tests. Most students are angered, to say the least, but seniors seem to be the most affected by the sudden decision.

The educational studies major was added to the available majors at Cabrini after a National Report Card, issued by the federal government under Title II reporting of certification students, showed that Cabrini was in the bottom 25 percent of “producing institutions.” A poor placement on this National Report Card could result in Cabrini’s loss of ability to conduct teacher certification programs. This would come as a major blow to an institution with education as its number one major.

Cabrini received a low score on this report card because, as of a few weeks ago, there were not any programs available for students who were not interested in becoming Pennsylvania state certified. These students may be from another state and know that they are not going to teach in the state of Pennsylvania. Their certification would come from their respective states. There are also students who know that they want to do something education-related, such as music therapy or owning day care centers, but do not need a teaching certificate to complete their plans. These students may just choose to do everything else in the program including student teach.

The problem comes in when Cabrini is evaluated. “If students do everything else, including student teach, then they appear to be program completers,” said Dr. Catharine O’Connell, dean for academic affairs. A program completer is a student who completes the program approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for a teaching certificate. If students are viewed as program completers, by national standards, they should have their certificates. The students who did not complete their certification requirements because of a lack of need to do so, are looked at as students who just simply could not pass the tests. By taking student teaching out of the educational studies major, the students who either cannot pass or do not need to take the NTEs will not be evaluated as program completers and Cabrini’s listing as a “low producing institution” should be improved.

According to Dr. Dawn Middleton, education department chair, “If we let students student teach, it means that we recommend them for a teaching certificate, which we can’t do [if they do not pass the required tests.]” To assure students, Middleton said, “We aren’t going to let anyone get caught in this trap. There are internships and co-ops that we are looking into right now that can be transferred into field experience credits when the student gets back on track if they choose to do so.”

The way the situation works now, is that students have to declare a major by the end of their sophomore year. If all of their NTEs are not passed, students will be accepted into the educational studies major. When all of their tests are completed and passed, they can be accepted into the certification program, which will allow them to student teach. “The two programs are very permeable and there is no second class status associated with the new major,” O’Connell stressed.

The situation is slightly more difficult for current seniors. If seniors do not have all of their NTEs passed, but pass them by May, they will still graduate with a degree in educational studies. This is because all of their student teaching requirements have not been met. The student can do an internship in a private or parochial school, but student teaching credits will still have to be completed. These can be done during the Summer I session at Cabrini. The number of credits needed will depend on how many requirements were met during the student’s internship. Once student teaching is completed, the student’s transcript will be stamped with an approval for certification. According to Middleton, “A student who completes student teaching during the summer will probably receive his or her certificate around the same time as everyone else. Harrisburg gets so backed up that the extra time spent student teaching should not hold the student back.” This means that everyone should be ready to enter to enter the job force at the same time.

Students have opinions that run the gamut from very upset to approving, but shock is the most common feeling on campus. “It’s a little overwhelming for people. It took everyone by surprise, especially seniors who are right in the middle of their last year,” said Erin Maxwell, a senior education major.

This thought was echoed by senior Elizabeth Farrell: “Everyone is angry because they didn’t know that they had to pass the tests by a certain date and now they are being penalized because they did not know that.”

Middleton said, “No one expected there to be three changes in the standards in 12 months. It couldn’t be anticipated.” She also said that students are upset because they realized that maybe something that they decided to put on the back burner was the most important thing they had to do. “The tests have been given a number of times. If students didn’t budget their time and money, they are now in crunch mode.”

Junior Megan Gallagher said, “I think the education division here thinks that everyone knows the procedures for testing and the majority of students have no clue.” Sometimes even the things the students are told are wrong and misleading according to some angered students.

Lori Lonergan, a junior, explained a situation that happened to her. “I was told that I couldn’t take my NTEs because I didn’t have a 3.0 GPA, but I found out too late that I didn’t need a certain GPA at all. I had to take four tests in one day and I had to wait to take the fifth one. By that time field experience had already started.”

Senior Gabrielle Beltran agreed saying, “We were advised to wait to take our last NTEs as of May 2001. When we came in September we were told that we had to have them all done. There were only two testing dates in the fall. By the time some people were told of this, it was too late to register.” All of the colleges in the area including West Chester University and Ursinus College still allow student teaching when tests are not completed. “Even if I wanted to go to another school to do student teaching, I couldn’t do that because the last 30 credits have to be from Cabrini in order to graduate,” Beltran said.

Some students think that the rule should have a grandfather clause. “It’s unfair, I think. Maybe they should’ve done it to incoming freshmen and let the seniors still student teach,” said Kim Cashman, senior. The grandfather clause that is in effect is that if students took the old NTEs and passed them, they do not have to take the new tests that have been introduced.

Even though the overwhelming majority of the students feel that this is unfair, there are some people who think that it is a good idea. “I think that you should pass the NTEs before student teaching. If a person doesn’t know enough to pass the tests, then maybe they don’t know enough to student teach,” said Lisa Brogan, senior.

The educational studies major was put in place in order to try to boost the appearance of Cabrini on the National Report Card. If the school did not take a drastic step to reduce the “low producing institution” status, the certification programs could possibly be cut.

“Students are upset for an understandable reason,” O’Connell said, “but Cabrini didn’t have a choice.”
Test Dates:

January 12, 2002
March 9, 2002
April 20, 2002
June 15, 2002

for specific tests go to:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shannon King

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Special Project

Title IX Redefined Website

Produced by Cabrini Communication
Class of 2024

Listen Up

Season 2, Episode 3: Celebrating Cabrini and Digging into its Past


Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap