Connecticut’s Increasingly Tumultuous Road to Teacher Certification

Share

TwitterFacebookCopy LinkPrintEmail

To the Editor:

The road to becoming an educator in Connecticut is not an easy one. In fact, routes to teacher certification in Connecticut are increasingly expensive and difficult. This rings true for me, even as an educator who moved to Connecticut after being certified in another state. 

The desire to teach has always been a part of who I am. When I was in middle school, I began to struggle academically, and was eventually diagnosed with a form of dyslexia. After working with an educational therapist, I came to deeply understand the value of teaching in ways that allow students with different learning styles to be successful. I continue to bring that mindset into the classroom with me every day.

Initially, I received my initial certification in Illinois while completing my BA in elementary education. I had to take multiple content area tests through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), including Elementary Teacher Education. I was very adequately prepared to become an educator. However, when I moved to Connecticut, the process became increasingly difficult. 

Upon my move to Connecticut, I took and passed the appropriate PRAXIS tests, and reached out to the state to find out what else they needed to grant my certification. Each time the state and I got in touch, I was reminded that it would be four to six weeks before I heard back from them with each next step; and, it was indeed at least a full month and a half between each of our correspondences. I was asked to send my undergraduate and graduate transcripts to the state, and once those were finally received (after an initial mistake, which meant that I had to send them a second time), I was asked to send the course descriptions for all relevant education classes. I ended up having to send the course descriptions twice as well, as they apparently were not received the first time. This meant that almost eight months had passed from when I had initially sent in my transcripts to when the state finally contacted me with concrete information about next steps to confirm my certification. 

In the meantime, I had been hired by Hartford Public Schools as a preschool teacher, pending the certification process. I was told that I needed to take four more college courses so that my certification could finally be confirmed. Finally, I was told that I would be allowed to continue teaching under a DSAP, as long as I could show that I am working towards completing the necessary courses. All of this after having already been certified for years in another state. 

I am extremely lucky to not have had any massive negative financial impacts from this process. Anecdotally, however, I know this is not the case for many of my colleagues. That being said, I am certainly frustrated that I have had to spend additional money on college courses after already completing a four year undergraduate degree and a two year masters. I feel that, having been in a classroom for almost 10 years now, my teaching style is pretty set and a few extra classes are not going to significantly impact my ability to effectively educate students.

Unfortunately, my experience is not unique. Both for teachers moving to Connecticut and for those who want to become educators, the process is significantly time consuming, expensive, and frustrating. Without implementing additional pathways such as grow your own programs where students can be introduced to the teaching profession as a viable career option at a young age; taking into account classroom experience and abilities, rather than only relying on test scores to determine who can teach; and implementing programming that makes it easier for individuals to balance a budget or their family while also studying to become an educator, we cannot expect to get more teachers or put an end to the teaching shortage. 

Students are being negatively affected by lack of staff in the classrooms, and this issue is not going away soon. We need to modify the teaching certification process in Connecticut.

Caroline Dowd

Caroline Dowd is an educator in Hartford Public Schools.