State Board approves UIC-Golden Apple
alternative teacher certification program

May 18, 2001

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Springfield – The Illinois State Board of Education today approved a proposed alternative certification program designed to produce more elementary teachers for Chicago public schools.

The program, created by the University of Illinois at Chicago working with the Golden Apple Foundation and Chicago Public Schools is intended to help meet a projected shortage of elementary teachers for Chicago schools. Chicago officials expect to need about 2,000 elementary teachers this school year.

The projected shortage will be exacerbated when an estimated 80 percent of Chicago’s experienced teachers become eligible for retirement over the next 10 years.

“It is important that we pursue all of our options to attract good people into the teaching profession and support them, to give our children every opportunity for success after school,” said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee. Illinois has 10 alternative certification programs in place. Five other programs have similar features but do not fall under state statutes governing such programs.

The State Teacher Certification Board recommended denying approval for the program in part because of questions about the amount of reading instruction the program would provide. UIC and Golden Apple amended the proposal to answer those concerns.

However, state law requires the State Board to approve all alternative certification programs within 30 days if they meet requirements of the law.

The program, to begin this summer, will admit up to 15 prospective teachers all with non-teaching backgrounds. State law allows colleges and universities to partner with one or more non-profit organizations that support excellence in teaching to create alternative certification programs.

The goal is to get people into the classrooms that have real-life experience. Typically teachers with alternative certification will teach in their area of expertise – a CPA, for example, would teach math.

Following a strict screening process, the prospective teachers will undergo an eight-week summer training session including coursework and intensive clinical work in Chicago elementary schools.

Candidates successfully completing the first phase of training in education theory, instructional methods and practice teaching; pass the Illinois Test of Basic Skills and the Illinois Elementary certification test; and meet performance assessment expectations will get a one-year provisional alternative teaching certificate.

Those candidates will work full time in Chicago elementary classrooms under the direct supervision of mentor teachers and supervisors from UIC, Chicago schools and Golden Apple.

Finally, candidates successfully completing the second phase, including a rigorous performance assessment, will earn standard teaching certificates and will be able to teach full time.