Changes to a teaching certification program in the College of Education will give students more flexibility as they enter the workforce, an associate professor in the program said.
With the new EC-6 program, certified students will be qualified to teach grade levels from early childhood to sixth grade, rather than through only the fourth grade with the former EC-4 program. The program will take effect this fall for juniors majoring in early childhood education.
The change comes after State Board for Educator Certification revised standards in an effort to more easily assign teachers to upper elementary grades.
Jan Lacina , associate professor in the College of Education and coordinator of the EC-4 program , said the department has been expecting the change because more and more elementary schools are wanting teachers certified for a variety of levels.
“Personnel directors are having a hard time filling vacancies for upper elementary schools,” Lacina said. “There is typically a shortage of teachers for the fifth and sixth grades.”
Janice Lopez , manager of educator standards for the State Board for Educator Certification , said there is a need for teachers in these specific grade levels because teachers who are certified to teach grades four through eight often work with middle school classes only.
“Seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms are not self-contained, so teachers can pick one subject to teach rather than be a generalist,” Lopez said.
A generalist is an elementary school teacher with general knowledge on several school subjects rather than a particular subject, she said.
The new standards consolidate all the elementary school levels into one teaching program, Lopez said.
Teachers, superintendents, deans and college professors all took part in the decision, and there has been positive feedback from both elementary schools and universities, she said.
Lacina said she thinks students will support the new program because it gives them more options when they begin their teaching careers.
Tracie Chambers, a middle school English/language arts major, agreed.
“I think it was a wise decision on TCU’s part to make the change from EC-4 to EC-6.” Chambers said. “It allows the EC-4 majors to become more marketable by being qualified to teach two additional grades, and it gives them a little more edge.”
Carter Goree, an early childhood education major, said she thinks the new program will be more challenging because it will be difficult to know all the content included in the early childhood level to the sixth grade.
“It’s a big jump to try to have to prepare students for, although it will allow them a lot more opportunities being certified for two more grades,” Goree said.
Several classes in the former EC-4 program are being revised, and new math and science classes are being installed specifically for upper elementary school teaching. These classes will prepare students for the EC-6 certification and provide them with a strong background of content knowledge, Lacina said
None of these revisions will cost the students the possibility of not graduating on time, Lacina said.