In our review, this fall, of state policy relative to post-secondary literacy, we found the following policy and vision statements that Nicole Green and I wanted to share with the group.
Changes to State English Language Arts Teacher Certification:
Of particular interest to English Teacher Educators, as of September 1, 2015 applicants for secondary ELA certification will be newly required to take the Praxis II: for English Language Arts: Content and Analysis (5039). Though not yet fully decided, it is suggested that applicants will be required to earn a score 168 or better in order to be certified. While Nebraska has long required candidates to the state’s teacher education programs to take the PPST exam, the addition of the Praxis II marks a significant change in teacher certification requirements (particularly as Nebraska has long been one of the few states not to require the test) and may be linked to the state’s new Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow initiative. For more, see: http://www.education.ne.gov/aquestt/
LB 1103 and Vision for Education in Nebraska:
On April 2, 2014 Governor Heineman approved the Education Committee’s proposed LB 1103 (http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/Current/PDF/Final/LB1103.pdf) which provides for a strategic planning process for education state-wide. The bill now charges the Education Committee of the state’s legislature with conducting a “strategic planning process to create [a] statewide vision for education in Nebraska”—a plan which will include “aspirational goals, visionary objectives, meaningful priorities, and practical strategies.” Endorsed by the CCPE, at the moment this plan for developing a Vision for Education in Nebraska (http://news.legislature.ne.gov/edu/2014/09/10/vision-for-education-in-nebraska-public-hearings/) includes loose provisions for such policies as those which would provide pre-kindergarten education for every child in the state; increase the percentage of students who meet the tested standards in reading, writing, and math; provide an opportunity for all public high school students to take the most commonly used college entrance exam in the state; increase the number of high school graduates who pursue postsecondary degrees; and support continuing education for teachers, instructors, and professors. Despite claims the strategic plan is intended to include perspectives from the many stakeholders within the state at large, thus far, it has included only three, not well-publicized, public hearings (as required by the law) which occurred within a short 10-day period and took place only in Omaha, North Platte, and Broken Bow.
Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow (A QUESTT):
Continuing to resist the national move toward the Common Core State Standards, in September 2014, the State Board of Education approved the new PK-12 English Language Arts Standards (http://www.education.ne.gov/read/ ) with support from representatives from Nebraska’s postsecondary institutions (referred to as the “Joint Understanding”). The new standards are hoped to improve students’ college- and career-readiness in “reading, writing, speaking/listening, and multiple literacies.” The goal of this Joint Understanding is that these standards will help prepare Nebraska students more fully for successful participation in postsecondary courses without the need for remediation.