The House Education Policy and Finance Committees met last week as a part of a joint hearing to receive an update from the Minnesota Board of Teaching on a series of proposed rule changes stemming from a Ramsey County court order and pressure to act on recently enacted legislation.
The Ramsey County court ruled last month that the BOT was in direct violation of state law with its decision to shut down the licensure by portfolio process four years ago. The judge ordered an immediate reinstatement of that process.
The BOT is also reacting to new legislation to create a streamlined process for handling out of state license applicants and has issued a proposed rule to handle this process.
Proposed Rule Changes
Advocates for the teacher plaintiffs in the case against the BOT said the proposed rules represent progress, but contain some technical issues that could cause candidates to get hung up on in the application process, specifically whether or not those candidates have a summative evaluation from a different state that they can demonstrate on their application.
Not all states require summative evaluations. These are some of the details MREA and many others are tracking in this rule-making process that will unfold over the next few months.
Portfolio License Response
Nels Onstad, a former principal at West Central Area Schools, has taken the position at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) as Director of Personnel Licensing. He testified last week that already more than 200 teachers have submitted applications and the number is growing each day.
The largest area of interest in these licenses is in Career & Technical Education. The second largest area of applicants is in special education.
Onstad said it typically takes the state 90 days to process a portfolio application for a license.
The MDE hires contractors to review portfolio license applications and Onstad said they would likely need 20 or so contractors to handle the current influx of applicants.
Licensing by portfolio allows teachers to prove their qualifications by providing examples of education and work experience. A portfolio license can be for new licensure candidates or for current teachers wishing to expand their license.
BOT Auditor Report
The Office of Legislative Auditor on March 4 will release a report on the BOT and MDE licensure process. OLA reports usually contain a series of critiques and recommendations for change.
Under current law, the BOT determines what qualifications teacher candidates need to receive a license and then applications are processed by MDE.
These are the issues the OLA has been investigating and will report on:
- To what extent do the Board of Teaching and the Minnesota Department of Education manage licensing, licensure appeals, and special permission requests in a transparent and consistent manner?
- What have been the results of legislative changes regarding teacher licensure, and what progress have the Board of Teaching and Minnesota Department of Education made in implementing these changes?
- To what extent do the Board of Teaching’s activities overlap with those of the Minnesota Department of Education, and how do they coordinate efforts?
Licensing regulations and processes are one of many aspects related to teacher recruitment and retention. You can read more on MREA’s positions regarding teacher recruitment and retention: