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In fall 2017, Delaware Governor John Carney signed three House Bills aimed at improving K-12 education in Delaware. Faculty and staff from UD’s School of Education, the Alternative Routes to Certification (ARTC), the College of Engineering’s department of computer science and the Delaware Center for Teacher Education were in attendance in support of these initiatives.

House Bill 143 and House Bill 193, sponsored by Representative Kim Williams, provide flexibility in the timeline for fulfilling requirements for beginning teachers, making it easier for Delaware schools to ensure staffing and recruitment of teachers from surrounding states while maintaining high expectations for novice teacher competencies. Special provisions were included so that Delaware-state prepared teachers were not disadvantaged by the new legislation.

House Bill 143 reestablishes the three-tiered licensing system; provides two years for the initial licensee to obtain a passing score on an approved performance assessment (edTPA or PPAT); and allows some performance assessments from other jurisdictions to be used to meet Delaware’s performance assessment mandate. It also provides an opportunity for Delaware-prepared candidates to be partially reimbursed for the cost of the test.

For over 20 years, UD’s ARTC program has offered qualified individuals the opportunity to complete teaching certification requirements while they are employed as full-time teachers, through a state-approved program.

At the bill signing, Rob Grey, ARTC Program Manager, stated, “Thanks to HS 1 for HB 143, dozens of otherwise highly qualified teaching candidates have entered the pool of new teachers in DE public schools — candidates who had been eliminated from consideration in past years because of the inability to pass a test that had little to do with the discipline they were qualified to teach.  Because of that, we have experienced a dramatic surge in eligible alternate routes candidates, which gives our schools a wider selection from which to choose qualified teachers.

The second new law, House Bill 193, revises a training requirement for those seeking to become teachers but who started their careers in fields other than education. It requires a teacher candidate to fulfill a 120-hour seminar/practicum prior to teaching in a classroom but allows those hired after July to complete those hours before the beginning of the next school year. This legislation is a result of a partnership between schools, legislators, the Delaware Department of Education, and teacher preparation representatives, including UD faculty and lobbyists.

ARTC students gain professional education through rigorous course work, accompanied by intensive, school-based supervision and mentoring. Because of HB 193, first-year teachers will be able to learn more of the critical teaching skills required to pass the performance assessment.

The third legislation signed by Governor Carney promotes computer science in Delaware classrooms.

House Bill 15 was signed on Sept. 22 in the Governor’s Office in the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington. This law requires that all public high schools in Delaware, including charter schools, offer at least one computer science course at the high school level by the 2020-2021 school year. By the 2018-2019 school year, students will be able to take a computer science course to satisfy a year of the total credit requirement in mathematics, with the exception of Algebra I, Geometry, or Algebra II or the equivalent courses.

Lori Pollock, Alumni Distinguished Professor in Computer and Information Sciences, and Chrystalla Mouza, a professor of instructional technology and interim director of the School of Education at the University of Delaware, witnessed the signing.

Although Pollock and Mouza weren’t directly involved with the bill, they have been working with Delaware’s Department of Education since 2012 to increase access to computer science classes.

As schools look to add computer science courses, teachers may need training to prepare for the new offerings. There is no certification for computer science teachers, so often the courses are taught by math, business, technology or science teachers who have an interest in computing.

Mouza and Pollock are co-principal investigators, along with professors Terry Harvey and James Atlas, on a four-year $853,000 grant and a three-year $997,348 grant that focus on computer-science-related professional development for teachers.