Iowa Governor temporarily suspends minimum student teaching hours needed for initial licensing

By: CHASE GUERDET (LCTV)

By now it’s obvious that COVID-19 has challenged each facet of our everyday lives. As schools closed down, some have made the online transition, while others may not have been able to. Some classes, like Practicum courses, are more difficult to adjust to an online setting, and student teaching is no exception. When students are required to have practical hands-on experience for licensing, how do they proceed in a time of social distancing?

Dr. David Salyer (Photo Courtesy Loras College)

Dr. David Salyer, Associate Professor of Education at Loras College, gave some insight into how this situation affects student teachers. He stated that “Iowa State code requires the 14 weeks of student teaching to be consecutive. The Teacher Education Program requires a longer student teaching experience than the minimum number of weeks specified in the rule. In the case of spring 2020, the student teaching experience was scheduled for 18 weeks.”

This plan, however, was cut short when schools were forced to close down, not giving students enough time in schools to reach standard requirements. The cutoff for Loras student teachers was on March 13th, leaving them at the exact halfway mark through the program.

Although student-teachers working in Iowa and Illinois schools are now done for the remainder of the academic year, student-teachers working within Wisconsin schools will continue online until May 15th. So how do student-teachers in Iowa proceed? Will they need to make up the lost time? Salyer stated that Governor Reynolds suspended the 14-week requirement for students, “[The suspension]…allows the programs in Iowa to use existing data, considered holistically, to determine if each individual candidate is ready to be recommended for a license.” They utilize data from midterm evaluations to determine their preparedness and use a Pass/Fail system for grading.

Max Bliese (Photo Courtesy Loras College)

This loss in time leaves some students, like Max Bliese, somewhat concerned about their readiness, “…experience is absolutely crucial. I’m applying for jobs now and I almost feel hesitant because I’ve only had 9 weeks of actually being in front of a classroom teaching every day.”

However, Salyer provides a reassuring confidence saying,

“…we are confident they will present themselves well to prospective employers.”

He continued, “as new teachers, they will receive and benefit from ongoing district mentoring and professional development programs. So their education in the profession will continue”.

For more information on COVID-19 in Iowa, visit cornoavirus.iowa.gov

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