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UPDATE: BYU-Idaho addresses concerns about education program

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Editor’s note: This story was originally posted Wednesday. It has now been updated with details from the university about what the issue means for current students.

REXBUG — Some teacher candidates at Brigham Young University-Idaho will need to take additional coursework after state officials determined some of the university’s middle school endorsement coursework for elementary teacher candidates falls short of state requirements.

In October, a 12-member state review team evaluated BYU-Idaho’s educator preparation program. Officials examined approximately 10 percent of the university’s institutional recommendation forms from 2015 to 2018. The forms are designed to verify that candidates have met state certification requirements. A draft report resulting from the October review shows that BYU-Idaho’s reviewed institutional recommendations did not meet state rule requirements for subject-area endorsements for grades 5-9 for at least one of the following reasons:

  • Insufficient minimum credit requirements.
  • Insufficient content.
  • A math endorsement lacking appropriate subject-area assessment and content.
  • Earth and space science and natural science courses that lacked a secondary science methods requirement.

BYU-Idaho, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and located some 30 miles north of Idaho Falls, in Rexburg, is a major supplier to Idaho’s teacher pipeline. The university’s teacher prep program graduated 384 students in  2017, according to the Federal Title II report numbers. By comparison, all other teacher prep programs in Idaho saw 545 graduates that same year.

In an email obtained by Idaho Education News, BYU-Idaho Teacher Education Department Chair Karla LaOrange informed students of the state’s findings. While LaOrange assured students that “a team of faculty members, deans, and vice-presidents are working in (their) behalf,” she did not include specifics about addressing the issue, or if students will have to repeat coursework.

“Since we have been informed of this issue, BYU-Idaho has been working closely with the state to rectify the situation and allow you to obtain a teaching certificate,” LaOrange told students.

Idaho Education News requested more information from the university, including what the issue means for current students. BYU-Idaho spokesman Brett Crandall declined to comment.

On Wednesday, after Ed News reported the requirement shortfall, BYU-Idaho Associate Academic Vice President for Curriculum Van D. Christman clarified the issue in an email to faculty members.

“The state identified a serious problem for current (elementary education) students associated with the middle school endorsement that all these students are required to obtain at the same time they get their (elementary education) endorsement,” Christman said.

Christman echoed LaOrange’s assurance that the university began addressing the issue after learning about it from the state. Christman added that “the state is allowing any students who graduate (everything completed, including student teaching and Praxis tests) by spring 2019 to be able to be certified in both (elementary education) and their endorsement area.”

Any students who graduate after spring 2019 will need to meet full state requirements. Christman said this can be done in one of two ways:

  • Taking additional coursework as identified by the departments to meet the requirements. That coursework has been communicated to all elementary education students, Christman said.
  • Changing to the 2019 (updated) catalog and meet all the requirements for that catalog year. Christman suggested that students choosing this option should contact faculty members in the science and geology departments, since the science area may not have a minor available to students until the 2020 catalog.

The State Department of Education’s chief certification officer, Lisa Colón Durham, a state observer of the October program review, acknowledged that the school’s program needs to address the problem.

“We’ve identified where the holes are,” Colón Durham said. “How they are going to fix this is up to them.”

This story was originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org.

Email to faculty

The following email was sent to BYU-Idaho faculty from Associate Academic Vice President for Curriculum Van D. Christman on Wednesday afternoon.

Over the course of the past few weeks, a lot of questions have been raised about the education programs at BYU-Idaho. The attached document addresses one issue that several students have been frustrated about and have asked questions about. We are late in getting this to you, but hope you might find it helpful. If you do not work with Elementary Education students in any of your classes and do not feel you need to know about this, feel free to disregard this email.

The attachment deals specifically with the issue surrounding the current students in the Elementary Education program and what has happened over the last two months. We hope this proves helpful as you interact with students who are concerned or frustrated.

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