New elementary education certification gives job seekers an edge
BINGHAMTON, NY – A revised elementary education certification program being implemented in the School of Education will give Binghamton University graduates the upper hand when searching for a job.
This fall, the school expanded its current program, which certifies students to teach grades 1-6, to include training for preschool and kindergarten environments. It will offer students the opportunity to choose a special education or literacy education pathway.
Graduates of the first pathway will be eligible for four certifications, allowing them to instruct regular and special education students up to the sixth grade; students who choose the second path will be eligible for early childhood, childhood and literacy education certifications.
“They’re going to be well prepared to teach any kind of student that comes into their classrooms,” said S.G. Grant, dean of the School of Education.
Students begin the two-year certification program with a full year of coursework, where they spend one day per week doing elementary teaching at local school districts. In the summer, they are required to spend three weeks observing and teaching in a local preschool setting and are expected to take additional courses. This year, in an effort to address the needs of the revised certification program, Binghamton added two new classes to the summer session line-up by offering classes in literacy and language for young children, and curriculum development.
Students resume teaching duties again in the fall semester by instructing full time at a local elementary school, and complete their training in the spring semester by teaching at the same level, but with a concentration in special education or literacy.
“It’s where they get to reinforce the connection between theory and practice,” said Jenny Gordon, coordinator of the program. “The students can try out things they’ve learned in our classrooms here on campus.”
Gordon said elements of teaching early childhood students were added to each course currently being offered, rather than creating a new section of the training.
“We really reconceptualized the whole program from start to finish,” she added.
Grant said the plans to revise the program came as a response to feedback from administrators in local school districts looking for flexibility in hiring teachers.
In January 2010, he and a group of faculty submitted the proposal for a redesigned program to SUNY and the New York State Education Department. The revised program was formally approved in April.
“It’s the first program we know of that combines this array of certifications,” Grant said. The superintendents and principals are just thrilled with this.”
According to Grant, applications for the revised program have already increased, and all credits earned by students in the current program will carry over into the next school year.
Gordon believes the additional certifications graduates will receive will give them a competitive advantage in the job market. Previously, graduates could only earn up to two certifications to teach regular and childhood students from grades 1-6.
“The early childhood component and that certification will give our students enormous marketability and flexibility,” she said.
Gordon also believes that lessons taught at the early childhood ages can be recognized when teaching at higher levels.
"I think it’s going to give our students an understanding of how children develop from the very beginning,” Gordon said. “So no matter if they’re teaching fourth grade or preschool they’ll have that sense of continuum that I think will be very important for them to know about.”