Education majors have the unique task of taking tests to receive licensure in the state they want to teach.
For those students who want to teach in Wisconsin and attend UW-River Falls that is not an issue.
However, students who want to teach 20 minutes away from River Falls in Stillwater, Minn., have to be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Education, meaning the licensure they received at UWRF is not valid.
Larry Solberg, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, said that while their licensure may not be valid, their education received at UWRF “is transferable in terms of the preparation programs.”
To be able to apply for licensure, the person applying would need to take the tests that Minnesota requires first and do well on those.
Then, applying for licensure is a process that can be started over the Internet through their online licensing system, although there is an additional cost to get a Minnesota licensure.
“If it’s basically the same thing, I don’t have a problem with passing them, it’s just going to be paying for them and coming up with the money upfront,” said Kelsey Simanski, a senior agricultural education major.
“I am required to be licensed in Wisconsin to graduate here, and now because Minnesota just changed all their rules and regulations with licenses, I have to retake all of the tests in a different format for Minnesota. So, it’s another couple extra hundred dollars, which is unfortunate, but I don’t really have a choice if I want to teach in Minnesota,” said Simanski.
With this additional process, it would make sense to, perhaps, just get licensed in Minnesota originally to spare the extra details.
While getting a licensure is necessary to teach, Solberg said UWRF is a logical option for Minnesota students.
“I think that we are a public option in terms of a university for people who live in the metro area of Minnesota and all the suburbs. So plus, we have a long history as an educational institution that prepares teachers. Going back to when we began as an institution in 1874 we began as a normal school preparing teachers so we have that long tradition,” said Solberg.
Solberg said that UWRF was unique in the fact that graduates had a year of practice time to support them in their job search and the early childhood education graduates had even more opportunities to gain that experience.
“As an institution and as an education preparation program, that we here at UW-River Falls provide really is an outstanding opportunity for future teachers to teach here in Wisconsin, Minnesota or where ever they choose to go,” said Solberg.
The reputation of the UWRF education department was one of the reasons that education major Katie Plante wanted to go to school here instead of a different college, even though she plans on teaching in Minnesota after gradation.
“Yeah, it will probably be a little bit of an issue [to teach in Minnesota] but its something that I’m willing to work through to teach there,” said Plante.
It has been 137 years since UWRF was opened as a normal school and there have been many changes in education and at UWRF since that opening date.
Solberg said the state testing requirements are a part of this change.
“Students go through here and take the Praxis exams here in Wisconsin and then if they’re seeking licensure in Minnesota need to take the Minnesota exams. So it does result in some additional costs for students to take those exams,” said Solberg. “One of the things that is changing and will be required in the future for all teacher education students graduation and that is to have taken and passed a teacher performance assessment. That is a national exam that is being developed at Stanford University.”
That will be effective Sept. 1, 2015, so most of the education majors that are currently enrolled will most likely not have to take this test to fill the requirements that Solberg described.