Illinois Alternative Certification Programs
Northern Illinois University
Contact info for NIU's Alternative Certification Plan:
NIU LAUNCHES ALTERNATIVE TEACHER CERTIFICATION PROGRAM
DE KALB - Northern Illinois University is responding to the needs of area school districts experiencing teacher shortages through a new alternative route to teacher certification approved by the Illinois State Board of Education.
The problem is deep, growing and widespread: Across the country, an estimated 2.2 million teachers will need to be hired in the next 10 years to accommodate rising U.S. population and the expected retirement of 700,000 veteran teachers.
To help schools and children nearby, faculty representing NIU's four colleges offering teacher certification developed this alternative plan to guarantee quality preparation for non-traditional candidates.
pplications are being accepted this fall in selected programs that prepare candidates in areas identified by partner school districts.
Candidates need appropriate bachelor's degrees and a minimum of five years appropriate degree-related experience.
Intensive coursework scheduled for evenings and weekends will begin with the 2002 spring term and continue through August. Candidates then will be place in regular classrooms as interns for one year with full district benefits. Each candidate will be supported by a district mentor and an NIU supervisor. Successful candidates will be recommended by NIU to the Illinois State Board of Education for initial certificates.
Prospective candidates must apply to NIU's Alternative Certification
program as students at large. They complete a criminal background check and
undergo an academic profile test and a writing sample test. They also must
talk with NIU officials about their work experience with children and in
what capacity they gained that experience.
"They have to have the content knowledge. They can't just decide they want to be a teacher for something they have no knowledge of," said Jeanne Okrasinski, alternative certification coordinator. "We also would like them to have some experience with children."
In January, they begin a rigorous eight months of night and weekend classes as well as clinical experience in the classroom to learn the methodology of teaching. When the new school year begins that fall, each candidate is actually teaching - and working with an NIU supervisor and a district mentor.
Transition between current employment and the classroom will be as seamless as possible.
Okrasinski said several people - a good number even holding master's degrees - already have called her office to inquire about the program. Calls are coming from Rock Falls to Chicago and everywhere in between, she said.
"All sorts of people are calling," she said. "Individuals who are taking early retirement from big corporations. Other individuals who are coming to us saying they have been working with children now in other ways besides teaching but have realized they really like working with students and would now like to come back and become a teacher."
Okrasinski is confident the innovative approach will provide a successful route to preparing non-traditional candidates to meet the needs of the diverse students in the region.
"Because it's new and different, there always is going to be the question of whether it will work. Once the individuals get out into the teaching force, that question will not be asked," she said. "They are still going to get that methodology. They're still going to learn the different ways of teaching. We will prove this is a viable thing we should be doing."
NIU received approval of the Illinois State Board of Education this spring to offer the Alternative Certification curriculum, and is one of only 12 institutions in the state approved to offer such a program. None offers the same variety of classes, Okrasinski said.
More information is available at (815) 753-5051 or via the Internet at www.niu.edu/teachers. Click on "Alternative Certification."
Step 2. If accepted, the student enters Phase I course work, in the spring. This is called "Conditional Admission" to the NIU Alternative Certification Program. The Phase I course work involves the Introductory professional education sequence of EPS 406, ETR 440,and Content Clinical Placement
Step 3. The student must then provide proof of freedom from the communicable disease tuberculosis, acquire an Illinois Provisional Teaching Certificate, proof of passing the Illinois subject matter content test, and proof of a contractual agreement with a school district for the internship.
Step 4. Entering phase II of the course work, in the summer, is considered the official admission to the NIU Alternative Certification Program. The content area which must be completed in the summer, which lead to the granting of the Provisional Teaching Certificate, are EPF 400, TEDU 457, and a methods course in the student's content area.
Step 5. In the fall and spring, Phase III of the internship begins, which is the year-long internship with an NIU supervisor and a mentor from the employing school district. Also taken at this time are seminars in reading, technology, methods and pedagogy.
Step 6. The final step in the program, taking place in the late spring, is the Phase IV, post-internship phase, which involves assessment of the candidate and his/her mentor(s), and any post-internship seminars.
Questions on the above information can be directed to:
Jeanne Okrasinski, Alternative Certification Coordinator
Please Note: The deadline has past for applications for the Spring 2002 term....
Potential candidates should contact the
program adviser for program availability. Advisers are listed and
available through e-mail in the Certification
Programs section of the NIU web site.
Questions and Answers
1. Admission Requirements.
Bachelor's degree and worked in an appropriate degree-related field for at least five years. Successful completion of an Academic Profile Test and a Writing Sample administered by Educational Testing Service. As well as successful completion of a criminal background check. Candidates are interviewed by the appropriate certification program coordinator at NIU.
2. Deadline for application.
October 31, 2001, however that will change with all subsequent years to be September 30th. Our next application process will begin in August of 2002 for a start date of Spring 2003.
3. Coursework requirements. A timeframe for completion of the program.
Our programs run on a yearly basis, always beginning in spring so that we hold coursework in the spring and summer semesters (7 months). We attempt to complete coursework the last week of July so that the candidates may have a two week break between classes and reporting to the school district. Classes are scheduled at night and on weekends.
4. Placement services for internship year? Salary?
5. What subject areas do you offer certification in?
6. Do you have information about your program on your web site? What is the URL?
http://www.niu.edu/teachers/ Then select "Alternative Certification"
7. Is there virtual or remote classwork available? (Distance learning).
8. Tuition cost.
9. Does the coursework lead to a Masters degree? Can it?
At the conclusion of their internship year, candidates prepare a portfolio for review, to demonstrate how they meet or exceed the competencies. Portfolios may be web-based or hard copy.
The future teachers must also undergo a final evaluation by the certification program coordinator and the cooperating school district, involving personal interviews and presentation of their professional portfolio of activities. Upon successful completion of this process, NIU recommends them for four year initial teaching certificates.
Information supplied by:
Jeanne Okrasinski, University ACP Coordinator
Additional information obtained from the Northwest Herald, October 23, 2001, "NIU program targets problem" and the NIU website "http://www.niu.edu/teachers/".