UPDATE on 3/11/20: The Senate voted on March 4, 2020 to pass an amended SB2511 that, in addition to the bill’s original provisions, would allow the Mississippi School of the Arts (MSA) to certify supplemental teaching endorsements as well as alter how the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) classifies the licensure class of out-of-state applicants.

Under the amended SB2511, the MSA Executive Director would be granted authority to certify the completion of required coursework for MSA teachers seeking a supplemental teaching endorsement. If an MSA teacher completes twenty-one hours of coursework “in the endorsement area or in a substantially similar area” with a grade of “C” or higher, as certified by the Executive Director, they would be awarded the supplemental teaching endorsement by MDE. Supplemental teaching endorsements, which require either passing a subject assessment or completing a given number of hours in a subject area, are currently both certified and awarded solely by MDE. 

The amended SB2511 would also grant MDE discretion in considering the “substance” of coursework taken by an out-of-state applicant in determining their licensure class. Whereas licensure class, which determines the level of pay for teachers, is strictly tied to the specific degree held by a Mississippi teacher, this amendment would allow MDE some flexibility in determining the licensure class for out-of-state applicants.  

SB2511 has now been transmitted to the House, which has also passed a similar bill with slightly different provisions.

UPDATE on 2/19/20 at 3:20 PM CST: This bill passed the Senate Education Committee with no amendments. It will now be listed on the Senate Calendar for consideration by the full Senate.

Today, the Senate Education Committee will vote on a bill designed to expand access to teacher education programs at Mississippi’s four-year colleges and universities. The bill would effectively waive the standardized test score requirements to enter all traditional and most alternate route teacher preparation programs for applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Requirements for obtaining a license following teacher preparation, including the standardized test score requirements, would remain unchanged.

§ 37-3-2 of current law stipulates the licensure qualifications and requirements for Mississippi public school teachers. It provides two pathways for admittance to traditional route teacher education programs: applicants can either

  1. score a minimum of 21 on the ACT or
  2. earn a passing score on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (CASE) exam.

Either way, applicants must additionally hold a minimum GPA of 2.75 on previous coursework. Prospective teachers typically apply to traditional teacher education programs at the end of their sophomore year or beginning of their junior year. Applicants to alternate route programs must currently meet a similar set of criteria, with the exception being that they can waive the GPA requirement with a passing score on the Praxis II exam relevant to the applicant’s subject area.

If passed, SB2511 would open an additional pathway into teacher preparation based solely on the applicant’s GPA. For all traditional and most alternate route teacher education programs, applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or higher would no longer be required to earn passing scores on the ACT or Praxis CASE in order to qualify for the program. Conversely, applicants with passing scores on the ACT or Praxis CASE would no longer be subject to GPA requirements. Importantly, the proposed amendments would also make entrance requirements for traditional and alternate route programs identical, as the Praxis II (not to be confused with the Praxis CASE) would no longer be among the potential criteria for admittance to alternate route programs.

The one exception is for applicants completing teacher preparation through the Teach Mississippi Institute, an online alternate route program available through University of Mississippi and University of Southern Mississippi. These applicants will still be required to pass the Praxis II in the subject area for which they seek endorsement in order to gain admittance to the Teach Mississippi Institute program, but they will have more flexibility for entrance if they do not have a passing score on the Praxis CASE. For these applicants, they could either seek acceptance based on a score of 21 on the ACT (or SAT equivalent) or based on a GPA of 3.0. 

Again, despite these new pathways into teacher preparation, licensure requirements will not change. Teachers will still need to pass the Praxis CASE and Praxis II in order to earn a standard, renewable license. See the exact changes below.

Amendment to § 37-3-2(6)(a)(v), Standard License–Approved Program Route 

Bill lines 149-159: Changes to the criteria for entrance into an approved (traditional) teacher education program

Current CriteriaProposed Criteria
“21 ACT equivalent” 
OR 
“Nationally recommended passing score” on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (CASE)
AND
Minimum GPA of 2.75 on pre-major coursework
“ACT score of 21 (or SAT equivalent)”
OR
“Qualifying passing score” on the Praxis CASE “as established by the State Board of Education”
OR
Minimum GPA of 3.0 on coursework prior to admission

This would have the effect of opening a third, GPA-only pathway into traditional teacher prep; the GPA-only pathway would require a higher GPA than current requirements. Requirements for licensure after traditional teacher prep would not change.

Amendments to § 37-3-2(6)(b), Standard License–Nontraditional Teaching Route

Bill lines 162-172: Changes to criteria for entrance under the alternate routes except for the Teach Mississippi Institute

Current CriteriaProposed Criteria
“21 ACT equivalent” 
OR 
“nationally recommended passing score” on the Praxis CASE


AND
Minimum GPA of 2.75 on content coursework in requested area of certification OR Praxis II scores “at or above the national recommended score”
“ACT score of 21 (or SAT equivalent)”
OR
“Qualifying passing score” on the Praxis CASE “as established by the State Board of Education”
OR
Minimum GPA of 3.0 on coursework prior to admission

This would establish a new GPA-only pathway into alternate route programs; the GPA-only pathway would require a higher GPA than current requirements. Alternate route requirements would mirror traditional route requirements exactly. Requirements for licensure after alternate route teacher prep would not change.

Bill lines 173-179: Changes to criteria for entrance to the Teach Mississippi Institute (TMI)

Current CriteriaProposed Criteria
Passing score on the Praxis CASE





AND
Passing score on the Praxis II Specialty Area Test in the requested area of endorsement
Passing score on the Praxis CASE 
OR 
“ACT score of 21 (or SAT equivalent)” 
OR 
minimum GPA of 3.0 on coursework prior to admission

AND
Passing score on the Praxis subject assessment in the requested area of endorsement

This would provide two alternatives to passing the Praxis CASE in order to gain entrance to the Teach Mississippi Institute: an ACT of 21 (or the SAT equivalent) or a minimum GPA of 3.0 on prior coursework. Requirements for licensure after the Teach Mississippi Institute would not change.

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