Educator Preparation in Vermont

Teaching, Leading, and Learning in VT's Approved Programs

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High School Student writes letter to Governor Shumlin regarding teacher preparation in Vermont

Our office received a letter from a high school freshman spurred by her research project on school violence. As former teachers, we were most happy to see a student inspired to take further action on a real-world issue. In my response to this student about the ways many of your programs and our state regulations do prepare teachers for these events, I promised that I would forward their letter on to program directors in Vermont to spread this student’s message. Due to their age, the identity of this student will remain anonymous, but please send me any additional responses or commentary to be forwarded to them at

Dear Governor Shumlin,

I am a freshman at Hartford High School, currently enrolled in the Global Issues class. In replacement of a final, we have been asked to complete a project on a topic of our choice. For my project, I have decided to research school shootings and their effects throughout the U.S. My research consisted of multiple school shootings, dating back tot he very first shooting in 1764. Since that time, there have been over 500 accounts of school shootings in the United States alone, ranging from kindergarten through college.

During my research, I found that there are many things that we can do to help prevent school shootings. We can arm schools, improve security, decrease the violence in media, or not even mention the shooter at all, just the shooter’s family and victims. These are all valid options, but there is one thing that we are missing. Almost every shooter, school and otherwise, is found to have had either an emotional or mental illness that is unknown or untreated. So it seems to me that the simplest solution would be to decrease our rate of the undiagnosed mentally ill.

These citizens and students are, for the most part, not being treated for their illness. Most don’t even know that they have an illness! But other people might. The United States Secret Service states that “almost every attacker had engaged in behavior before the shooting that seriously concerned at least one adult – and for many had concerned three or more different adults.” So why didn’t these adults say something?

In an article entitled “Address Mental Health to Prevent School Violence”, author Cynthia Canton mentions this issue. She says many teachers don’t have the proper knowledge to notice the signs of mental or emotional illness, or help the situation. She says that “although it is true that teachers are there to teach, not to play the role of mental health personnel, it is important to consider the significant amount of time that children spend with these faculty at school.” Some of these students spend more time with their teachers than with their parents. This means that teachers have the best opportunity of noticing the first signs of a mental disorder or illness, and to prevent a possible future conflict.

I propose that, in order to become a teacher, adults need to be trained in the basics of mental illness, how to tell the signs of a student or staff member with a possible mental or emotional illness, and what to do when these signs have been identified. Thus the purpose of this letter is to ask for your support in requiring that higher education makes mandatory a course in diagnosing mental illness.

If you deem this suggestion as a possible solution, I am in hopes that you will continue this discussion with the [Department of Health and Human Services] and the Agency of Education. Perhaps if they work together, they might come up with a viable solution to put an end to school shootings.


VT High School Student

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Proposed Federal Regulations: Teacher Preparation Issues

On December 3, 2015, the Department of Education released proposed regulations regarding teacher preparation programs. The summary of the proposal from the DOE reads as follows:

The Secretary proposes new regulations to implement requirements for the teacher preparation program accountability system under title II of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), that would result in the development and distribution of more meaningful data on teacher preparation program quality (title II reporting system). The Secretary also proposes to amend the regulations governing the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program under title IV of the HEA so as to condition TEACH Grant program funding on teacher preparation program quality and to update, clarify, and improve the current regulations and align them with title II reporting system data.

The Vermont Standards Board of Professional Educators has submitted a comment in response to this issue. Find our comment here on the website. Comments will continue to be accepted through February 2, 2015.

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Proposed ROPA fees – FAQ

Institutions received a heads-up this week regarding proposed fees for the ROPA program. If you missed that email and would like more information, please read the ROPA fees program notification. Following that notification, several programs had the same questions, so I wanted to post a quick FAQ for everyone. If you have additional questions or comments about the proposal, please continue to send them my way.

When would this change occur? If approved, this change would take effect in July 2015. Any programs scheduled for review prior to that date would not be impacted.

What is not “covered” by the new fees? As in the past, institutions will still be responsible for lodging and meals for members of the Review Team. The Agency of Education will continue to cover the cost of transportation, lodging and meals for AOE representatives, and the cost of team member stipends and substitute teacher costs.

Would the Middle Grades endorsement count as one or four programs? If the institution already offers the secondary program for those content areas (English, science, etc.) the Middle Grades endorsement will only be counted as one program. In the event that additional team members needed to attend to review subject-specific content, it is possible that it may  be counted as an independent program.

What happens if we choose to use CAEP? The VSBPE has a policy on the substitution of national accreditation (when available) in lieu of the ROPA process. Policy N17 reads:

The Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators (VSBPE) will consider accepting national accreditation as a substitute for a Results Oriented Program Approval (ROPA) review at the formal request of an institution or alternate route made two years in advance of a program’s regularly scheduled review.

Approval of educator preparation programs of an institution or alternate route is contingent upon submission of the national accrediting body’s report to the Agency of Education, and an on-site review conducted by the VSBPE, or its designee, of Level 1 Licensure portfolios, where appropriate. Additionally institutions and alternate route programs must document their meeting of Regulations Governing the Licensing of Educators and the Preparation of Educational Professionals by successfully completing a regulation check with an Agency of Education representative.

The font on that hyperlink in the notification letter is too small! Do you have it documented somewhere else?

Yes! Here’s the document: ROPA proposed fees

Keep the questions coming to

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Seeking feedback on the ROPA rejoinder and five-year plan

Some folks have already received this request via email, and the responses we have received so far have been so helpful that we want to solicit even more. If you have been involved in a ROPA visit in the past, please take a few moments to respond to the questions below.

As we head into our new round of ROPA visits for this pilot year, we have found that some confusion exists both within our office and at institutions regarding the purpose of the ROPA rejoinder and five-year plan. As we looked through your past submissions, we have found very different documents submitted that serve varied purposes, and some institutions chose not to submit them at all. To jog your memory, the rejoinder was the document that you (could have) submitted in response to your review team’s findings. This was not the same as “factual corrections”.

If you wouldn’t mind, we have a few questions below that would help us a great deal in our work to streamline the ROPA process. Responses can be emailed to

  • What do you (or your institution) see as the purpose of the ROPA rejoinder?
  • Do you feel that the rejoinder relates to the five-year plan? If so, how? If not, why?
  • Do you find the rejoinder and/or five-year plan to be helpful or useful in the ROPA process? You are welcome to suggest changes or specify things that work well about it.

Thanks for your help – we appreciate it and look forward to working more closely with all of you over the next few years.

Shannon and Nancy


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Changes in the world of Praxis

There have been some important changes to the Vermont Praxis requirements lately:

As of August 31st, the Vermont AOE can no longer accept SAT or ACT scores in lieu of Praxis scores if the SAT/ACT was taken after September 1st 2014. If the SAT/ACT tests were taken prior to August 31, 2014, they can be used in lieu of Praxis I requirements. At this time, all applicants for licensure must take the three Core Academic Skills tests. Exemptions from this requirement are

  • candidates who qualify for a level II license and have at least three years of employment experience within the past seven years as a licensed educator in the endorsement area being sought
  • candidates who otherwise qualify for licensure or endorsement and who have achieved National Board Certification in the comparable endorsement area.

It is possible that these requirements will change in the future, but we do not have any timeline for when SAT or ACT scores will be accepted again. If you have questions regarding this change, please contact Sue Yesalonia at


In addition, ETS has announced additional testing windows effective immediately:

“We are pleased to announce that the Praxis Program will now be administering the Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects assessment (both the 5001 and 5031 series of subtests) in the December, 2014 window (December 8 – December 20) as well as the August, 2015 window.  With the addition of these two months, this assessment is now administered in every monthly testing window throughout the year. The assessments have been loaded into our registration system and candidates can now register for these tests in the December window immediately.”

Please don’t hesitate to contact the educator preparation office with questions about any of the info above at (802) 479-1714.

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The Cost of ROPA

We are working here in the AOE to evaluate the cost of a ROPA visit from our end, which leads us to the question… what does the ROPA process cost your program? Please let us know as much detail as you can; a general budget number is fine, but if you have detailed breakdowns, we’re happy to have them! All responses can be emailed to

Thanks for your help!




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