INDIANAPOLIS — Rep. Wendy McNamara is working to find a way for high school teachers who currently teach dual-credit courses to meet new accreditation requirements created by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent organization that accredits colleges and universities.
In February 2015, the commission created a policy that requires all adjunct professors and dual-credit teachers to have 18 hours in postgraduate credit, in addition to a master’s degree, in their specific content area by 2017.
“We currently have about 1,232 teachers that have their master’s degree in the state of Indiana, but don’t qualify for the 18 hours of grad credit,” McNamara said.
In response to the policy, House Bill 1370 would require Indiana universities to create a “teacher education plan” for high school teachers with master’s degrees teaching dual credit courses, but have not obtained the 18 postgraduate credit hours in their content area of the course.
McNamara said the bill would also allow local school corporations to partner with state institutions to either waive or provide tuition at a reduced rate for the 1,200 educators in need of the postgraduate credit hours.
“[The policy] is an economic devastator to our state, so what this bill basically does is take care of those 1,200 people,” McNamara said. “We’re trying to do what is best for our teachers in a difficult situation. Ultimately, it hurts our teachers. It hurts our students and it hurts our state.”
Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, addressed Ivy Tech’s financial concern with the policy and the bill. About 500 teachers of the 1,200 with a master’s degree teach Ivy Tech dual credit courses.
Because Ivy Tech does not offer graduate courses, McNamara is searching for ways in which teachers could receive their graduate credit hours.
If an educator teaches dual credit courses through Indiana University, they would be eligible to earn the additional required hours through IU.
Her current recommendation for the institution is to create a contract between Ivy Tech and another university willing to work with Ivy Tech to provide teachers with the credits they need. The issue is the financial burden left on the other university that would have to accommodate the needs of Ivy Tech.
“It is a valid concern, we just don’t know how to fix it,” McNamara said.
The bill unanimously passed the House and now moves to the Senate for more discussion. McNamara hopes the Senate will be able to help solve the issue of funding for Ivy Tech.
Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.